To produce The Little Mermaid, the costumer needed to create colorful tails and fins. In Mary Poppins, actors needed to be suspended with a fly system. In Spamalot, a grand castle set needed to be built. Every musical has its challenges, but this year’s Fall musical is like no other.
Les Misérables has proven to be an intimidating task, combining high school voices and the emotional story about war and loss in one of the longest running musicals in the world.
Because the show is about the French Revolution and the people affected, technicians will need props, makeup, and sets to look real, as opposed to a colorful Little Mermaid seafloor.
Behind the scenes, there is also a stamina and pacing challenge for technicians. Because the musical goes from song to song with little to no break in between, it will be a matter of racing against the curtain to get actors prepped and on stage quickly.
“Les Mis at moments feels like it never stops moving. That can be really difficult for technicians who need to do things in usual pauses of shows,” Britney Juarez, costume lead, said.
The characters being portrayed are historical fiction, based on the types of people who experienced the revolution and the conditions leading to it. It has been a new experience for some actors, needing to tap into different mindsets, motives, and emotions to adequately play their role.
“Les Mis is a show that there is so many characters, and each one is crucially real. If one is not, then everything feels wrong,” Truman McCaw, actor, said.
Not only will actors be transformed into their character in short pauses, actors also need to be in the mindset for the show. The difficulty lies in not only portraying human beings, but the attitude associated with scenes and characters, also known as tone.
“These are real people who are hungry, tired, and in dire need of representation,” Juarez said.
Another challenge when putting on a show like Les Mis, is the fact that it is entirely lyrical, having no lines of spoken dialogue.
The difficulty of this type of musical is in the stamina actors need to have in order to perform, and the ranges their voices are required to fall into.
“It is a musical that was 100% not written for high school voices. So, ranges are super challenging, especially when we talk about guys because their voices are newly changed,” Miles said.
The curtain has officially gone up on opening night, and the people who have worked so hard to produce Les Mis are thrilled.
“I feel amazing about where we are.” Anna Hunter, stage manager, said. “I’m super proud of what we’ve done, and how it has all come together.”