Actor’s Youth Theatre in Gilbert is putting on a production of Les Miserables School Edition Oct. 15-17 and 22-24 at Zao Theatre, 550 S. Ironwood Drive in Apache Junction.
The production is to be performed entirely by youth performers ranging in age from 10 to 18.
Performances are 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday. Tickets cost $15 for advanced purchase, $17 the day of the show and $10 for student rush 30 minutes before show time — one ticket per student ID, according to aytaz.org/tickets.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, masks are required of all patrons and social-distancing must be observed, the website states.
The show is described at the website as “In 19th Century France, Jean Valjean is released from years of unjust imprisonment but finds nothing in store for him but mistrust and mistreatment. He breaks his parole in hopes of starting a new life, initiating a lifelong struggle for redemption as he is relentlessly pursued by police inspector Javert, who refuses to believe Valjean can change his ways. Finally, during the Paris student uprising of 1832, Javert must confront his ideals after Valjean spares his life and saves that of the student revolutionary who has captured the heart of Valjean’s adopted daughter.”
Actor’s Youth Theatre is one of the only live entertainment organizations in the area offering live programming, Stephen Hohendorf, artistic director, said.
“Of course safety is our No. 1 priority. We are following CDC guidelines to create a safe environment for our patrons and for our actors. Masks are required and social distancing will be enforced,” he said.
“The actors are even wearing gloves and special masks with a plastic apparatus to make it easier to sing with. Our costume designer has created masks for each actor that corresponds with their character’s costume – something I have not seen any other theatre do. Our ticketing system automatically blocks all seats around you and your party from being sold,” Mr. Hohendorf said.
Auditions for the production started at the beginning of the year, Director/Music Director Tracie Jones said.
“There have been quite a few hurdles staging Les Misérables during COVID. We started the audition process in late January and began rehearsals creating a show we thought would be performing in late April/early May. When COVID hit, we moved rehearsals to Zoom and finished what we could in hopes to move forward once we were back together. But that wasn’t exactly the case,” she said.
Ms. Jones also works with Bruce Goolsby, the director/choreographer; Emmi Payne, lighting/sound; Tanja Bauerle, set designer; Laura Wanstreet and Kym Smith, costume designers; Emmi Payne, stage manager; and Zachary Lundquest, deck manager.
“Once we came back there was so much uncertainty that we just went forward to create what was possible with this incredible cast in the safest way possible. Which also continued to change as we continued to learn more. We ended up changing venues to help with social distancing, basically re-staging the whole show into more of a concert version to help with safety precautions for everyone involved. We also lost/gained multiple cast members multiple times. It’s been an adventure needless to say,” Ms. Jones said.
“But the thing that continues to push us through what has become a nine-month process has been this amazing cast of youth who through it all just keep swimming as we continued to roll with the hurdles that were thrown our way. So very proud of each and everyone one of them,” she said.
Ms. Jones says Les Miserables School Edition has an iconic musical score and a powerful message of humanity.
“As we go on the journey with Val Jean and other characters as they struggle to find the balance between moral and social responsibilities and the never-ending battle for justice and equality, we ultimately learn that through forgiveness, love and compassion lives can be changed,” she said. “We are so very excited for these talented performers to bring this beautiful show to life and share what they have learned on their own journeys this year. While it may have been unexpected, magic can always be found if we are willing to look and listen for it.”