If you go
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Nov. 8, 9; 2 p.m. Sunday and Nov. 10
Where: Clay Center
Info:www.theclaycenter.org or 304-561-3570
The Charleston Light Opera Guild's first-ever production of the Tony Award winning musical "Les Miserables" brought eager actors from far and wide.
More than 180 people auditioned for the eventual 72 roles, including Kentucky actor Evan Sullivan, who relocated to Huntington so that he'd have an easier drive to Charleston for rehearsals. A pretrial officer in Kentucky - he says it's equivalent to a bail bondsman in West Virginia - Sullivan heads to Eastern Kentucky each day for his job, and then makes the trip to Charleston for rehearsal.
"It's definitely a commitment, but it's well worth it," said Sullivan, who first heard of the guild's plan to produce the musical this past summer when he was in a Huntington theater production.
The show's cast includes dozens of stage veterans, many of whom have extensive vocal experience. It is the first time the rights to "Les Miserables" have been available to amateur community theater groups.
Sullivan, who has been active in theater since high school, has seen a London production of the show and recalls he liked it but wasn't "crazy" about it at first blush. It's not your typical glitzy, dancing, cheerful musical.
"You don't leave happy or excited," he said. But he added the power of the music - the show is virtually all sung - stays with you.
Sullivan describes himself as a history buff, but admits even he was a little rusty on the time period of the show.
"It's a very blurry part of history," he said.
Based on Victor Hugo's novel by the same name, "Les Miserables" is set in early 19th Century France, right after the French Revolution.
It is not an easy show to summarize in a few paragraphs, to be sure.
At its heart, it is a story of sin and redemption, much told through lead character Jean Valjean, a French peasant first introduced after he has been released from a 19-year prison sentence for stealing bread. Valjean breaks his parole and starts a new life, only to be tracked down by a police inspector named Javert.