Not miserable at all: Theater students excited about next year’s musical

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Danielle Fannon, Staff Writer

As the school year comes to a close, Bearden’s musical theater department begins a new journey. Mrs. Leann Dickson announced Les Misérables as next year’s production.

With the loss of 19 cast members from the class of 2016, the department had to look at the remaining students in order to find a fitting play. Upon first glance, the upcoming cast seemed to hold the potential for Music Man, according to Mrs. Dickson.

However, the night of auditions caused a shift in the plan.

“We had so many boys show up that had really great voices that it made us start looking at other options,” Mrs. Dickson said. “The night of auditions, I had three other judges in addition to myself, and they all said, ‘You realize you have Les Misérables here.’”

While Les Mis has been a favorite among many students, Mrs. Dickson had not considered it as a Bearden production due to the difficult content. The news came as a shock to many theater students.

“I did not expect it at all, but I was very excited,” junior T.J. Seaman said. “It’s a very popular musical that everyone knows, so I did not think Mrs. Dickson would do it.”

Despite the positive reactions from the students, the department will need to make adjustments to work out the difficulties of the play. In order to match the complexity and the wide vocal range for the role of Jean Valjean, theater professional Coke Morgan will come in to play the part.

Mr. Morgan graduated from West High School and later attended Birmingham-Southern College. He sang tenor in the St. James Episcopal Church Choir and later went on to travel with various opera companies to Europe, the Middle East, and around the United States.

The department also hopes to use this opportunity to bring the cast to a new level.

“I think it will bring a lot of professionalism to the experience as a whole, as well as a chance for the cast to gain knowledge if this is the career they intend to pursue in the future,” sophomore Christina Ledbetter said.

In order to prepare for the difficulties ahead, students are already taking actions to improve their skill prior to audition time.

“Many of them have re-watched the movie, and they’re coming in and asking me which role they should audition for,” Mrs. Dickson said. “They’re already asking for names of voice teachers, and if they’re in voice class, their teachers are already emailing me asking what music they should prepare.

“There’s a lot of excitement.”

Although Les Mis holds darker content than the light mood of a typical musical, the department hopes to use the opportunity to reach a different side of the audience.

“I think diving into the story of the French Revolution and the hardships that the people had to endure will grow us as human beings to become more compassionate toward those who don’t have the rights that we have,” Mrs. Dickson said.