Students from Great Plains Theatre Academy in Abilene are reliving the history of France in a unique way with a production of “Les Misérables School Edition,” an adaptation of the Tony Award-winning musical phenomenon which is performed by students only. All interested students ages 12-18 are welcome to audition.

Auditions will be ongoing this week. Students may show up at GPT 3:30 p.m. through Thursday this week if they are interested in joining the cast. Students do not need to prepare anything. All are welcome. Auditions for lead roles will take place during the first weeks of rehearsal.

“The future of the theater is all about developing and nurturing a passion for musicals and plays among the young. This is where new audiences will come from, and I believe “Les Misérables,” which tells a story of so many passionate and committed young people, is proving to be a thrilling theatrical learning experience for teenagers, as well as a wonderful communal experience for their teachers,” said theatrical producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh.

“Les Misérables is one of the most popular musicals in the world and features one of the most memorable scores of all time. Through their production, these students are playing their own part in an epic piece of musical theatre history while offering their own take on themes like revolution, free speech, conviction and redemption,” said Drew Cohen, president of Music Theatre International.

Great Plains Theatre Academy will present “Les Misérables School Edition” on Feb. 28, March 1, 2, 3. For more information, contact Margaret Clair at Great Plains Theatre 263-4574 or margaret@greatplainstheatre.com.

“Les Misérables School Edition” is a version of the classic musical by Alain Boubil and Claude-Michel Schöneberg, based on the novel by Victor Hugo. The music is by Claude-Michel Schöneberg, with lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer. The show features original French text by Alain Boubil and Jean-Marc Natel, with additional material by James Fenton. It is adapted by Trevor Nunn and John Caird, with original orchestrations by John Cameron, new orchestrations by Christopher Janke, Stephen Metcalfe and Stephen Brooker. “Les Misérables” was originally produced by Mackintosh. The school edition is specially adapted and licensed by Music Theatre International and Cameron Mackintosh (Overseas) Ltd.

Making history

Winner of more than 100 international awards and seen by 8.5 million people in New York alone during its run from March 1987 through May 2003, “Les Misérables” is the world’s longest running musical and the third longest running musical in Broadway history.

Worldwide, the musical has been seen by more than 70 million people, with a total box office gross of over $1.8 billion.

The show again made history by becoming the first musical to become available for school productions while still playing on Broadway, in the West End and in productions around the world. MTI released the authorized school version of the award-winning musical in 2003, which, according to Dramatics Magazine, was the No. 1 produced musical in high schools that year.

Mackintosh supervised the creation of a school edition of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s epic musical in order to nurture a passion for the theater among youth. The show was made available to schools, children’s theaters, children’s camps and other organizations with programs for young performers (all performers must be under 19 years of age) nationwide in 2002, to honor the 200th anniversary of Victor Hugo’s birth.

“Les Misérables School Edition” has a running time of just over 2 1/2 hours (including intermission).

Epic story

This epic story of “Les Misérables” recounts the struggle against adversity in 19th-century France. Imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread, petty thief Jean Valjean is released from his 19-year term and not only becomes an honest man but the mayor of a prosperous town and a loving adoptive father – violating his parole in the process.

The relentless Inspector Javert, who makes a decent life for Valjean impossible, consequently pursues him.

Only years later, after Valjean proves his mettle during a bloody student uprising and saves the life of a young man hopelessly in love with Valjean’s adopted daughter does the ex-convict finally feel fully redeemed.

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