Masterful musical

2014-03-19 00:00

PUPILS at Hilton College and The Wykeham Collegiate in Pietermaritzburg have taken on the challenge of presenting the legendary musical Les Misérables at the Hilton College Theatre at 2 pm on Sunday, and 7 pm on March 24, March 26 and March 27.

The musical — which is being staged by special arrangement with Music Theatre International — is the schools’ edition of the long-running West End hit.

Cal Bray, the producer and director of the show, said it is the second time that The Wykeham Collegiate has worked on a show with Hilton College. In 2012, the two schools staged The Pirates of Penzance.

“We have been rehearsing since the beginning of term,” Bray said. “We got the scores at the end of last year and the pupils playing the main characters were given the scores so they could get used to them.

“The schools’ edition is not as long as the original, but the songs are the same.”

Written by Alain Boubill and Claude-Michel Schonberg, Les Misérables is based on the novel of the same name by Victor Hugo, and features music by Schonberg and lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer.

Les Misérables tells the story of Jean Valjean (Yivani Ndizana), an ex-convict who, inspired by a kindly bishop (Daniel von Hoesslin), decides to turn his life around.

He eventually becomes mayor and owner of a factory in a town in France, but is always wary of being captured again by police inspector Javert (Cameron Beetar), who is ruthless in hunting down law breakers, believing they cannot change for the better.

When one of Valjean’s factory workers, Fantine (Stephanie Irons), is cast into a life of prostitution and then dies, Valjean feels responsible and agrees to take care of her illegitimate daughter, Cosette (Khopotso Khalema) — although he must first escape Javert. Later, when Cosette is grown up, they are swept up in the political turmoil in France, which culminates in the Paris uprising of 1832.

Other key roles are performed by Jordan Hunter (Monsieur Thenardier), Megan Manley (Madame Thenardier), Nathan Julius (Enroljas, leader of the students), Damon Laurent (Marius), Deanna Mangope (Eponine), Tarina Dippenaar as the young Cosette, and Jamie Beetar as the street urchin, Gavroche.

The play — which examines the history of France, the nature of law and grace, architecture and urban design of Paris, politics, moral philosophy, justice, religion, and love — features 57 Hilton College pupils in acting roles and in the band, lead by Jaco Dippenaar and Brett Udell. There are also 15 girls from The Wykeham Collegiate.

Lighting design is by the award-winning Tina le Roux from Durban, while Big Beat will be providing the sound.

“The art department has helped with backdrops and IT has helped us to project the images they created onto the back of the stage,” said assistant director Joslyn Cox.

Bray and Cox have also sourced all the costumes. “We have hired some, borrowed some ... we need a lot of costumes as even those who are just in the chorus need to have at least three costumes,” Bray said, adding that costumes have come from the school’s own wardrobe, The Wykeham Collegiate, the Hexagon Theatre at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and Treverton.

“They need to be period-appropriate, which is quite hard, and the colours need to be muted for some scenes.”

Tickets for Les Misérables are R75 (no concessions) and can be booked at the Hilton College Theatre ticket office only. Phone 033 383 0126 or e-mail tickets@hiltoncol

Please note: the show is about three hours, including an interval.

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