You may have seen the Oscar-winning film or perhaps a touring company's production of the Tony-winning musical, but wait until you see the passion, sacrifice and redemption in the MTSU Arts full-length performance of "Les Misérables" in Tucker Theatre!
MTSU is presenting one of the first university-licensed complete Broadway versions of "Les Misérables" Sept. 19-22. It's the largest musical theater production staged to date on the Murfreesboro campus, and tickets are still available at http://www.mtsuarts.com.
Performances are scheduled Sept. 19-21 at 7:30 each evening, and one matinee is planned at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 22.
"It dwarfs anything we've ever done before," musical director Raphael Bundage, a professor of vocal performance in MTSU's School of Music, said of the two-act operetta. "We've had large casts before, but the ensembles and principals in this production bring the total to 52."
The cast includes MTSU students and alumni as well as members of the surrounding community.
A crew of 25-plus and an 18-piece orchestra complete the team recreating the Paris Student Uprising of 1832 on a minimalist set with characters who've become household names from Victor Hugo's 1862 novel: Jean Valjean, Inspector Javert, Fantine, Cosette.
Some cast members are playing dual roles, while others are sharing their roles with colleagues over the four-night run. They were cast last spring, and the principals rehearsed over the summer.
"When a show is as epic as this one, and you don't have a Broadway budget, you have to rely on magic a lot," said director Kristi Shamburger, a Department of Speech and Theatre professor who also directed MTSU's productions of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," "Guys and Dolls" and "Into the Woods."
Sarah Upchurch of Smyrna, who's sharing the ingénue Cosette role with fellow senior Kayla Holt, said she's enjoying the opportunity to sing the songs she's been singing since the long family car trips of childhood.
"'Les Misérables' is my favorite musical," said Upchurch, who is majoring in vocal performance and vocal music education and wants to continue teaching music in a high school or elementary setting.
"It has a wonderful redemptive story that I love to hear."
Junior vocal performance major Bill Hennings, who is MTSU's Javert, said he loves the show for the same reason. He's performed the role of the judgmental, dogged police inspector before and his character resonates strongly with audiences.
“You can’t look at life and at others with a narrow mind,” Hennings said. “You’ve got to get to know people.”
General admission tickets for “Les Misérables” are $10 each. MTSU students, faculty and staff with valid IDs will be admitted free.
"We're just thrilled to be able to offer this production to the community," Bundage said. "There are so many partnerships that brought it together through MTSU Arts, but we're most proud of the preprofessional experience we're offering these students. They are professionals in every sense of the word."