PUBLISHED: 5:32 PM on Wednesday, February 13, 2008
JDHS Theatre prepares for Les Miserables
Victor Hugo certainly might not have envisioned his masterpiece Les Miserables as a musical done by so many talented actors in countries all over the world.

This famous Broadway play will now appear in Juneau in a Juneau Douglas High School production including the school's largest cast ever for the theatre department. More than 100 students are involved including the 75 cast members plus orchestra and crew members.

Naomi Judd Photo
  JDHS Theatre and Music Department students prepare for opening night of Les Miserables in a lively technical rehearsal last week. The show opens Feb. 15.
Director and Theatre coach Michaela Moore has been rehearsing with the student actors for more than 25 hours a week in preparation to open the show on Friday, Feb. 15.

The show will run three hours with an intermission, but Moore says, "I don't think the audience will feel like they've been there a long time. I know that Act II feels like it goes by fairly quickly and Act I is what sets everything up, and it has a lot going on, a lot of fun colorful scenes and the chorus is in and out and everything is changing.

"The set gets bigger and bigger and bigger as the play goes on, and so there is always something new and exciting for them to see. We will have pyro-technics with explosions and things. Its going to be really, one of the biggest technical shows that we've done here in a long time."

When asked to summarize the play in one sentence, Moore said she could summarize it in one word: "It's about Forgiveness. It's about what true forgiveness is and it's about what true love is, between people. And if I had to do it in a sentence, this is the main sentence from Victor Hugos novel and its in our last song: 'To love another person is to see the face of God.'

"The whole play is about how the reason why we have such a mess and the reason why we have such miserable people in the world is because we don't love each other, we don't take care of each other. That is its message and so this musical is about how love will carry us through as human beings."

Les Miserables will astound its Juneau audience with a revolving set, technical lighting, special effects, and of course the performance of this year's


"I think their talent and maturity and depth will really surprise, even their own parents. I think even their own parents don't realize what they can do," said Moore, who attributes the high participation in this years production in part to the revolutionary aspect of Les Miserables and in part to the success of last year's musical, Into the Woods.

Rehearsing so many hours a week is like a second job beyond school for the students who must truly love what they are doing to maintain such a busy schedule.

"My favorite part of rehearsing is where we are at now, because we are beyond having to learn everything, we all really know it and everyone is together for the tech rehearsals, and you really get to know everyone," said cast member Michaela Goaed who plays Fantine. This is such a huge cast, so I mean there's still people that I'm getting to know. That is the fun part for me that I've always liked over the years."

Her character sets the stage in the very beginning for the rest of the play, to signify how the French are oppressed.

"The message I think of the play is, as long as there's love, and I think that can apply to anywhere in any society or time or place needs more love, more peace.

Cast member Clairen Stone, who plays Eponine the Thénardiers' daughter, commented on how real a show Les Miserables will be.

"All the characters in Les Mis are really down to earth and really deep and to be able to play that part well and for the audience to understand you have to get into your character and focus a lot and it cant just be all fun and games the whole time. You have to make sure you are portraying your characters past, and emotions and its really fun but a huge challenge," said Stone.

Many people may not have dreamed such a huge production would see the stage in Juneau's high school. To the excitement of local theatre fans, there will be five performances.

"I think it will take the audiences breath away, our students are so talented, they amaze me, said Michaela Moore. "They can pull this off. I know a lot of people in the community are wondering why a high school is doing Les Miserables, it's because this was the year to do it. We have some of the most amazing students who are going to graduate this year, there's a big group of seniors that are really strong and talented, plus the schools are splitting next year, so this was the year to do something like this.

"It was probably the only year we'd be able to do Les Miserables is a long, long tim."

Tickets are available at Hearthside books and the JDHS activities office.