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Theatre brings a challenge to the stage


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The Grosse Pointe Theatre presents "Les Miserables" at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial. Playing the part of Cosette is Nancy Ingles, left, of Grosse Pointe, Joshua Coates of Detroit has been cast at Marius and Eponine is played by Meagen Mazur of Detroit. The musical is staged at 2 p.m. May 4, 11, 18, 24 and 25; at 8 p.m. May 8, 15 through 17, 22 through 24 and at 7 p.m. May 4 and 18. For ticket information, call (313) 881-4004 or visit gpt.org. photo by Dale Pegg.

April 17, 2014
Bringing the numerous messages in the three-hour musical "Les Misérables" is a challenge for the Grosse Pointe Theatre.

The cast of nearly 60, ranging in age from 5 to 70, performs the familiar opera by moving from one conflict to another relaying the message of family and making choices. Since the audience likely is to be acquainted with the story having read the book or seen the Broadway musical or the 2012 movie, the cast and crew must keep the story moving spotlighting stories of love, faith, prostitution, strong morals and redemption.

"Everybody knows something about it," said director Beverly Dickinson, who has been with GPT for 10 years. "Think of how internationally acclaimed it is. Everyone's story is there. It's fitting for a cast or a belief system. We all lose a parent, a child. There is so much that resonates."

Despite that she affirmed her decision to take on the work.

"I jumped on it when it was released for regional theater. I wanted to bring 'Les Misérables' to reach out north and to Detroit," she said. "I enjoy the thought of doing it... in a grand way. It's about faith and loss — the death of those students for a cause will talk to people, the people who were left behind.

"'Les Misérables' is a beast of a show," she added. "Staging at the War Memorial requires additional attention. We had to make an intentional decision to scale it down or give it its technical due. People appreciate the show for what it is — the music and characters. We give it all we've got. We think out of the box and give audiences what the Grosse Pointe Theatre is known for."

The production is detailed from the performers to costumes, music, set designers and builders and props. Productions provide audiences with a memorable performance, produced by community members participating in their passion — a stage production.

More than 200 auditioned for the cast who began rehearsing in January.

Dickinson said, "We started with the vocals and it was full steam ahead. The voices we have are fabulous. When the chorus sings 'One Day More' I just want to stand and shout. These are regular people. They have day jobs — nurses, teachers, a judge.

Dickinson teams with her husband, John, who is the music and vocal director.

"It's fun to team up with him," she said.

When the music fades and the house lights come up the audience, cast and crew are rewarded.

"At the end of it all, you are uplifted," Dickinson said. "The cast takes away a deeper feeling of connection to each other. The ability to connect with each other. The whole theme has some of that in it."

The musical is based on the 1862 French historical novel by Victor Hugo. It has been seen by more than 60 million in 20 languages in the past 25 years.

It is the tale of ex-convict Jean Valjean's quest to escape his past and protect his adopted daughter from the dangers of the French Revolution. It is also the story of police inspector Javet, who believes in hunting down criminals with no mercy.

The show opens with two performances, at 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday, May 4 and 18. Other performances are at 8 p.m. May 8, 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24 and at 2 p.m. May 11, 18, 24 and 25 and at 7 p.m. May 18. All are staged at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial, Fries Auditorium. Tickets cost $24 and can be ordered by calling (313) 881-4004, by visiting gpt.org. or at the theatre's office during business hours at 315 Fisher, City of Grosse Pointe.

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