Written by Christopher Gavin Thursday, 25 July 2013 00:00
For many, Hollywood can be inspiring. As if they were set to a strict standard, movies tell tales of mystery, romance, adventure and conflict. The film adaptation of the hit musical, Les Misérables, was no exception to this criteria when it reached theaters last December. However, the impact it had on the alumni of Mineola High School is a different story.
The revived public interest in the musical, which is set during the French Revolution, provided a small group of alumni with an opportunity to reunite for their own take on the classic show, according to John Watts, an alum and a co-musical director for the production who will also play the lead role.
Watts, a member of the Class of 2010, said the July 26 performance at the high school will consist of cast members who will be reprising their roles from when the school first staged the musical in 2008. The reunion is the first of its kind at the high school, Watts said.
Getting the gang back together though was a task in itself.
“There were so many things we needed to do; so many steps. We delegated power,” Watts said. “We got everyone, all of the college kids basically, together and we said ‘How the hell are we going to do this?’”
Unsure and unassuming, Watts and Jenelle Fiori sat down around a table in Panera a few months ago with five of their old classmates and colleges where they tossed around ideas and laid down the foundation for the production.
Through social media, graduates and current high school students alike learned of the musical and so, there are now about 60 people involved, Watts said.
The show is essentially a benefit concert since there is no set and the singers and pit orchestra will play the entire musical in front of a few microphones, Watts said. All proceeds will go towards the school’s theater program, he said, and the performance will be one night only with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. for a 7 p.m. show time. Tickets are $15, $10 for students.
Fiori, a member of the Class of 2008 and the producer and general manager for the production, said Les Misérables was the perfect musical to perform for the occasion.
“I think with this show, what’s really great about it is that you can visualize a lot of the things that are going on without a set because a lot of it is full of emotion and so full of life in each note [and] each word that is said onstage,” Fiori said.
Joseph Owens, the acting supervisor for fine and performing arts and a member of the Class of 1998, said the show is representative of the kind of drama department the school district has.
“It was like a major win for me as a teacher, that kids [are]…coming back to volunteer their time to put this whole production together to give back to the program that they came from,” Owens, who will be conducting the pit orchestra, said, later mentioning the involvement of seven other teachers as well. “I think that’s pretty incredible.”
Watts said he hopes audience members will be inspired by the concert, considering the fact that all those involved are working towards a common goal, despite a ten year age gap amongst some cast members. Either way though, returning to the Mineola stage seems to a reward in itself for Watts, Fiori and their former classmates.
“To reconnect and to get together again,” Watts said, “it reminds you of your roots [and] it keeps you grounded.”