Fighting and fraternité

  • Emily Casko (left), as Fantine, rehearses a scene from “Les Miserables” at Concord High School on Tuesday. Elizabeth Frantz / Monitor staff

  • The ensemble rehearses a scene from “Les Miserables.” Elizabeth Frantz

  • Daniel Desmond, as Thenardier, rehearses a scene from “Les Miserables” at Concord High School on Tuesday. Elizabeth Frantz / Monitor staff

  • Dan Gaby (left), as Inspector Javert, and Josh Girouard, as Jean Valjean, rehearse a scene from "Les Miserables" at Concord High School in Concord on Tuesday, May 8, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz

Monitor staff
Wednesday, May 09, 2018

On stage, France’s proletariat is threatening to tear the country apart and launch a rebellion against its leaders.

But behind the curtain, the opposite was occurring. The Concord High School cast of Les Miserables was the epitome of fraternité.

Thursday night, a week before the opening night, Maddie Dustin, a sophomore and the cast’s stage manager, was running the rehearsal in director Clint Klose’s absence; he was sick. Her mother, Joy Dustin, an English teacher at Bow High School, assisted.

“They are doing an amazing job,” Maddie said of her classmates.

She explained that the cast came into the show with a wide range of experiences.

“They are supportive of each other,” Joy Dustin said.

Some have no experience. Some have done many years of theater. But the ones with theater experience have been going out of their way to help those who need it.

“I love working with these guys,” Maddie said.

Teamwork is something that extends to all parts of the production.

Set designer and technical director John Hatab, a teacher at Beaver Meadow school, has worked with Klose on student productions for some 20 years.

“It’s really a symbiotic relationship,” Hatab said.

The design for the set usually begins with a meeting with Klose explaining his ideas and the needs of the production. Then, Hatab takes those ideas and works out what is feasible for the space.

“He trusts me, and I trust him, too,” Hatab said.

Les Miserables was a challenge because there are lots of pieces with limited space, but Hatab said he’s designed a core set that can be reimagined as the streets of Paris or the inside of buildings depending on the other furniture and lighting.

“The whole thing is about interpretation,” he said. “Suspend the audience’s disbelief.”

Les Miserables is a musical based on Victor Hugo’s novel of the same name set during the French Revolution when the lowest class, the first estate, rose up against the aristocracy and rich of the first and second estates.

A central character of the musical is Jean Valjean (played by Josh Girouard), a man who is released from prison after 19 years for stealing bread.

Shortly after his release, Valjean runs into the Bishop (Jasper Ward).

Girouard said after that encounter, Valjean sees that he needs to make a change. He breaks his parole, changes his name and opens a business.

“The show is about his journey and the people he meets who have been touched by him,” Girouard said.

Among those characters are Fantine (Emily Casko), Cosette (Maya Fabozzi), Monsieur and Madame Thenardier (Daniel Desmond and Keisha Johnson), Eponine (Rachel Revellese), Marius (Jagger Reep) and Enjolras (Derek Taylor).

Both Maddie Dustin and Girouard say “The Confrontation” is their favorite scene. In it, Inspector Javert (Dan Gaby) finally catches back up with Valjean, whom he’d previously been the jailor of. They argue, singing over each other, and it’s revealed that Javert was born in jail.

“It really shows where the characters conflict,” Girouard said.

“(The song) gives me goosebumps every time,” Maddie Dustin added.

It’s actually a piece that was cut in the student edition they are performing, but the students were able to add it back in.

“I feel the story wouldn’t be told without that one line in it,” Maddie Dustin said.

Though Les Miserables is a challenging enough show on its own, a majority of the cast was simultaneously rehearsing Nora’s Lost for the New England Educational Theater Guild competition. For a second time, Concord High made it to the finals.

Joy Dustin explained she thought that for some, those wins could lead to complacency and the thinking “we just won states, we’re the best,” but the Concord High School students still want to be better.

“They are open to opportunities for growth,” Joy Dustin said.

“I’ve never been disappointed by a show Clint (Klose) has put on,” she added.

Les Miserables will be held Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. with an additional matinee Saturday at 2 p.m. in the McAuliffe Auditorium at the high school. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for seniors and students. The Friday show is sold out and advance reserved tickets are no longer available for the other shows. The box office will open an hour before each show for first-come, first-served seating.