Among the 39 actors in St. Gregory's production of "Les Misérables" are: Top row - Diana Hurtado, left, Sophia Rightmer, George Tillery, Maya Encila and Stewart Bass. Seated - Daniel Rosenberg, left, and Sam Mainman.


Editor's note: Sam Mainman, a senior, plays the role of Cosette in the St. Gregory production of "Les Misérables."

St. Gregory College Preparatory School students will take to the stage Friday and Saturday evening with the timeless story and music of "Les Misérables."

More than 100 period costumes, 39 actors and an orchestra will come together for the school edition of the heartfelt musical.

"It's a powerful show," said St. Gregory senior Diana Hurtado, who sings the role of Eponine.

"It's a journey to finding redemption and how love transcends even in tragedy. The music ties all of the emotional aspects together to create a timeless story. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for this school to do this show."

Producing the musical are St. Gregory drama director Lisa Bodden and music director Alex Shawn. Bodden explained that they initially were intimidated by "Les Misérables," but "it beckoned us and we could not resist. We knew it was an incredibly difficult show, but were confident that we had the talent to make it a reality."

Among the challenges is the lack of spoken dialogue, Bodden said.

"With an opera, such as this show, characters must be developed through the words they sing, the repetition of phrasing and the melodic motifs," Bodden said. "As a cast, they have learned to recognize each other's themes and explore these connections."

The school edition is different from the recent Oscar-winning film, said junior Hattie Groskind, who plays Madame Thénardier.

"Multiple people play different parts so the audience will see the acting ability to change character," Groskind said. "Our musical will be more of a classic take on 'Les Misérables' compared to the movie, in that we stay true to the characters."

Costume mistress and St. Gregory parent Kathryn Kellner, whose daughter, Helene, is in the production, has worked with parents and grandparents to create about 100 costumes. Some are taken from the personal collection of Kellner, who has been in theater for much of her life.

The production is set between 1815 and 1830, and Kellner has created costumes that reflect the period.

"Because St. Gregory is a college preparatory school, I am trying to do the costumes like a college would," Kellner said.

While countless hours have gone into preparations, the result will be rewarding, said St. Gregory senior Stewart Bass, who plays Jean Valjean.

"The stories it contains apply and appeal across generational gaps, and the messages are universal."

If you go

• What: "Les Misérables" School Edition, presented by St. Gregory Theatre Arts.

• When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

• Where: St. Gregory College Preparatory School's Donald R. Nickerson Performing Arts Center, 3231 N. Craycroft Road.

• Tickets: $10; email or call 327-6395, Ext. 252, for reservations.