Beacon Players to Perform “Les Miz”

Jonah Espinosa (center), who portrays Enjolras, leads the cast to revolution during a rehearsal.

Jonah Espinosa (center), who portrays Enjolras, leads the cast to revolution during a rehearsal. (Photos by Una Hoppe)

Classic musical highlights fight for freedom 

Many an actor or crew member has been in a production, somewhere, of Les Misérables since its opening night in London in 1985.

On April 21 to 23, after months of preparation, the actors and crew in the Beacon Players will add their names to that long list with their production at Beacon High School. Les Miz is still performed in the West End and has had multiple revivals since its Broadway run from 1987 to 2003.

Adapted from Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel, the musical is set in France in the early 19th century. The sprawling storyline includes detours into poverty, injustice, perseverance, mercy, revolution, retribution, greed, kindness and forgiveness, all conveyed through stirring, character-driven songs such as “I Dreamed a Dream,” “Bring Him Home,” “One Day More,” “On My Own” and “Stars,” among others in which the first few measures will elicit a response of, “Oh, that one.”

Rehearsals began with a conversation about the historical setting of the musical but quickly moved on, says Anthony Scarrone, the director of Beacon Players. “Once we got over the fact that the show actually has nothing to do with the French Revolution, we focused on the emotions and experiences that each character might have experienced were they living during that time,” he says.

“As they sing in the show, ‘The world is changing day to day and what was wrong seems right and what was right seems wrong,’ so be it with our world,” he adds. “Our students are realizing that they are not that much different from the students in the show. The dynamics might have changed but the zeal and the passion still remain within them.”

Evelyn Moreno (center as Madame Thenardier) rehearses with Samiha Gold, Anabelle Arginsky, McKenna Griffin, Molly Lyons and Jamie Bernstein while singing "Master of the House."

Evelyn Moreno (center as Madame Thenardier) rehearses with Samiha Gold, Anabelle Arginsky, McKenna Griffin, Molly Lyons and Jamie Bernstein while singing “Master of the House.”

Scarrone says keeping the material fresh and innovative has been his biggest challenge. As always, he takes inspiration from the new-to-it students. “Our students are allowing themselves to grow as actors and singers,” he says. “Our set crew has taken on the huge responsibility. I’m creating a massive set, including a turntable, gorgeous lighting and absolutely beautiful costumes. It’s truly a production they can be proud of, and I am extremely proud of them.”

He adds: “We are fortunate to have the ability to work closely with Production Resource Group [a global production company with offices in New York City and New Windsor], who mentor our students in the technical aspects.”

The vocal responsibilities fall to Susan Wright, who has collaborated with Scarrone on many productions. Wright assembled a choir while Samantha Ryan will conduct an orchestra with student and adult musicians — a first for the Beacon Players.

Anabelle Arginsky, a sophomore, is playing multiple roles — beggar, waltzer, barricade girl, mourner and “lovely lady.” She says she related easily to the story. “For many students, in a more self-focused generation, it may be hard to put ourselves into the shoes of Fantine, devoting our entire life to someone else, or Enjolras, giving up our life for a higher cause,” she says. “But the message of connection and empathy in Les Miz is more important than ever.”

Shepard Rodgers, a senior who will appear in his 12th and final Beacon Players show, will portray the police inspector Javert, who pursues protagonist Jean Valjean.

“Much like the Parisian students fought for freedom from an oppressive class system, many students today have dedicated themselves to fight for change,” he observes. “This passion allows us to better understand why Enjolras cries, ‘Let us die facing our foes!’ or how Valjean is able to find redemption.”

Beacon High School is located at 101 Matteawan Road. Les Misérables will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on Friday (April 21) and Saturday (April 22) and 2 p.m. on Sunday (April 23). Tickets are $12 or $5 for students and seniors at beaconplayers.com and at the door.

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