Barter Theatre and Symphony of the Mountains to Stage LES MISERABLES, 8/16-17
Thousands upon thousands of people have seen "LES MISERABLES" this past year through the movie release last winter or the many regional theatre productions. It's officially the world's longest running musical, and "Les Mis" has been seen by over 65 million people in 42 countries. But how many have seen it with a full symphony orchestra? Not many.
On August 16 and 17 the Mountain Empire is invited to see the musical event of the summer in a brand new way: a collaboration of Barter Theatre and the Symphony of the Mountains to bring the music of "Les Mis" to soaring new heights.
Although the story, based on Victor Hugo's novel, is compelling, the music is the first thing that comes to mind at the mention of "Les Mis." Alain Boubill and Claude Michel Schonberg have arguably written the best music for a theatrical production of all time. It has even made its way into pop culture with references on "Seinfeld," "South Park" and more recently, "Homeland." After the movie was released, even "Saturday Night Live" got in on the action with a spoof of "One Day More" with host Anne Hathaway.
As fans already know, the show is meant to be seen live. It is so rare for any production to have a full orchestra, which is why this is so exciting that Barter Theatre is collaborating with Symphony of the Mountains for two performances Kingsport. Last Sunday, Barter closed an extremely successful run of "Les Mis" in Abingdon, but the cast is eager to perform two more times and backed by a full symphony.
Actor Rick McVey said, "Playing Javert in 'Les Mis' has been one of the most thrilling and fulfilling roles I've ever done. To be able to do it with this fantastic cast and crew is undeniably one of the highlights of my career, and to perform with a full symphony orchestra is a once in a lifetime opportunity."
For two nights only, residents of the Mountain Empire can hear the music of "Les Mis" the way it was intended and backed by the professional musicians of Symphony of the Mountains.
The orchestra pit at Barter Theatre is only large enough to hold six musicians, and that was a tight fit. The Toy F. Reid Center in Kingsport, Tennessee, can hold the 30 Barter Theatre actors and a full orchestra.
Barter Theatre and Symphony of the Mountains are two of the longest-running performing arts organizations in the region. Barter is celebrating 80 years and the Symphony is celebrating 65. It makes perfect sense to collaborate when opportunity allows. Few organizations in the country are pooling resources in this way. Barter first partnered with The Symphony in 2011 with "Cabaret" and the outpouring of support was exciting for both organizations.
Audiences loved "Cabaret," but will be even more blown away by "Les Mis.
The difference between performing "Cabaret" and "Les Mis" is the scope of the project. "Cabaret" is meant to be more intimate with a smaller cast, but "Les Mis" is truly epic, and the entire story is told through the lyrics and music, instead of having breaks for dialogue.
Symphony conductor Cornelia Laemmli Orth and the musicians really have their job cut out for them. Most musicals allow for musicians to rest during dialogue. Since "Les Mis" is more of an opera than traditional music theatre, every word is sung. The characters in the show take turns singing solo or with groups, but the conductor and the musicians are performing in every single number for the entire play..
"I am very excited about this collaboration. Yes, it is a long time for me to have my arms up without a break, but I am sure I won't even feel it. This music is so incredibly beautiful and passionate, that it makes us forget everything else," said Laemmli Orth.
The Barter/Symphony collaboration will take place at the Toy F. Reid Eastman Employee Center in Kingsport, TN, on August 16 and 17 at 7:30pm. For tickets and more information, visit SymphonyoftheMountains.org or call (423) 392-8423.