Musings on “Les Mis”

A decade or so ago, we were a house divided. I favored all things “Phantom.” My husband James was more of a “Les Mis” kind of a guy. 

We’ve enjoyed “The Phantom of the Opera” in NYC and at ASU Gammage, and took all the kids to see “Les Miserables” when it came to ASU Gammage many years ago.

With so many more contemporary musicals to choose from these days, I’m not sure where these two classics might fall on our updated list of favorites.

Phoenix Theatre's 2009 "Les Miserables" - Photo by Laura Durant

I got to thinking about “Les Mis” the other day after hearing from Teresa Wright, managing director for Spotlight Youth Theatre in Glendale, who was excited about sharing news of their upcoming season.

I haven’t yet seen one of their productions, so I turned to my resident theater aficianado–my 17-year-old daughter Lizabeth.

She recalls seeing schoolmates from Arizona School for the Arts perform in Spotlight’s “Les Mis,” and says she was especially impressed by the strong vocals of the male lead.

Phoenix Theatre's 2009 "Les Miserables" - Photo by Stephen B. Thornton

We also had a great time seeing “Les Mis” performed in all its grandeur by Phoenix Theatre not too long ago, and are looking forward to its return to ASU Gammage as a special engagement during their 2010/2011 season.

Lizabeth rushed to my laptop the other day and insisted I stop working to see something. She had me listen rather than watch at first. I was impressed by what I heard: a song from a current production of “Les Mis” in London.

But who was singing the role of Marius so beautifully? Eventually Lizabeth let on. It was Nick Jonas, the onetime Broadway baby who now spends much of his time performing with the Jonas Brothers or Nick Jonas & the Administration.

"Les Miserables" is returning to ASU Gammage

Lizabeth suspects “Les Mis” might have had Jonas in the cast (in a younger role) when we saw the touring production at ASU Gammage way back when had mama Jonas not been expecting Jonas Brother #4 at the time, which would have made touring an even bigger production than usual.

Our memories of “Les Mis” have been kindled in all sorts of things through the years, including Susan Boyle’s moving rendition of “I Had a Dream” on “Britain’s Got Talent.”

But while reminiscing about longtime favorites and smash Broadway hits like “Les Mis” never grows old, it’s equally important that we make time for theater that’s got less largesse but no less heart–including youth theater productions in surrounding communities.

So my 2010/2011 season plans include getting over to Spotlight Youth Theatre in Glendale to see one or more of their upcoming shows, which include the following:

“13: The Musical” opening Sept 10

“Guys and Dolls” opening Oct 29

“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” opening Dec 10

“Beauty and the Beast” opening Jan 21

“Fools” opening March 4

“The King and I” opening April 22

“Spotlight on Broadway” opening May 20

It’s a fun mix of shows coupling classics with newer material. I’m told that Spotlight Youth Theatre has a rather unique fundraiser on the horizon, so stay tuned to their website to learn more about that–as well as auditions and other special events.

Who’s to say that the next Nick Jonas, or the next young Broadway breakout performer, won’t come from our very own Valley of the Sun?

–Lynn

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2 responses to “Musings on “Les Mis”

  1. Glenda Matson

    The production of Les Mis at Spotlight was the first production I had ever seen at this remarkable youth theatre. They have attracted wonderful young talent. Their recent production of Thoroughly Modern Millie could compete on par with any adult production you could find. This theatre has huge heart, a great creative director, and a great set of supportive parents. Every production is a must see!

  2. Spotlight Youth Theater is real theater only better. The energy, dedication and passion for the art is second to none. check out the above season and plan on seeing a show or all of them you will not be disapointed.

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