“Les Mis” light?

There’s nothing light about the musical “Les Miserables,” which trumpets through the fictional lives of young and old, honest and dishonest, industrious and indolent amidst turmoil in 19th century France.

It’s a tale of love, sacrifice and forgiveness that speaks to the hearts of mothers, fathers and children — as well as patriots, young lovers and more.

Not taking your children to see a live production of “Les Miserables” is the theater equivalent of never taking them to a baseball game. It’s part of the lexicon of American culture, which first gave rise to the art form of musical theater.

If you’ve been wary on previous occasions because you suspect your child might not make it through the entire production, there’s a shorter option with extra kid appeal.

It’s the “Les Miserables School Edition,” which is available for licensing by Musical Theatre International in collaboration with Cameron Mackintosh Limited. (The name Cameron Macintosh will ring a bell if you saw the Disney and Cameron Macintosh presentation of “Mary Poppins” when the musical came to ASU Gammage last season.)

Licensing provisions state that the entire cast must be 19 years or younger, that no one in the cast may be a member of an actors’ union and that the work is to be performed entirely by full-time elementary, middle or high school students.

Lizabeth first saw “Les Miserables” at ASU Gammage a good decade or so ago and listened to the soundtrack non-stop for some time thereafter. She played the music on the piano and violin — and still reminisces about the day she sang “Can You Hear the People Sing?” for one of the student performances held each Friday at Desert View Learning Center in Phoenix.

The other little girls favored “I Dreamed a Dream,” but Lizabeth has always been drawn a bit more to anthems of the underdog.

If your student might like to audition for a Valley production of “Les Miserables School Edition,” take note of the following… (See important update at end of post regarding new audition/performance dates.)

It’s being performed in September by Creative Stages Youth Theatre in Peoria as the opener for their second season, marking their first foray into musical theater.

Auditions are being held Sat, Aug 7 (and Sun, Aug 8, if needed) by appointment only. Auditioners are expected to “prepare a two minute song and a one minute monologue.” They should also “bring a photo, resume and be prepared to identify any rehearsal conflicts.” (Translation: Take along your family, school and activities schedules so you know when you’re not available to rehearse or perform.)

To learn more, visit www.csyt.org. You or your child can contact Jim Gradillas at jim@csyt.org to schedule an audition time.

Auditions are being held at a church called The Way in Peoria, which is home to CSYT. Performances will take place at Phoenix Center for the Arts’ 215-seat Third Street Theater.

To learn more about “Les Miserables School Edition,” visit www.lesmizschooledition.com. And stay tuned for a future post with more scoop on the upcoming 2010-2011 season at Creative Stages Youth Theatre.

— Lynn

Note: To explore other theater works licensed through MIT, visit them at www.mitshows.com. To learn about the touring production of “Les Miserables” coming to ASU Gammage for a brief run in June 2011, visit www.asugammage.com (it may sell out quickly so it’s not too early to start paying attention). To receive additional audition notices, sign-up with Durant Communications at www.durantcom.com.

Coming up: Spotlight on this year’s AriZoni Award nominees in children’s and adult categories

Update from Creative Stages website: “As many of you know, Creative Stages Youth Theatre is in the process of looking for a theatre space to call their own and we hope to have very good news in the next few weeks regarding the location and more information. So that our focus can be on finalizing the location and preparing the space with lights, sound, seating, etc…, we will be moving Les Miserablés to next April. The show will now be performed from April 15 through May 1. We anticipate auditions will held in February and all audition info will be posted on our website.” –Lynn 8/6/10

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