Curtain opens with Les Misérables
Alluvion Stage Company presented Liberty’s first play of the season to a sold-out crowd Friday, Sept. 13
Alluvion Stage Company’s rendition of Les Misérables christened the Liberty University theatrical season with colorful and compelling performances that began Friday, Sept. 13 in front of a sold-out audience. Theatergoers were transported to 19th century France and given a fictional taste of the real-life uprising in Paris in1832.
“Opening weekend was so surreal,” the actress who stars as Eponine, Sarah Seaman, said. “The energy in the audience was palpable. It had a heartbeat.”
According to several cast and crew members, their first shows were a huge success.
“I’m very proud of all the hard work of the cast and crew,” Connor Worthington, men’s wardrobe manager for the show, said. “We keep getting a lot of positive feedback from the audience.”
According to walnutstreettheater.org, the musical premiered in Paris in 1980. Five years later, the English-language version opened in London. While critics were not impressed, the show was warmly received by the public. In its 28 consecutive years being run, the play has been performed in over 40 countries and translated into 22 languages. Now, this award-winning musical has arrived in central Virginia for the first time.
“I absolutely loved the show,” senior Liberty student Sam Farnsworth said. “The music literally sent chills down my spine.”
Despite being written as a secular show, Les Misérables tells a very convicting Christian message — everyone is in need of redemption. As it comes to an end, one phrase sums up the three-hour show — ‘To love another person is to see the face of God.’
“No matter who you are, you are born with a God-shaped hole, and nothing can fill that but the (God),” Kelli Overmyer, who plays the virtuous Fantine, said. “People need hope.
People need love. Les Mis presents, I think better than any other musical, the concept of God’s grace from Romans 8. Pure, sacrificial love conquers all in this show.”
Even the most solemn shows need comedic relief. Christopher Nelson and Stephanie Lambert were perfectly cast as the raunchy innkeepers, Monsieur and Madame Thénardier. They lifted the crowd from sober consciousness into uproarious merriment.
“When their characters were introduced, the show had been really serious,” Farnsworth said. “They came in right when we needed to laugh and were absolutely hilarious.”
However, the Thénardiers do not fit into the family-friendly category of characters. According to Nelson, they symbolize “the growing darkness in the story, a representation of life without faith.”
“It’s important that I give him life so that the contrast is shown even more vividly between a life marked by unbelief and a life marked by redemption, as is the case with Val Jean,” Nelson said.
Undertaking a show like Les Misérables can be a hard journey from the very beginning. Rigorous rehearsals and healthy habits were required for both actors and crew members.
“Putting together such a big, complex show in a short amount of time meant that the rehearsals were intense and quick,” Worthington said. “The thing that pushed us to get it done was our desire to do it well. Everything the show stands for really motivated us to succeed.”
Within the enormous scope of Les Misérables are incredible characters that require great passion and vulnerability. Fantine is one such character.
“It felt like a lot to live up to until I realized one thing — there are so many other girls who are currently doing this role all over the world,” Overmyer said. “… The Lord has given me this incredible opportunity, and I don’t want to live a moment of it in fear.”
Both Overmyer and Seaman have touched the hearts of many by telling their characters’ stories with humility and consistently giving the glory to God.
“I realized that my duty in this show is not to astound people or make them like me,” Overmyer said. “I am one of many servants to the Lord’s purposes for this show. It’s his story, after all.”
Seaman went on to describe the appreciation she feels for the opportunity to be a part of the performance.
“Bringing (Les Misérables) to life is such a blessing, and one I’m honored and grateful to the Lord for the opportunity to perform each night,” Seaman said.
The show will continue to run through Sunday, Oct. 20. Tickets can be purchased online at ticketreturn.com, over the telephone at (434) 582-SEAT or at the Vines Center box office. Discounts are available for students, seniors, military members and children.
“I hope the audience will see a story of a man who is being redeemed by God and that it will remind us all that no one is a lost cause,” Nelson said.