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'Les Miserables' returns to UAHS

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Upper Arlington High School's vocal music students will stage a timeless tale of romance, revolution and redemption in 19th-century France when they present the legendary musical Les Miserables Feb. 21-24.

Director Eric Kauffman said the production will mark the 10th anniversary of the high school's premiere of Les Miserables.

"Upper Arlington was one of the first high schools to premiere the student edition of the musical in 2003," he said.

He said the classic musical is a good fit for his students.

"I love the fact the entire show is sung, as an opera would be, because that is our forte," he said. "It is a big show and a big responsibility for our students. We have talked about that as a cast and everyone is working hard every day to do our best show."

Performances are scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 21-23 in the Upper Arlington High School auditorium, 1650 Ridgeview Road. A matinee performance is planned for 2:30 p.m. Feb. 24.

Kauffman said the cast from the 2003 production of the musical will be honored at the Feb. 23 performance.

Tickets are $10-$16 and may be purchased online at uavocalmusic.org, by phone at 614-487-5240, ext. 7464, or at the door.

Three of the leading roles -- Fantine, Jean Valjean and Cosette -- will be played by seniors Brittany White, Allan Labanowski and Audrey McMahon, respectively.

White said she is excited to sing the part of Fantine and the song I Dreamed a Dream.

"I feel very lucky to sing such an iconic song," she said. "The role is a real challenge. Fantine goes through a lot of things that are way out of the experience of a high school student."

She said the Les Miserables movie helped with research.

"The movie was so fantastic and added to my collection of ideas," White said. "I think the movie gave a fresh take on the show and it was great to have Anne Hathaway as a role model for this part. It was very inspiring."

Labanowski also found inspiration from the movie.

"I love the way Valjean grows in character through the entire show," he said. "In the prologue, he doesn't know what he is doing with his life, then has this awakening. I find it amazing how the character grows and the life choices he has to make."

McMahon said Cosette usually is played as completely innocent and naive.

"The way I look at it, she was raised by Valjean, but her mother is Fantine, who she has never met, but she is still her mother's daughter," McMahon said. "Fantine is sassy and aggressive, so I think Cosette would have some of Fantine in her personality."

Preparing for the role means a lot of practice, she said.

"Obviously, Cosette sings really high, so I've been trying to sing high C's every day," she said. "I'm also really looking at the lyrics of the text and not just the melody, because it's important to know what you want to express and how you would say the words if the melody was not there."

Ruba Elzein will play Eponine; Lexy Weixel plays Mme. Thenardier; Michael Roberts is Javert; Jack Mellon is Marius; Givi Garcia is Enjolras; and Sean Doyle plays Thenardier.

Kauffman said the high school theater has undergone major improvements since the 2003 production.

"We have greatly enhanced the technology in our auditorium in the last 10 years," he said. "The Vocal Music Boosters, the Upper Arlington Education Foundation and our PTO have put a lot of money into updating lighting and sound and the overall technology."

Sound capabilities also have been enhanced, with newer microphones and better speakers, he said.

"We've also added lighting -- the type they use on Broadway -- that didn't exist 10 years ago," he said.

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