North Summit High takes on ‘Les Miserables’ |

North Summit High takes on ‘Les Miserables’

North Summit High School in Coalville will present the musical "Les Miserables" on Jan. 23 through Jan. 25 and Jan. 27. (Scott Iwasaki/Park Record)

After the success of North Summit High School’s production of "e Bye Birdie" last year, director Kathy Chappell and music director Steven Hunter had a few meetings to decide this year’s show.

They both felt it was time to do "Les Miserables." The performances will be from Jan. 23 through Jan. 25 and Jan. 27.

"We discussed this at great length last spring to determine if we were capable of doing this," Chappell said during an interview just before rehearsals on Monday. "We felt like it was possible because of the talent we would have this year."

Both Chappell and Hunter felt their students could fill the several lead roles of the story.

"We have a small student body," Chappell explained. "There are about 300 students total in grades 9 through 12, so our pool is rather small to draw from, but we felt this was our year to do ‘Les Mis.’"

The kids were ecstatic when they heard the news.

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"I also think they were a little surprised," Chappell said. "But they were so excited from the beginning."

Many of the students were familiar because of Tom Hooper’s Academy Award-winning 2012 film, she said.

"That really helped, even though the stage version is so much different," Chappell said.

Auditions were held last August and the roles were announced in September.

"The kids embraced their roles, and it has been remarkable to see how our student cast fits the characters," Chappell said. "It’s been wonderful to see how hard they’ve worked. And I think it’s going to be an outstanding production."

There are 38 students in "Les Miserables."

"I would put our cast up against any high school and I feel like the audience will enjoy seeing the kids fill these characters," Chappell said.

Hunter has seen the young actors grow and mature during rehearsals.

"Living in Coalville, they’ve lived somewhat sheltered lives, so to grasp what these people’s lives had been like and the suffering they went through has been hard for them to picture," he said. "So in a lot of ways they have been able to open their eyes and see what the world was like back then."

The music helps the actors tap into their emotions, Hunter said.

"When they sing you actually believe that they are feeling what the characters feel."

Getting the production up and running was a smooth process.

"Once we figured out we had the pieces in place, a lot of things took care of themselves," he said.

A big help was the cast.

"The kids are extremely self-motivated and would come to us already prepared for their parts," Hunter said. "It’s been pretty easy to put together because of their talents.

"Also, one of the unique things about our cast is many of them are on the football team or the wrestling team," he said. "They are the best our school has to offer in many fields and are great at many things."

Hunter also had nothing but good things to say about the 20-piece orchestra.

"It is comprised basically of community members, and they’ve been really dedicated," Hunter said. "We started rehearsing a month ago and they have spent hours preparing."

The costumes were mostly designed by Chappell and she thanks parents for their help.

"They have volunteered to do many things," she said. "They’ve sewn costumes, helped with set pieces and brought lunches during long rehearsals."

The sets were conceived by Chappell and Hunter.

"The two of us sat down and shared visions several times," Chappell said. "We extended the stage four feet, and we have a revolving stage, which is a tradition for ‘Les Mis.’ We have some amazing men with building backgrounds in the school and the sets go well beyond our dreams.

"Taking this on was risky because it’s serious in nature and there are adult themes," Chappell said. "It’s so familiar with the public, so I’m so proud of the students and the orchestra."

North Summit High School will present "Les Miserables" Jan. 23 trough Jan. 25 and Jan. 27. For more information, call North Summit High School at 435-336-5656 .