Dakota Wesleyan to present ‘Les Misérables’

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The people will sing, they will dream, they will build castles in the sky – and they are hoping for a large crowd.

Dakota Wesleyan University presents “Les Misérables” in late March on campus with a cast of 70 students, staff, faculty, community members and children. It’s a 150-year-old story of love and redemption with war as its backdrop, and now it will come to Mitchell through the DWU music and theatre departments, sponsored by Ron and Sheilah Gates and Wayne and Mary Puetz, all of Mitchell.

“Les Misérables” will be performed at the Sherman Center, on the Dakota Wesleyan campus, at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, March 21-22, and March 28-29, with matinee performances at 2 p.m., Sunday, March 23, and March 30. Tickets are $10 and are on sale now at County Fair Food Store, as well as online here.

“Les Misérables,” the novel written by Victor Hugo in 1862, was transformed into the world’s longest-running musical in 1985 and an award-winning musical film adaptation in 2012.

“I am excited for this production for many reasons,” said Dan Miller, theatre director at DWU. “The first reason is that this musical is such a beautiful piece of art that it absolutely gets my creative juices going. Secondly, we are so lucky to have Clint Desmond in the lead of Jean Valjean, a character who needs to be played by someone as talented as Clint. Third, this is a huge production. Bigger than anything we have done at DWU in many, many years and I want to share all of these with our audiences.”

The leading characters include: Dr. Clinton Desmond, DWU choral director, as Jean Valjean; Jason Zehr, of Mitchell, as Javert, Valjean’s counterpoint and antagonist; Lacey Reimnitz, DWU senior of Corsica, as Fantine, the part made famous by Anne Hathaway’s Oscar-winning performance in the film adaptation; Kira Stammer, a junior from Mitchell, as Cosette, Fantine’s grown child; Madi Miller, DWU sophomore of Mitchell, as Eponine; Mark Puetz, of Mitchell, as Marius; James Van Oort, of Mitchell, as Thenardier, with Lisa Stanley, a DWU freshman from Loveland, Colo., as his wife, Madame Thenardier; Ryan Antaya, of Plankinton, as Enjolras; Chris Foster, of Mitchell, as the Bishop; Cameron Gueger, of Mitchell, as Gavroche; and area children Kiauna Hargens and Reese Reichert as young Cosette and young Eponine.

Madi Miller, 19, who has been in smaller roles in DWU musicals “Xanadu” and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat,” will play the part of the tragic Eponine, who goes from being the spoiled child of the miserable Thenardiers to living half on the streets with them thieving their way through life. She eventually falls in love with Marius, who never truly “sees” her, leading to one of many heartbreaking scores, “On My Own.”

I want to bring a certain amount of lovability to Eponine,” Miller said. “In a lot of the productions of ‘Les Mis’ I have seen, the actress playing Eponine gives her a sassy edge and makes her hard to get attached to. I want the audience to be heartbroken about Eponine’s situation; feel the emotion she is feeling along with her.”

Cosette is the character most identifiable with the musical because the child’s face is used for almost all promotional materials. The young version of Cosette sing’s “Castle on a Cloud,” and later grows into the young woman who steals Marius’s heart and fuels Valjean’s desire to be a better man.

Kira Stammer, 20, has only performed in one other DWU musical, last year’s “Xanadu,” where she played the evil sidekick Calliope and stole a lot of laughs from the audience. This part will be far more serious for her.

“My mom has been a fan of this musical for 25 years, and when she heard they were making it into a film she begged me to go with,” Stammer said. “To me, Cosette is the beacon of hope in the show, and I want to make sure the audience understands that. I hope to play the part in a way that does justice to the character.”

“It will truly be an extraordinary show,” Miller added. “I think audiences can expect an emotional roller coaster. They will definitely laugh and cry while attending this production. It'll be nothing like DWU has seen before.”

Senior Lacey Reimnitz, 21, of Corsica, is a criminal justice, human services and music triple major. This is the first musical she has participated in for DWU and won the coveted part of Fantine, a part made famous by Anne Hathaway’s 2012 film performance.

“I was expecting an ‘extra’ role, but was lucky enough to get a call back for a couple of lead characters,” Reimnitz said. “After they offered me the role of Fantine, I couldn’t turn it down. As a rather inexperienced actress, I have struggled to give the character true emotion and meaning; however, I am brushing up on my skill set and hope to portray her in a way that reaches out and touches the audience.

“I think the expectations for this show will be extremely high. Many people are familiar with it and will be excited to join us in the experience. The stage crew and cast are working extremely hard to make sure that this is the best performance that it can be. I believe that we can create something that the Mitchell community will never forget.”

DWU is affiliated with the Dakotas Conference of the United Methodist Church and offers majors and minors in more than 40 liberal arts and professional fields. 

For more information about the music and theatre departments at DWU, contact the enrollment services office at (605) 995-2650, or 1-800-333-8506

Categories: News
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