Stirling to stage ‘Les Misérables’ School Edition at the Guild Theatre.

Cast members from Stirling High School's production of 'Les Miserables' rehearse a scene from the musical.
BOLD CHOICE: Cast members from Stirling High School's production of 'Les Miserables' rehearse a scene from the musical.
Image: MADELEINE CHAPUT

Noted for their bold choice of plays over the years, Stirling High School will take  on the school edition version of the renowned French musical Les Misérables.

A cast of 96 pupils, aged 15- 18, and a dedicated production team have been rehearsing Les Misérables School Edition since October 2019 to bring the stories of Jean Valjean, Javert, Fatine and Cosette to the Guild Theatre in February.

“The rights to this musical are hard to come by and fairly expensive, so there aren't many schools that have done it before," Stirling High School drama teacher and director of Les Misérables School Edition, Marcel Corson, said.

"Stirling likes to push boundaries when it comes to school plays and productions," he said. 

Corson said the musical itself and its storyline were the true inspiration behind Stirling’s 2020 theatre offering.

“To me, the message of this musical is timeless. The book was written in the late 19th century at a time of great social and political unrest in France. The musical is very sad, but above all else it’s a story about the human spirit and how it can and does triumph over hardships,” Corson said.

“If we look at SA today, there is a lot of social unrest and there are many calls on government to fix various issues. In Les Mis there’s an emphasis on youngsters taking charge to change their community and their country — it’s essentially where student protest started, and I think that resonates with our students.”

He said that Les Misérables was one of the most successful musicals, having been translated into 30 different languages and taking the title as the second longest-running musical in the world.

“Before we even get to the story, it's a very impressive musical. It's the closest you'll get to an opera and requires each performer to develop their characters almost entirely through song, there's only about three speaking lines in the script,” said Corson.

Band master for the production, music teacher Jacques du Plessis said that while the school edition of the production had been shortened, the original musical’s sad nature and tricky musical writing had not been simplified or changed.

“It’s the school edition version of the musical, but the level of dedication and skill that is required by each character and musician makes it feel as though you are working on the actual Broadway show,” said Du Plessis.

The production’s musical director, fellow music teacher Kay Mosiane agreed: “These kids have had to work really hard; they’ve had to extend their range and hit insane notes to keep up. It’s amazing to see kids, who don’t do music normally, portray lead characters so well and hit the notes so perfectly.”

From school sports starts to choir members and science teachers turned artistic designers, the production has seen the entire school band together to ensure  it's success.

Corson said unique lighting, backdrops, iconic costumes and interesting staging were also to be expected. He said the school was excited to showcase its hard work.

Du Plessis said: “It’s so fulfilling to work in a job where we are able to do something like this and are given all the resources needed to make the production possible. The whole school has been involved in some way and we’re really grateful to have that support.”

“This production is definitely a career highlight for all three of us. It’s a dream come true to stage this musical,” said Mosiane.

Les Misérables School Edition will be staged at the Guild Theatre from February 25 to 29. Tickets are available at Computicket.

MadeleineC@dispatch.co.za


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