Sequim rises up for ‘Les Mis’ shows

Stage adaptation of Hugo’s novel comes Lavender Weekend

Lilianna Mitchell

One of the biggest stage productions ever is making its way to Sequim in time for Lavender Weekend.

The powerful story of Jean Valjean, Fantine and Cosette comes to life in Peninsula Family Theater’s musical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s novel “Les Misérables.” Shows run July 17-Aug. 2 in Sequim High School’s auditorium.

With a large cast and set accustomed to the high school’s annual operetta, director Robin Hall said everything is coming together just right for the dramatic musical.

“It’s a great show and I knew we had some really good voices in the community,” she said.

“Everyone who tried out fell right into place. Everything just kind of fit.”

Hall’s Jean Valjean, played by Mark Lorentzen, in this show was her inspiration to set up the production in the first place.

“The high school choir did a medley of songs at a performance earlier this year and I happened to be sitting next to Robin who said, ‘I wish I could do this for real,’ Lorentzen said. “I asked, why not? So we went from there.”

“Les Misérables” is the first major production from Peninsula Family Theater after several years of focusing on children’s workshops in the summer, Hall said.

Cast and crew began working on it right after “The Sound of Music” operetta toward the end of May.

Hall’s goal is to bring in enough support for another summer production in 2015.

For their adaptation of “Les Misérables,” Hall said rather than use a turntable rotating set, they’re using projections with Hugo’s original paintings.

When the high school choir visited New York in March, Hall saw the Broadway show twice in one day and plans to adapt a lot of the direction that they are doing on stage now.

Story for the ages (spoiler alert)

For those unfamiliar with the story, “Les Misérables” follows Jean Valjean (Lorentzen) after he is released from prison for stealing a loaf of bread. He flees from Inspector Javert (James Willis) after breaking his parole and changes his identity. Valjean assumes the role of a factory owner and comes to help one of his former workers

Fantine, played by Anne Lorentzen, as she is ostracized for having an illegitimate child. She sells her belongings, hair and self to pay for her daughter Cosette’s medicines. Before Fantine’s health wanes and she eventually dies, Valjean vows to take care of Cosette (played by Lilianna Mitchell and Kathryn Lorentzen).

Years later, Valjean is still pursued by Javert into the Paris Uprising of 1832 while Cosette seeks her true love Marius (Braden Torras).

Families together

For Sequim’s shows, mothers and sons, fathers and sons, and brothers and sisters come together on stage including four siblings Mark, Anne, Lisa and Kathryn Lorentzen who all play integral parts. Their father John leads music direction and recently was nominated for the 5th Avenue Music Awards for Outstanding Music Direction against 120 other productions by 99 schools.

The roots of “Les Misérables” runs deep for the Lorentzens. Mark and Anne remember fondly performing impromptu shows for babysitters in their living room.

“Our parents exposed us to it when we were younger,” Anne said. “(The babysitters) were probably terrified.”

Ten years ago, Mark Lorentzen first took to the stage as Jean Valjean for the first time in his Reno, Nev., high school’s production of “The Les Misérables Schools’ Edition.” As a precursor to this show, he sang several songs earlier this year in a Cabaret performance. He called this show “very epic” and his favorite.

On its appeal, Mark Lorentzen said it has a little bit of everything and was written with intentions for a universal audience.

“It shows the triumph of the human spirit,” he said, “and it’s such a great story.”

His sister Anne finds Fantine to be a dream.

“It was my dream role as a child,” she said. “I felt for Fantine the most watching the play.”

Singing “I Dreamed a Dream” is something she always wanted to perform on stage, too.

“‘Les Misérables’ is so lovely and appreciated by so many people,” she said. “Ultimately it’s about loving your fellow man.”

 

‘Les Misérables’

by Peninsula Family Theater

Location: Sequim High School auditorium, 533 N. Sequim Ave.

Dates: 7 p.m. July 17-18, 24-26, 31, Aug. 1-2

12 p.m. July 19

Tickets: $20 premium, $15 adults, $12 senior/children, $10 balcony

Advance tickets: Beyondthebarricades.com, penfamtheater.org, Joyful Noise Music Center, calling 460-1432 or at the door.

 

Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

 

 

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