From ‘Les Mess’ to ‘Les Miz’

Jean Valjean (senior Eddie Egan) comforts the dying Fantine (freshman Rose Lynn) during the song “Come to Me”  in a scene from Do You Hear the People Sing? The benefit concert will feature songs from the musical Les Misérables.By Amanda Thorogood

For anyone who plans to attend Alpha Psi Omega’s Do You Hear the People Sing? this weekend, director Michele Danna has a warning: Hold on to your seat.

The junior secondary education and English major has admitted to literally “falling off my chair at rehearsal due to the voices on stage.”

Do You Hear the People Sing?: A Benefit Concert Supporting the Michael P. Donohue Memorial Scholarship Fund is a compilation of music from the world-renowned musical Les Misérables, more commonly known as Les Miz.

“This show is going to be both hysterical and heartbreaking,” said Danna.

Les Miz is a long-running and Tony award-winning Broadway show that follows the lives of numerous poor French characters in the 19th century. Among them is Jean Valjean, a former convict who struggles to escape his past.

Rather than act out the entire musical, the performance will be more like a concert and will showcase a few of the most prominent songs in Les Miz.

“It was difficult deciding what pieces to use without ending up with the entire show,” said Danna. “We wanted [the show] to flow so we chose the main pieces of the story and added some narration.”

The show will feature selections including “On My Own,” “I Dreamed A Dream” and of course, “Do You Hear the People Sing?” According to senior Eddie Egan, who plays Valjean, it will be a memorable experience for all.

“Those who do not know the music of Les Miz are really in for a treat, and those who have heard the music before know that its music is not easily forgotten,” said Egan.

Although the show can be categorized as a concert, the cast goes beyond just standing at a microphone and singing, Danna said.

“There is an incredible amount of talent on one stage,” she said. “They bring creativity [and] individuality, and they’re always willing to try [new] things.”

According to Egan, having the show in the Spitz Studio Theater also makes for a less intimidating and more intimate setting that allows the audience to feel more involved with the production.

“We should never be in a position where we would cut off one side of the audience, and in turn, some would not be able to see us at all,” said junior ensemble member Maria Panvini. “It is a more concentrated stage movement.”

Upon hearing of the death of Michael P. Donohue, members of Alpha Psi Omega decided that all ticket sales would go toward the Michael P. Donohue Memorial Scholarship Fund. Donohue was the brother of Rider alumna Katierose Donohue, who was also extremely involved in the theater department and a friend to many Alpha Psi Omega members.

“Alpha Psi Omega productions are all about being able to bring comfort in a time of need through our talents,” said Alpha Psi Omega President Kerry Bowers.

Having both inspiration and a cause, Danna and the rest of the production team cast the actors before winter break. The cast was then responsible for becoming familiar with the music before returning for the spring semester.

“During the auditions, Erin Ludwig [the assistant director] and I were adamant on casting actors who could sing and singers who could act,” said Danna. “We wanted a cast that would breathe life into each piece.”

Danna also credits her ability to run the rehearsals to the cast members and says that although they have a lot of fun, their work has not suffered.

“I have seen this show go from something we warmly referred to in the early stages of rehearsal as ‘Les Mess’ to a beautifully inspirational production,” said Danna.

Do You Hear the People Sing? can be seen in the Spitz Studio Theater tonight at 8 p.m. and tomorrow at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $5.

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