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TheatreWorks plans to present ‘Les Mis’
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After the announcement that Theatreworks Community Players’ fall musical would be “Les Misérables,” dozens of cast members performed two songs from the show at the Black Box Theatre Monday night. (Contributed photo)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

Sustained applause from the 125 or so onlookers filled the Black Box Theatre Monday night when the name of TheatreWorks Community Players’ fall musical production was announced: “Les Misérables.”

It is the world’s longest-running musical, winner of more than 100 international awards and seen by more than 65 million people in 42 countries, according to and

It’s the largest cast (60 plus) and biggest show in the history of the TheatreWorks Community Players (TWCP), which was established in 2004, according to TWCP officials and information on TWCP’s website.

After the announcement, dozens of the cast members, dressed in red shirts and black pants, performed two numbers from the show: “At the End of the Day” and “One Day More.”

Afterward, Gil Carter, former president of the board of TWCP, asked, “Does everyone have a glass?” before leading a toast to the cast, director, crew and success of the upcoming musical.

“Do not miss this musical extravaganza,” said Corbin Campbell, TWCP artistic director and director of “Les Misérables.” He added it is scheduled for Nov. 29, Dec. 1 and Dec. 5-7 in Patrick Henry Community College’s Walker Fine Arts Center.

Campbell said during his remarks and in an interview that he had been waiting for a decade for “Les Misérables” to become available for non-professional and community theaters. He directed a scaled-down, student version of the show in 2003 when he taught theater at Magna Vista High School, he said.

Here’s how summarized the plot of “Les Misérables,” which is based on the novel by Victor Hugo: “Jean Valjean, an ex-con, has transformed himself to become mayor and the owner of a factory. But when he is moved to help one of his former workers, Fantine, Valjean's past is brought to light,

and he is forced to abandon everything to run from Javert, the chief of police, dead set on bringing him to justice. Nine years later, Cosette, Fantine's child, has been raised by Valjean and has fallen in love with Marius, a fighter in the French revolution. With Javert on the hunt and a revolution tearing the city apart, everyone is forced to question what they’re willing to sacrifice in pursuit of love and justice.”

Karen Despot, costumer, said the show has about 200 costumes.

“It will be tremendous,” TWCP board member David Martin said of the upcoming musical. He added the play has “a very strong message for this community”: to not give up and that things will work out in the end.

“I love it,” Areica Pritt of Spencer said when asked about the announcement of “Les Misérables.” And “I liked what I saw tonight,” she said, adding that she thinks the cast will do a great job. She said she came to the announcement because of all the suspense and because her friend Heather Minter is in the cast.

TWCP was unable to announce the name of the show in advance because of royalty restrictions, according to a TWCP news release and TWCP officials. The cast members “auditioned knowing only it was a musical, but the show name was not disclosed to them until the first rehearsal on (Oct. 3),” the release stated.

To do “Les Misérables” in Martinsville “is amazing,” said Heather Minter, of Martinsville, a podiatry assistant. This is her first time in a show and she portrays Madame Thénardier (half of the money-grubbing couple who abuse the young Cosette).

Minter and Barbara Parker of TWCP said a number of families have at least two cast members in the show.

Minter’s sister, Elisabet Minter of Ridgeway, is in the ensemble. “I love it. I’m really glad to be a part of it. I couldn’t be more excited,” said Elisabet, a retail associate at Marshalls. This is her first production.

She said “Les Misérables” is about survival of the human spirit and rising out of one’s circumstances. Similarly, several others described it as a story of redemption.

Cynthia Knight of Summerfield, N.C., said her daughter, Chandres Pickett of Martinsville, and granddaughter, 9-year-old Ayden Pickett, are in the production. Knight said the play’s message of redemption offers a good life lesson: not to let your past mistakes or failures define you, but always reach for a goal.

Pickett, who is in the ensemble, and Ayden, who plays the young Cosette, said they are excited to be in the show. At first, Ayden didn’t realize how big a part she had, her mom said. Ayden, who is home-schooled, used to be part of the musical group WAM at First Presbyterian Church in Martinsville, and she plays the piano, according to her mom and grandmother.

Barbara Parker said she portrays a “lady of the night” and her husband, Andy Parker (a former Henry County supervisor), portrays Inspector Javert, the “second lead.”

“We’ve never been in a show together,” she said, adding that she’s usually working behind the scenes. She said they saw “Les Miserables” in London in the 1980s and also saw it on Broadway and in Greensboro, N.C.

Tickets will go on sale Nov. 15 at Piedmont Arts, where Barbara Parker is director of programs, or on the TWCP website. All tickets are $15.


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