Springer box office 'blowing up' as 'Les Mis' comes to town

acarlson@ledger-enquirer.comFebruary 25, 2014 

Every production of “Les Misérables” is a battle in its own way.

The musical, a decades-spanning adaptation of Victor Hugo’s massive novel about a (failed) French revolution, features dozens of characters, songs and plot twists.

Because of and/or despite all that, “Les Mis” is one of the most famous English-language musicals in the world — famously staged on a giant turntable, to accommodate the shuffling of scenery and time.

The Springer’s production has axed the spinning stage and the accents. In every other aspect, it appears to be a success.

“Right now, our box office is blowing up and we’ve never really seen anything like this kind of activity before a show, no matter how big it was,” said Springer Artistic Director Paul Pierce.

Pierce said that production revenue for this season is up $200,000 over last season. He said “Les Mis” is responsible for half of that.

Andy Harvey — who stars as Jean Valjean, the Frenchman whose suffering anchors the show — said that the large cast has meshed without issue.

Even better, “It’s been very easy,” Harvey said, “And for a show like ‘Les Mis,’ it’s rare to hear the word ‘easy.’”

Cast members are conscious of the show’s legacy and how important it is to cut through the story’s sprawl. They think of their characters.

The ensemble, who make up the show’s slate of students, peasants, soldiers and more, came in for rehearsals a week before the principals. Musical Director Debbie Anderson quickly got them all together.

“She made us go person to person — ‘What’s the first thing that happens in the show? And then what happens next and what happens next,’” said ensemble member Jim Pharr. “It’s 17 years in scope. So it was kind of nice to sit down and get the story of the show so we can figure out what we’re all singing about.”

That kind of speficity is important. But “Les Misérables” is nothing without its scale.

“The wall of sound that is going to hit that audience is unprecedented in this theater,” said actor Justin Stevens.

“Les Misérables” opens on Feb. 27 and runs through March 15, with 7:30 p.m. shows on Feb. 27, 28, March 1, 6, 7, 8, 13, 14 and 15; and a 2:30 p.m. show on March 9.

Tickets are $25-$50. Call 706-327-3688 or go to http://www.springeroperahouse.org to buy.

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