VCHS presents ‘Les Mis’ at Vilar
EAGLE – There’s a reason why “Les Misérables” has enjoyed such a long run on Broadway, and why so many fans will miss it now that it’s closing. The musical may not always be the cheeriest of plays, but it’s one that never fails to tug at the heartstrings. More to the point, perhaps, it speaks to the heart of man.”It’s a message of hope, that the evil person can be changed,” Vail Christian High School Music Director Rick Ragan said. Vail Christian High School stages the beloved musical Friday at the Vilar Center in Beaver Creek. Sixty-three students – a solid third of the school’s student body – will sing, dance and touch your heart, too, as they relate this epic tale of human failings, triumphs and redemption.The play opens in a French prison in the 1700s. Imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread to save his starving relatives, the play’s hero, Jean Valjean, played by Josh Sibley, is released from prison 19 years later. A kind bishop, played by Jaryd Francis, takes him in for the night, only to be repaid by Valjean’s theft of his silverware. But it is the Bishop’s forgiveness that transforms Valjean’s life. He becomes the mayor and businessman in a small town, until a former prison guard, Javert, played by Ian Dunlevie, is transferred to the area. When he recognizes Valjean he hounds him mercilessly.
Valjean becomes involved with poor, single mother Fantine, played by Bradie Beagley, who on her deathbed, asks Valjean to take care of her young daughter, Cosette, played by Molly Brooks. She becomes the play’s one bright ray of hope. Meanwhile, the poor of France are planning a revolution, and in the midst of it, the grownup Cosette falls in love with revolutionary Marius, played by Galen Jacobs. The entire cast becomes entwined in the revolution and, in an ultimately uplifting ending, hope and redemption are glimpsed at last.Although the musical, based on a novel written about three centuries ago by Victor Hugo, is not Christian-based, its inherent message echoes beliefs these Vail Christian students can relate to.”I think it’s a really good message,” said Vail Christian senior Brady Beagley, an Eagle resident, who plays Fantine. “It’s about grace versus love. I think everybody has heard of “Les Mis,” but I don’t think that they know the theme.””The message of ‘Les Miserables’ is that the love of God can change anyone; no one is beyond God’s grace,” Ragan said.Robin Smart, vocal coach for many of the students, said the play is complicated and filled with symbolism that represents the socio-economic, political and religious issues of Victor Hugo’s day. Valjean represents a life redeemed, whereas Javert is the spiritual opposite, believing no one can be redeemed. The bishop represents goodness and forgiveness. Cosette is a representation of purity, while the innkeepers represent sin and debauchery.
“Every character in ‘Les Mis’ represents something,” Smart said. Students who live in Eagle and Gypsum fill many of “Les Miserables'” roles, including some of the leads. Eagle resident Josh Sibley, a senior, said he likes acting but got into it initially because his friends did – and, he adds, he’s had a blast. After he played a smaller role in last year’s “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” he determined to win the role of Jean Valjean this year – and he did. Smart said Sibley’s own modest demeanor fits Valjean’s humbleness perfectly. “I see him as a man reborn,” Sibley said. “He stands for redemption and a second chance at life.” He admits to finding it easier to portray Valjean when he is angry, than when he is quietly forgiving. But adds that he likes the fact that his character “is a man’s man and tries to be an honest guy, who doesn’t try to swindle anyone.”
Sophomore Galen Jacobs, a Gypsum resident, said his character, Marius, is conflicted and struggles between two worlds. He has to decide whether to be a revolutionary or go with his heart and the woman he loves: – Cosette. Jacobs said it was challenging to capture Marius’ struggle and his personality on stage. “I’m not normally like that in real life.” Jacobs said. Ragan said the school had originally planned to do a far lighter musical – “Singing in the Rain,” but after reviewing a DVD of the highlights of “Les Mis” and again listening to the music, he decided to go with it. “The reason I chose it was it took a lot more of use of our talent – much more than the other musical we had planned to do,” Ragan said. “‘Les Mis’ has several solos that showcase the school’s awesome group of talent this year.”Vail Christian High School is presenting the student version of “Les Mis,” which is still meaty at two hours versus the three on Broadway. And all of the favorite tunes, written by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg, are still there.
“Les Miserable” will play one night only at 7 p.m. on Friday. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the Vilar Box Office and by calling 845-TIXS (8497) Tickets are $10 for students and $15 for adults.Vail, Colorado