Photos courtesy of Lisa Schindlar
’Les Miserables’: school edition
OAKDALE—Kids for Kids Productions Inc. is bringing the musical version of Victor Hugo’s classic tale to Centennial Hall at Amity Education Group on Montauk Highway.
“Les Misérables,” set in early 19th-century France, tells the story of Jean Valjean, a French peasant, and his quest for redemption after serving 19 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread for his sister’s starving child. Valjean decides to break his parole and start a new life after a kindly bishop inspires him with a tremendous act of mercy, but is then hunted, relentlessly, by a police inspector named Javert. Along the way, Valjean and a slew of characters get swept up into a student rebellion in the aftermath of the French Revolution, leading to a battle for the soul of Paris and the hero, alike.
Director Carmella Newman has called the production a “labor of love” for her and her husband, Michael, who directs alongside her. “[‘Les Misérables’] has a personal meaning to us,” Newman said. “When we were asked to do the show, I let [the K4K board] know it would be a monster.”
Newman says the young actors are getting “second-to-none experience” when it comes to theatre production and even certain aspects of history. “As we run the show, the kids get more and more talented,” she added. “My husband and I have very high expectations, and they have risen to the occasion.”
Dan Barna, a recent Patchogue-Medford High School graduate, plays Valjean and Grantaire (a young revolutionary) on alternate days. Barna says performing in a production such as this one has been a dream of his since he was introduced to the Broadway revival several years back. “Being at K4K, especially under Mike and Mel [Carmella], has been so much fun,” he said. “It has pushed me to do more as an actor.”
Kids for Kids Productions, established in 1977, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to introducing young people to musical theatre by giving them the opportunity to perform in workshops and professionally produced shows.
Adam Brett, who plays Javert, has been with K4K for 13 years now, and says it has helped to shape the person he is today. “[‘Les Misérables’] is about hope and love, which I think is so important, especially today, and something that I carry through my life,” Brett said.
Christina Cotignola’s role as Madame Thénardier marks her first show with K4K. “[‘Les Misérables’] has been a big part of my life since I was young,” Cotignola said. “‘Master of the House’ was the first song that I heard from a musical, so now playing Madame Thénardier makes it come full circle for me.”
Emily Keleher, a recent Smithtown High School graduate, plays Eponine. “I’ve been coming to Kids for Kids for seven or eight years and it’s really been like my home away from home and my family outside of my family,” Keleher said.
Opening night is Thursday, July 19 at 7:30 p.m., with another show on Friday, July 20 at 8 p.m. There are additional performances on Saturday, July 21 at 1:30 and 8 p.m. and Sunday, July 22 at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m.
For more information, call the box office at 631-567-4770 or 631-567-4771, or message vice president Carrie Venezia at email@example.com.
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