Montreal, April 2014 – Productions Coracole and l’Orchestre Philharmonique Équitable are thrilled to present the beloved songs from Les Misérables, along with music from the Romantic era. Montreal area theatergoers can enjoy this treat throughout the month of May, in English and French, in three different locales: Ville Saint-Laurent,Laval and Saint-Léonard. This exciting collaboration marks the 5th anniversary of both companies. In Romance and Revolution: Music from Les Misérables & More, audiences will enjoy the creativity of Conductor, André Gauthier; Stage Director, Coralie Heiler; Vocal Director, Marc Deslandes; and Vocal Ensemble Director, Frédéric Vogel. The show plays in English on May 11 and 24 and in French on May 2 and 25. This is a great idea for Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 11 at 3pm. Throughout the run, proceeds benefit Kids Help Phone/ Jeunesse, J’écoute, offering 24-hour, anonymous phone and web counselling.
The story of Les Misérables takes place in the Romantic period; an artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that was in part, a reaction to the Industrial Revolution. Here we find themes of persistence, compassion, dreams, hope, sacrifice and love. Set in early 19th-century France, Les Misérables is the story of peasant Jean Valjean and his quest for redemption after serving nineteen years in jail for stealing a loaf of bread for his starving nephew. Along the way, he and numerous characters are swept up into a revolutionary period in France, where a group of young idealists make their last stand at a street barricade. Rounding out the show are orchestra pieces written in the Romantic era, including Alexander Glazunov's 'Le Petit Adagio' from The Seasons, recognizable in Quebec as the theme song from Radio-Canada’s Un homme et son péché and Les Belles Histoires des pays d'en haut. This unique project will present a full orchestra on stage, contrary to most local musical theatre productions which use pre-recorded tracks. Here, audiences will enjoy a wall of sound and vision produced by 100 dedicated, passionate and skilled artists on stage, including beautiful costumes and video projections.
For Stage Director Coralie Heiler, who plays Cosette in the French version of the show and is the Artistic Director of Productions Coracole, this is a dream come true, “Working with a live orchestra has always been a dream of mine and this is the perfect project. I adore the music and the story of Les Misérables. These songs are treasured, and the fundamental narrative of adversity, passion and justice, is as recognizable today as in the time of Victor Hugo’s novel.”
Besides being impassioned by the music, Vocal Director Marc Deslandes, who has worked with Productions Coracole on other shows as musical director, was inspired by the colossal challenge ahead of him, “I have wanted to work on a project of this scale for a long time, encompassing all aspects of a production at once; song and musical interpretation, directing, and acting. Productions Coracole pushes me to be very versatile and I love it.” For him, this music is an orchestral masterpiece, “The contemporary music, written for orchestra and voice by Claude-Michel Schonberg, showcases a variety of slow and fast movements, as well as a range of sounds including strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion, guitars, piano, voice and choir.” Deslandes can’t hide his enthusiasm, “Though I have been working non-stop on this huge piece of music, teaching thirty people to sing in two languages, I am more motivated than ever.”
André Gauthier, conductor for l’Orchestre Philharmonique Équitable (OPÉ), was drawn to the music, an equal balance of romantic-era ballads and military styles- glorious, stirring and emotional. Gauthier would like audiences to be touched by Javert’s transformation, “If someone as closed-minded as him could change, then to some extent, anyone could. The characters’ evolution throughout the story line resonates strongly for me.” ConcertmasterJessyca Pitt, who is also the president of OPÉ, is proud of the orchestra’s collective efforts, “Every musician has something demanding to play and has risen to our ambitious goals.”
Cast members are excited to be part of this production. Kenny Stein, singing the role of Valjean in French, feels as though he has been preparing for this show his whole life. For him, the artistic collaboration between Anglophones and Francophones is so important in the context of our current political climate, “Our cast is a 50/50 mix of the two languages, and the majority of us are cast in both versions, which means we spend rehearsals together. We have also made an extra effort to socialize outside of rehearsal. The time we spend getting to know each other as individuals directly contributes to the fight against intolerance; it cultivates understanding and acceptance of each other.” Alisha Ruiss, playing Fantine in the English version, hopes people leave the theatre wanting to be better citizens, “I would like audiences to think about sacrificing for the sake of others, like Fantine, Valjean, Eponine and many other characters.”