‘Les Misérables’ makes its Utah Valley premiere

The cast of "Les Misérables," which premiered in Utah Valley at the SCERA Shell Outdoor Theatre Wednesday. (Mark A. Philbrick)
The cast of “Les Misérables,” which premiered in Utah Valley at the SCERA Shell Outdoor Theatre Wednesday. (Mark A. Philbrick)

“Les Misérables” debuted at the SCERA Shell Outdoor Theatre in Orem Wednesday. This marks the first time the show will be performed in its entirety in Utah Valley.

The musical is part of a series of three shows planned for the 30th anniversary of the SCERA Shell Outdoor Theatre, a performing arts staple in Utah Valley. The show runs from July 3 through July 19.

“This is the current, full version of the show,” said Jeremy Showgren, director of the musical. “We ended up offering parts to nearly 80 people, making this one of the largest casts I’ve ever had.”

The directors held open auditions with a large turnout and several hours of callbacks. Local talent, including BYU students, received the parts.

The way this ensemble has come together has been invigorating, and it’s enabled me to set up a very collaborative process as a director,” Showgren said.

Cast member Jeff Smith, 26, is a junior at BYU majoring in music education. Smith plays the part of Javert, the complex antagonist in the musical.

“Seeing ‘Les Mis’ in the unique outdoor venue is definitely an exciting experience,” Smith said. “You can come hear the song ‘Stars’ out underneath the actual stars.”

Another BYU student involved in the production is stage manager Crysta Powell, 22, a senior majoring in theater arts studies. Powell coordinates with the cast, directors and technical staff to make the production run smoothly.

“I love stage managing, and musicals are my favorite. This is my fourth summer stage managing at the SCERA, and I’ve loved being a part of this amazing show,” Powell said. “The past nine weeks have been some of the most stressful and rewarding. It’s amazing to think of everything that we have accomplished in so short a time. I am so proud of this show and everything everyone … has done for it.”

This production of the popular musical is slightly trimmed from the original 1980s version and features new orchestrations and livelier tempos. Differing from the more familiar 1980s production, these fresh orchestrations keep the show moving and the audience entertained.

Tickets are available for purchase online, over the phone and in person at the main office at SCERA Center for the Arts. Prices range from $10 to $14 for students. The showtimes begin at 8 p.m. Monday to Tuesday and Thursday through Saturday.

“There is an amazing story of love and redemption in ‘Les Misérables.’ I hope audiences are able to see some characters in a new light and that they’re able to relate to them in new ways. There is a powerful message of humility and selflessness, which is something we could all be reminded of once in a while,” Showgren said.

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