Wednesday, November 6, 2002
The buzz is on for “Les Misérables.” People who have seen the Hood River Valley High School musical are raving about its power and quality.
It takes something special, in a small community, to generate genuine “buzz.” Usually, such hyped-up terms thrive in atmospheres that are artificial and anonymous.
But “Les Miz,” as the Tony-award winning musical is affectionately known, has definitely got people talking.
The real beauty behind the high school staging such a complex production is its value as a learning experience beyond acting and singing. Director Mark Steighner guided the cast through the history and diverse themes at the heart of Victor Hugo’s novel, on which the musical is based.
As Janet Cook reports on today’s page B1 Steighner said, “We’ve spent a lot of time as a cast discussing the many themes that pervade the book — the idea of good and evil, redemption, law and order, the plight of the poor, power and class — because the students need to understand that the story is still relevant.”
Relevant indeed. People around the world are still mounting the barricades in their attempts to gain their freedom or to express themselves. In September, “Les Miz” cast members visited and performed at Dignity Village, a homeless camp in Portland. Friday, residents of Dignity Village came to Hood River (details on page A1) to show support for their friends by attending opening night of the musical.
The reciprocal visit can only enrich the humanizing impact of “Les Miz” by enfranchising, at least in a small way, people whose lives resemble the characters on stage.
The musical runs Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights through Nov. 16. The production of the “school edition” of “Les Misérables” is the first one to be performed in Oregon or Washington.
Despite the unique circumstances surrounding “Les Misérables,” it is not the only local theater act in town. Edward Albee’s “Three Tall Women” — CAST Theater’s current production — is also deserving of the local theater-goer’s attention. Like HRVHS drama department, CAST continually delivers, be it comedy, drama or music, and the strong cast in “Three Tall Women” ensures a worthwhile theater evening. It concludes with 8 p.m. performances Friday and Saturday.
And yet another three women take center stage this month in Hood River — courtesy of a local civic group. The trio’s height varies, but what Kate McCarthy, Revelyn Rawdin and Mooreen Morris have in common is their contributions to the local and global community. For this, Soroptimist International will honor them Nov. 15 with the annual “Women of Distinction Award.”
It shows that on stage and in real life, there is power in community.