Bainbridge Island Review


Ovation! presents final performances of 'Les Misérables'

July 4, 2013 · 11:27 AM

Ovation! actors take the stage for the Act I Finale 'One Day More' in Ovation! Musical Theatre Bainbridge's new production of 'Les Misérables.' The final performances of the classic musical are this weekend. / Keith Brofsky photo

Ovation! Musical Theatre Bainbridge will present the final performances of “Les Misérables” this weekend at the Bainbridge High School Theatre.

Ovation! Musical Theatre Bainbridge, which is celebrating 10 years in 2013, is the first local theatre in the Northwest to present a new, re-imagined production of the Boublil/Schonberg musical classic.

"Les Misérables" is considered by many to be the most beloved musical in the world. Its original production won eight Tony Awards and ran for more than 6,000 performances on Broadway. Today touring productions roam the globe presenting the epic show in a variety of languages to tens of thousands annually.

Epic, grand and uplifting, "Les Misérables" packs an emotional wallop and is a powerful affirmation of the human spirit.

The score is packed with songs that have become musical theatre classics and standards including "On My Own," "I Dreamed a Dream," "Castle on a Cloud," "Do You Hear the People’s Sing," "A Little Fall of Rain," "Master of the House," "Bring Him Home," "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" and "At the End of the Day."

The new production is directed by Ron Milton.

“I was thrilled when 'Les Misérables' was finally released for local theatres to stage," Milton said. "I have loved the show since I saw it in London in 1989 and have wanted to stage it since that first exposure to it."

"It is a wonderful redemptive story set to glorious music and our fantastic cast is bringing a fresh, new life to it that’s thrilling to watch,” he added.

Musical direction is by Todd Hulet and will be presented with orchestra, the largest Ovation! has ever used and one that required a reengineered orchestra shell to accommodate it.

The show is Hulet's sixth and final mainstage production with Ovation!

"I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to bring this beautiful, moving show to life with Ron and I’m so proud of the production,” Hulet said.

More than 200 people auditioned for the Ovation! production from virtually all over – an Ovation! record.

“We even received a video audition from a young woman in Italy who wanted to be considered for Eponine,” Milton said.

Of the large talent pool Milton hand-selected 38 performers to bring his vision to life.

Royce Napolitino returns to the Ovation! stage in the pivotal role of Jean Valjean.

Napolitino has appeared in many other Ovation! productions including "The Pirates of Penzance" (The Pirate King, 2004 and 2012), "Into The Woods" (Cinderella’s Prince), "Beauty and the Beast" (Gaston), "Amahl and the Night Visitors" (King Kaspar) and "The Sound of Music" (Captain Von Trapp). He has also appeared with many other area theatres including the Northwest Savoyards, the Everett Historical Theatre, the Driftwood Players, the Seattle Symphony (baritone soloist) and more.

Popular local performer Michelle Lorenz-Odell returns to the stage as Fantine.

“I have taken four years off from performing to spend time with my twin daughters. Fantine was the one role that could lure me back and I am so impressed with the professionalism and care for the material I have experienced at Ovation!,” Lorenz-Odell said.

Lorenz-Odell has been seen on stages all over the Northwest including Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre, Harlequin Productions and many more.

Islander Tom Burt is playing the role of the relentless chief of police, Javert. Burt has been seen in a several Ovation! productions including "Oliver!" (Fagin), "Amahl and the Night Visitors" (Melchior) and "The Pirates of Penzance."

The roles of Eponine and Cosette are being played by Claire Elizabeth Dann and Christie Fitch respectively.

Dann is a recent University of Washington graduate who has appeared in musical theatre throughout Washington state. Fitch, a soprano, is a Kingston High School senior who has performed on many local stages. Both are making their Ovation! debut.

The unscrupulous Thernardier’s are played by Bainbridge Islanders Nelsen Spickard and Marijane Milton.

Spickard has played a variety of rascals throughout his long stage career, which included seasons with the Ashland Shakespeare Festival. Previous Ovation! roles include Fagin ("Oliver") and Doolittle ("My Fair Lady").

“I first met Ron 34 years ago when he was directing 'Oliver!' in Seattle and I was his Fagin. It’s been great fun to reunite with him on Bainbridge and share the stage again,” Spickard said.

Milton is cast as the ruthless Madame Thernardier.

“I have played villains and ingénues – villains are more fun,” Milton said.

Milton has been seen in many roles for Ovation! including The Witch ("Into The Woods"), Widow Corney ("Oliver!"), Ruth ("Pirates of Penzance"), Yenta ("Fiddler") and Mrs. Potts ("Beauty and the Beast").

Two local girls are taking on the crucial roles of Young Cosette and Gavroche.

Caroline Payne, a third-grader at Captain Charles Wilkes Elementary, is playing the neglected Young Cosette who sings the classic "Castle on a Cloud" while imagining a better life.

Priya Niehaus, a fifth-grader at Sonoji Sakai Intermediate School, is playing the street-wise boy Gavroche who aligns with the students on the barricade.

Lance Zielinski (Marius) has appeared with theatres all over the greater Puget Sound area, including Bellevue Opera, Seattle Opera, Snoqualmie Falls Theatre, Northwest Savoyards and many more.

“I am probably the most excited by the incredible team of young men I’ve assembled to play the students,” said Ron Milton, the director.

The students are led by Cade Strong as Enjolras.

Strong has appeared in several Ovation! productions including "The Pirates of Penzance" (Police Sergeant), "Brigadoon" (Charlie Dalrymple), "Cabaret" and "My Fair Lady."

Anthony Ascione (Grantaire), Todd Baylor (Courfeyrac), Matthew Cordell (Combferre), Michael Renney (Joly), Aric Stuckrath (Jean Prouvaire), Hank Hayden (Feuilly), Zak Ricards (Lesgles), Jack O’Neill, Jacob Cole and Ben Eager are the students he leads, along with Zielinski (Marius).

The cast also includes Pam Buchmeier, Robert Craighead (Bamatabois), Shani King, Kirk Knighton, Rowan Lanning, Les Lemon, Sarah Mather, Maddie O’Reilly, Jon Payne, Belle Pugh, Marybeth Redmond, Andy Rimkus (The Bishop of Digne), Elizabeth Rolfes, McKenna Sanford and April Spain.

The Ovation! "Les Misérables" production team includes Barbara Anderson (costume designer), Evan Anderson (lighting designer-no relation), Ron Mackley (stage manager), Piper Milton (assistant costumer) and Jan Feise (properties).

The final performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 5 and Saturday, July 6; and 3 p.m. Sunday, July 7.

Tickets are $19 to $27 at www.brownpapertickets.com, Winslow Drug, and by phone at 1-800-838-3006.

For more information, visit www.ovationmtb.com.


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