ORWELL — Time is almost up for participants in this year’s fall drama “Les Miserables” at Grand Valley. With little more than three weeks to go, actors are urged to have their lines memorized, stage crew is pressured to have the set constructed, and tech crew is pressed to have the lights configured and the sound board prepared. There is certainly a lot of work to be done.
This year’s production is the play rendition of “Les Miserables,” based off of the famous text by Victor Hugo. The play contains much more action than plays of years past, and is therefore dramatically demanding in a different sense than returning actors are used to. Monologues are countered with dramatic silences, mindless banter is given new meaning through increasingly violent motions, and sudden bursts of action are certain to captivate the audience.
There is a higher level of stress placed on actors for this play than previous plays. Senior Gabe Kovats, who not only participates in football and basketball, but plays the lead character of Jean Valjean, brushed off the stress with a humble attitude. “I like what I do, so it’s really not that difficult,” Kovats said.
Senior Wayne Ritchie, another student with a multitude of activities he’s involved with such as soccer, construction manager, and the lead role of Marius, said, “I’m honored to be Marius. I feel almost no stress. The only real hard part has to be memorizing lines.”
Ritchie doesn’t go it alone in the construction crew. Dan Harrison, an adult helper, is there to make sure construction goes smoothly. “I’m here to make sure that the kids know how to build what they need to build. If they don’t, I show them how,” said Harrison. His biggest challenge is getting the kids to work together, he said.
Also diligently working to put together the production is the tech crew. They operate the lights and soundboard so that actors can be seen and heard.
Sophomore Robert Lustig, tech crew member of two years and student tech director, said that his biggest challenge is untangling and taping cords.
“If the cords are tangled, they can go bald and possibly electrocute the actors. If the cords aren’t taped, actors can trip on stage,” Lustig said. “It’s also very important to make sure the lights are secured and the gels (which give the lights color and effect) are attached properly.”
Behind the entire program is the director, Donald Dingman. Dingman and his family direct the show, approve of costumes, oversee construction, double check the tech, and create the program. The ad sales involved in the program bring in about $4,000, and are used to pay the royalty fees of the spring musical. Dingman doubles as a high school math and physics teacher with a master’s in applied mathematics.
“I really think that where we are, a lot of our kids are geographically locked,” Dingman said about the involvement of drama productions. “They don’t get to see live theater art. Knowing these kids can experience it makes it worth it.”
Grand Valley’s “Les Miserables” will premiere Nov. 22 and will run through Nov. 23. The production will begin at 7 p.m. both days and admission will be $5, with concessions available for additional purchase.