LES MISERABLES Continues to Touch Hearts, A WOMAN CALLED TRUTH Plays Single Public Performance This Saturday

by RoxyRegionalTheatre on April 11, 2014

Once before have I experienced that rarest of pleasures, joining a cast onstage after a brilliant performance for champagne and comestibles.

My first was at the Theatre Royal Windsor following a performance of the traditional English panto Dick Whittington and His Cat. The Windsor audience was invited to come up onstage to mingle and imbibe with the cast.

At my second such event, Saturday night’s grand opening celebration of Les Miserables, I was there, but not as a guest. Dressed in my best costume, I was uncorking champagne alongside fellow performer Emily Rourke, one of those rare actresses who go beyond the call of duty, assisting me in a race to release the bottled-up champagne as quickly as possible. Most of our time was spent on the floor next to a large tub overflowing with splits of champagne.

At one point I turned to see a coterie of well-turned-out patrons imbibing along with our cast in various costumes, from French peasant to aristocratically cutaway-coated gentlemen and over-crinolined ladies in ball gowns.

Costume designer Debby Dowlen-Noyes, on preview morning with sewing machine in tow, was busily altering, re-hemming and readjusting a myriad of touch-ups which made each actor’s ensemble that much more perfect, augmented by Lilo Rogoish’s vast APSU collection, Janet Mund’s reenacting apparel, and Meredith Gildrie’s handcrafted ensemble of pillow ticking dresses.

For weeks, Amber Wallace had been accurately copying from drawings and etchings of the period the various sets for Les Miserables, transforming locations in the blink of an eye.

I know art is enough to merely entertain; but if in its essence it can, while entertaining, touch your heart and move you — as this production so beautifully does — so much the better. There are no words to describe the visual, emotional and spiritual grandeur of this extraordinary musical, Les Miserables.

Les Miserables has at its root the story of a lone man’s search for the meaning of life. He ultimately finds the divine working in everything and experiences redemption and forgiveness, empathy and compassion toward others. That experience is central to Victor Hugo’s novel.

Les Miserables continues through May 10 on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7pm and Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, with a 2pm matinee next Saturday, April 19. (There is no performance on Saturday, April 26.)

I recently visited Marge Lillard, who is currently recovering from a fall and surgery. Marge is a legend in her time. She’s Ginger Rogers, Ruby Keeler and Tommy Tune all rolled up into one, and she’s one of the very first Roxy performers and supporters. We want to offer her the Jane Darwell role in our upcoming production of Mary Poppins.

Tomorrow at 2pm is our single public performance of A Woman Called Truth, a celebration of the life of Sojourner Truth. This historically accurate story is uplifting, as a black woman born into slavery pulls herself up and out of slavery to become a voice for freedom, a voice for all of us.

See you at the theatre!

[John McDonald]

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