For Aidan Mayes the chance to sing I Dreamed A Dream in a production of Les Misérables is a something she has always dreamed of.
Being chosen to play the character of Fantine in Soundstage Productions performance of the musical which runs at the Penticton Lakeside Resort Jan. 22 to 25 seemed a little like destiny.
“It was destiny, yes,” she agreed and explained why. “This is actually my favourite musical of all-time because the music in it is so spectacular. Fantine sings I Dreamed A Dream which is my favourite song in the whole show. When I was younger I sang it at the Kiwanis Music Festival and I won first place.”
Fantine, the single mother who raises Cosette, has a shorter role in Les Misérables but one that Mayes feels is very poignant.
“It is such a meaningful role because it really adds so much to the other characters after you meet Fantine. The whole feeling in the show is so real and is about the human spirit and makes you want to root for the underdog,” said Mayes.
The singer/actress has been part of a couple of previous Soundstage productions, but said this is one of the biggest and quite possibly the best she has been involved in.
“It’s so moving, even in rehearsals I have to wipe away tears because I am so blown away by the talent in this cast that I can’t believe it is community theatre. I think definitely some of the people in this show could be doing this on Broadway,” said Mayes, adding she has seen Les Misérables in the West End of London. “We have a lot of new talent joining us, including the lead Dan Shaw who plays Jean Valjean and I feel so lucky that we found him. That character is the heart of the whole show and Dan is spectacular.”
Soundstage Productions director Lynne Leydier said she has been waiting on a list for the rights to Les Misérables full production, rather than the junior reduced score production that was available. The Tony-award winning play is beloved by many across the world from stages on Broadway to London.
“I think it is the music and I think people do grasp the characters and what they are going through fairly easily. Unrequited love, losing a child, poverty, what you are willing to risk for your child, choices in what is the right way to go and justice. This show explores all these things,” said Leydier.
The director believes because the topics and themes are so relatable to many of the events in people’s lives today the musical is a classic.
Her cast and chorus of about 50 people have filled out the roles but performing the full version also has meant a larger budget to create a three-tier stage, detailed sets, costumes and pay royalty fees.
“All the money that comes in to Soundstage is on that stage. People are seeing where their money goes on that stage and I don’t think they will be disappointed. The costumes are fantastic, the sets are fantastic and the backstage crew is doing a phenomenal job and the orchestra is fantastic,” said Leydier. “I think we will do Penticton proud.”
Soundstage’s Les Misérables runs three hours with an intermission in the middle, one of the longest productions the theatre group has put together. Because Leydier does not believe in singing along to pre-recorded music, the cast will be accompanied by live musicians including Dennis Nordlund on the piano, Stefan Bienz on bass, Sandy Andres on strings, Dillys Richardson on brass and Scott Gamble on drums.
Leydier said the cast has been putting in long hours on the weekend to prepare and the younger portion of the ensemble is having a great time.
“The kids have been great and I think it will be an experience of a lifetime for them. Everyone is getting excited for this,” said Leydier, who added one of the youth, Beamer Wigley, was so excited to be involved he created a Lego version of the barricades set at home.
One of Leydier’s favourite moments of the musical is the performance of One Day More.
“It is pretty powerful with everyone singing and in full voice. I really like the ensemble and they are really strong, as is the cast.
Soundstage Productions was first conceived in 1990 with variety-style formats that featured a diversity of talent form the community. Gradually more complex and professional productions have been staged and the level of talent in the community that has risen to the challenge continues to grow. One example of that is Dustin McGifford who is playing the role of Marius. Originally from Penticton, and now living in Kelowna, he is becoming well known in the music world as part of the duo Honest Woods with his girlfriend who is also in the theatre production. After taking a break from theatre to focus on school, McGifford returns to the stage.
“The music and melody lines repeat upon themselves that is why I love Les Miz. Then there is the story of redemption. It is amazing to be part of this show because it is so big, everyone has become like extended family,” said McGifford.
Other performers who have taken on lead roles in the production include Michael Welsh as Javert, Mandy Cole as Eponine, Saige Carlson as Cossette, Pat Brown as Enjolras, Randall Robinson as M. Thenardier, Beth Scott as Mme. Thenardier, Beamer Wigley as Gavroche, Maya Lefebvre as Little Cossette, Ray De Blasi as Bishop, Paul D’Aoust as Forman and Tyler Evans as Bamatabois.
Les Misérables runs from Jan. 22 to 25 at 7 p.m. at the Penticton Lakeside Resort. A Saturday matinee will run at 1 p.m. on Jan. 25. Tickets are $45 (plus taxes) and available at the Lakeside front desk
Other Soundstage cast include:
Students – Ryu Okayama, Thomas Hunter, Tyler Evans, Jay Demetrick, Andrew Zender, Curtis Lloyd, Alex Holzhaus, Richard McDonald, Paul D’Aoust
Women – Barb Lefebvre, Amy-Rae Goodman, Amanda Andrews, Annie Scott, Michelle Younie, Joanie Koch-Kalanj, Cindy Gilbert, Adrienne Penner, Teigan Litke, Yanti Rowland, Ainsley Harrington, Jill Barnes, Lisa Baxter, Lana Corbett, Sarah Senecal
Thendardier Gang – Regis Palmer, Martin Pedersen, Ray De Blasi
Costumes – Kerry Younie
Production Assistant – Angela Stickland
Set Decor – Ted Senior
Backstage – Debbie Graham, Anne Rabbitte
Props – Michelle Younie
Sound – Rob Aarden
Lights – Trevor Evans
Musicians – Keyboards – Dennis Nordlund, Bass – Stefan Bienz, Strings – Sandy Andres, Brass – Dillys Richardson, Drums – Scott Gamble
Kids: Lara Moshaver, Tiana Ferlizza, Annabella Nordlund
Plus many more backstage crew.