Now Showing: Les Miserables


You know a musical is popular when the hype starts a year before it even begins production.

The Saint John’s Prep spring musical of 2018 is going to be Les Miserables, the wildly popular show based on Victor Hugo’s roughly 900 page novel of the same name. The musical follows the story of Jean Valjean, an ex-convict who eventually becomes tied up in the Paris Uprising of 1832. The story has been beloved for centuries, and the musical had a movie version, released in 2012, that won three Golden Globes, three Academy Awards, and four British Academy Film Awards.

Ever since the musical was announced, the students of Saint John’s Prep have been preparing. Several of them already know which character they will audition for, what instrument they will play in pit orchestra, or how they will help with set design, costumes, or makeup. With an anticipated cast of over one hundred, the production will require all hands on deck.

“It’s a lot of music, and a lot of singing, and we’re going to have to be really focused, and we’re going to have to really mesh well together as a group,” said Caitlyn Skahen, a sophomore who has been in seven Prep productions in her four years at the school, when asked about what challenges she expects from the Les Miserables production.

Junior Gabriel Woodard, who played Judas in Prep’s 2017 production of Godspell, agreed. “I think this is probably going to be one of the biggest productions we’ve had at Prep, and I also think we’re going to have to start preparing a lot earlier than we usually do.”
The actors are not the only ones who will encounter challenges on the road to the final show. Anna McNamara, who played oboe in the pit orchestra in Prep’s fall 2016 production of Amahl and the Night Visitors said, “I think since it’s such a well-known musical, it’s going to be super challenging to get a good music production.”

Mr. Jeffrey Engholm, conductor to the pit orchestra of five Saint John’s Prep productions, adds, “The music is almost constant through the whole thing, we don’t get a lot of chances to sit around with dialogue…We have a big job of keeping it going and we’re going to have to do a lot of extra rehearsals, more so than we ever really have with any of the more traditional musicals.” In regards to the set, Mr. Engholm said, “This stage itself will be a big operation, because we’re going to be using a turntable stage.” Like always, the musical will be presented on stage at the St. Cloud Paramount theatre.

Despite the anticipated challenges, the Saint John’s Prep students are still excited and eager to put on the production of Les Mis. Certainly by the time next March comes, the students and staff will have created an engaging and entertaining musical—just like they do every year.