Monday, April 23, 2018
News Roundup

Stage West gets okay to produce Les Misérables

For 25 years, you could ask almost any ambitious community theater group the one show they would most like to do, and the same name would come up time and again: Les Misérables.

Based on French writer Victor Hugo's classic novel set in 19th century France, it's a timeless story of love, redemption, revolution and human frailties, with music to make you weep with joy and characters to break your heart.

It opened in London in 1985 and has been running ever since — at one point, in three different venues. It played Broadway for 6,680 performances from 1987 through 2003 and again from 2006 to 2008, and has played in 42 countries in 21 languages.

But, for some unknown reason, the licensing company and those who own the performance rights haven't allowed community theaters to do the show.

Until last Friday, that is, when Stage West Community Playhouse was granted the right to do the full-blown, Broadway version of Les Mis, as it's affectionately known, in November 2013.

"We will be one of the first (community theaters) to do this show in the area," said Barbara Everest, president of the theater's board of directors. "We have been looking to do this for years, kept on checking the (license company's web) site and checking the site for it to come up. We signed for MTI (Music Theatre International) to notify us when it was available. We got an email last week and put our application in immediately. They responded within 24 hours, and we got the signed contract."

And the theaters leaders went wild.

"We've been screaming for three days," Everest said.

Although all the details — director, whether to rent or make costumes, how to do the complicated set — are still up in the air, Stage West decided to announce that it will do the show so that top actors in the area will make plans to be available during the rehearsal and performance period.

"We want to reach people not only in Hernando County, but also in Pasco and Pinellas," Everest said.

Hopefuls should expect a lot of competition for parts. Les Mis is the kind of show that actors want to do and are willing to drive long distances in order to play a part. It has many plum roles and gorgeous music, so the drive would be worth it.

The show may be part of the regular season, or it may be presented as a "special," much as the Straz Center in Tampa does with premium properties such as American Idiot and The Book of Mormon, which can be extended beyond season ticket times or played as standalones.

Patrons might expect a higher ticket price, too, as the show is costly to do. Many of the players do as many as five characters (soldier, farmer, prisoner, cleric, sailor, for example) with five different costumes from hat to shoes. The sets are large and complicated, and expensive, though it's likely that the professional Show Palace Dinner Theatre down the road will allow its creative staff to help out, as it's done in the past.

The show will be a huge challenge for Stage West, but this is a theater that welcomes challenges both on its large Main Stage (Man of La Mancha, Into the Woods, Chicago, Sweeney Todd, for example) and in the Forum, which has seen some really awesome performances (Death of a Salesman, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Proof, Doubt).

Interestingly, the movie version of Les Mis will be released next month, with Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway and Amanda Seyfried as stars.

For those thinking that the movie coming out so close to the Stage West version would hurt the local theater's ticket sales, just remember that the movie version of Chicago came out not all that long before Stage West did that show, and not only did Chicago do so well that the local bunch had to add a performance, they closed the show with a waiting list of people who couldn't get a ticket.

Comments
Having Cuba in the name of your company can be a financial risk and there is no solution

Having Cuba in the name of your company can be a financial risk and there is no solution

With the third largest Cuban American population, Cuba’s culture is celebrated throughout the Tampa Bay area and in a diversity of ways.Flags hang in homes, fashion is worn, music performed, food served.But be wary of honoring that heritage by puttin...
Updated: 3 minutes ago
FHP: Man struck, killed by car in Trinity

FHP: Man struck, killed by car in Trinity

TRINITY — A man was killed after he was struck by a car while walking in the street near Trinity and Tamarind boulevards early Monday, according to Florida Highway Patrol.Phillip Meadows, 49, of New Port Richey, was wearing dark clothing while walkin...
Updated: 3 minutes ago
Apartments planned for shuttered stores at Pasco’s Gulf View Square mall

Apartments planned for shuttered stores at Pasco’s Gulf View Square mall

PORT RICHEY — The new owner of two shuttered department stores at Gulf View Square mall wants to demolish the former retail outlets and replace them with nearly 400 apartments.The complex, called Gables at Gulf View, would be on the west side of the ...
Updated: 4 minutes ago
Big visitor calls at Port Tampa Bay

Big visitor calls at Port Tampa Bay

TAMPA — The 750-foot-long Ireland, one of the biggest ships ever to call at Port Tampa Bay, arrived Sunday.The Ireland is on its maiden voyage, having left a shipyard in China for a stop in the Yucatan peninsula to pick up a load of limestone for del...
Updated: 1 hour ago
It’s a boy! Kate Middleton gives birth to third royal baby

It’s a boy! Kate Middleton gives birth to third royal baby

LONDON — For Kate, the wait is over. The Duchess of Cambridge gave birth Monday to a healthy baby boy — a third child for Kate and Prince William and fifth in line to the British throne.The couple’s Kensington Palace office announced news of the birt...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Harley-Davidson is offering a dream internship to eight college students

Harley-Davidson is offering a dream internship to eight college students

Picture it: Hitting the open road on your hog, speaking with interesting people, witnessing beautiful places and sharing the whole thing on Instagram while getting college credit.Harley-Davidson has announced its seeking eight interns for a 12-week p...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Rays win on Carlos Gomez’s walkoff home run

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Rays win on Carlos Gomez’s walkoff home run

Carlos Gomez, who had been struggling, delivers a two-run, walkoff home run as the Rays sweep the Twins for the first time at Tropicana Field. Rick Stroud discusses the moment and the celebration that followed Gomez's first career walkoff hit in toda...
Updated: 2 hours ago
How Deon Cain went from lifelong quarterback to NFL-bound receiver

How Deon Cain went from lifelong quarterback to NFL-bound receiver

TAMPA — Ricky Sailor thought his colleague had lost his mind.Sailor's Unsigned Preps 7-on-7 team had one of the area's most promising young quarterbacks, Deon Cain. So why would one of his coaches, Carlos Blake, want to risk injury and burn bri...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Can New Tampa handle nearly 700 more homes? Not without major changes, council member says

Can New Tampa handle nearly 700 more homes? Not without major changes, council member says

TAMPA — New Tampa was built on sprawl. Big houses, often in gated communities with lots of green space, are the operating principle for developing the area Tampa annexed in pieces starting in the mid 1980s.But residents who love the good schools and ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Scattered showers, thunderstorms kick off muggy week across Tampa Bay

Scattered showers, thunderstorms kick off muggy week across Tampa Bay

A large, disturbed weather system could drop thunderstorms and scattered showers across Tampa Bay. This is the same system that has caused water spouts and tornadoes to touch down around the Fort Walton Beach area in the Florida panhandle.This storm...
Updated: 4 hours ago