One of the toughest challenges about producing live theater in Central Oregon is that right when an actor feels like he or she is in that sweet spot—where all the moving parts are perfectly in sync—there are probably only one or two shows left in the run. With a limited number of patrons to fill seats, most plays here rehearse for six weeks, and only run for three.
But not the case with the upcoming run of Les Miserables at the Tower Theatre, which is smartly being given a long gestation period by the producer and director—a whopping nine months of planning, rehearsing and strategizing.
"This has been a long process," says Brad Ruder, assistant director of Les Miz. "The project started in September of 2012. We met and started talking realistically about it in January of 2013." He adds, "We started rehearsals in January of this year."
Les Miserables is the caliber of show that deserves this amount of time and attention before putting it in front of an audience. It is the world's longest running musical and has been translated into 22 languages, performed in 42 countries and seen by over 60 million people worldwide.
Les Miz has a cast of 35 ranging from seasoned vets to first time actors. One of those newbies includes Rob Flanagan, a Bendite since 2005.
"I'm playing the Foreman and Bamatabois," he says. "Both have songs with Fantine and both pretty much abuse the hell out of her. I'm hoping it wasn't type casting," jokes Flanagan. "This kind, lovely woman Mollie Tennant is playing Fantine and it is tough being so physically violent and downright evil to her."
This fresh talent is a promising mixture with local theater veterans, like OperaBend co-founder Jason Stein, who is turning up as Jean Valjean, and Don Delach as Thenardier. In addition, vocal direction has been provided from OperaBend, and a full orchestra conducted by Central Oregon Symphony Maestro Michael Gesme, and choreography under the direction of Gotta Dance owner/operator Michelle Mejaski.
Tickets are currently available for shows in September.
The Tower Theatre, 835 NW Wall St.
Tickets available at Towertheatre.org