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Jessie Kuzmicki, who plays Fantine, rehearses for the production of "Les Miserables," April 2 at 7 p.m. in the MAUHS auditorium. (Peter Crabtree)
Thursday March 28, 2013

BENNINGTON -- The barricade boys are back in town for a special one night only production of "Les Misérables" (pronounced lay-MEE-zay-RAHBL) in concert performed by MAUHS and Cedar Gove High School students Tuesday, April 2, at 7 p.m.

The idea for the show, originally adapted from the Victor Hugo novel of the same name, came when MAU choral director Lynn Sweet and her best friend, Jennifer Foose the choral director at Cedar Grove High School in Cedar Grove, N.J. decided to do a collaborative show between the schools two years ago, celebrating the music of Carole King and James Taylor.

The performance, which will feature more than 150 singers, is a complete production of the musical sans large sets and many outfits, though the main characters will be costumed.

"We're not blocking it, we're not using big sets, but we're singing it through start to finish. The characters are interacting some, but it's more directed out to the audience," Sweet said.

MAU students will make up the majority of the cast for the show, but Cedar Grove students will fill in some of minor roles. The reverse will be true when the show is performed in New Jersey on April 6 and 7.

"It's a big show to put together in a short period of time, but the kids are doing great. They love it, too. They love this music," Sweet said.

Both shows will be accompanied by a student orchestra.

Cedar Grove will send over about 40 students to flesh out the chorus at MAU and MAU will send the same number of students to Cedar Grove.


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"These exchanges are wonderful for our students," Sweet said. "but they are equally wonderful for us because it gives us an opportunity to work together on projects like these."

When MAU travels to Cedar Grove the students will spend the day following the performace in New York City and attending the Broadway show, "Nice Work If You Can Get It."

"Les Misérables," takes place pre-June Rebellion, the second of three rebellions in the formation of the modern French government. The musical is filled with many dark and complicated themes, such as politics, death, violence and love.

"We've had a lot of discussion about the subject matter, the universal themes of poverty and revolution and lost love (and) justice that the kids have really jumped onto and loved discussing," Sweet said.

MAU sophomore Jessie Kuzmicki plays Fantine, a young mother portrayed by Anne Hathaway in the recent movie version of "Les Misérables."

"(Fantine) is supposed to be a little bit older (than me) but with an illegitimate child and working very hard to try keep her child supported. It's been a little bit challenging especially because I have to sing ‘I Dreamed a Dream' but it's been a good learning experience."

Kuzmicki had been aware of the history surrounding the period when the show takes place thanks to her history class.

"We learned about this in history a couple months ago and so I know all of this stuff. So I'm familiar with the background of the story and the history of the revolution," she said.

Tickets are on sale now for $6 through the MAUHS office and are expected to sell out.

Andrew Roiter is the arts editor for the Bennington Banner. He can be reached at aroiter@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter at banner_arts.