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One day more – ‘Les Misérables’ returns to Oakland County

Steve Martin rehearses his role as Jean Valjean for last summer's production of "Les Miserables."
Steve Martin rehearses his role as Jean Valjean for last summer's production of "Les Miserables."
Courtesy of Spiro Productions

Among our favorite productions of “Les Misérables” is the one produced locally last summer by Spiro Productions, in partnership with The Other Mirror, and staged at Meadow Brook Theatre. We were therefore delighted, if a bit surprised, to hear that they are getting the band back together, so to speak, for a special one-night show at the Avondale Performing Arts Center on June 21st at 7:30 p.m. After a sold out run at Meadow Brook Theatre last summer, this evening will feature the original cast and director, Katherine M. Carter, with Music Direction by Mark Dupere, who is currently completing his Doctorate at Michigan State University,

Ms. Carter is the award-winning director and Artistic Director of The Other Mirror (in New York City), who returns to Michigan for this single show. She and producer Justin Spiro graciously agreed to answer a few of our questions about the upcoming one-day production of Les Misérables.”

Q. Seriously, what prompted the one-day production of this big show?

JUSTIN: This year’s show is meant to be celebratory, in a sense. Our run last year was completely sold out, and we often heard requests to extend the run from people who had missed it. It was not plausible at the time, but this gives us a chance to reach a new audience and reengage with our old one as well. I see this performance like I see a wedding, or a Bat Mitzvah. It is intended to be a special, one-night only event that we do not wish to duplicate.

Q. Did you have to rework last year’s staging to fit the Avondale Theatre?

KATHERINE: The entire show is reworked because we have a full orchestra on stage for this special performance! Brian Kessler, the set designer, created a set that is inspired by last year’s production but slightly different to match our needs for this production. I’ve kept the shape of last years production with the favorite staging moments, and married it with the concert vibe we’ve created by putting the orchestra on stage. We are calling it a production-concert hybrid.

Q. Sounds fun. Are you able to secure the same principals in the cast? Any significant changes?

KATHERINE: Justin and I were both passionate that the majority of the cast be the same as last year’s. We are missing two original principals, Marius and Cosette, whom we have replaced with two wonderful additions. Blake Gronlund, who is the twin of last years Marius, and Alyssa Giannetti, who stood out when she auditioned last year but could not join the cast because of college finals. These two have blended into our cast seamlessly – it’s been a joy working with them.

Q. Are you still finding new things in Les Miserable with successive productions?

KATHERINE: Of course! I was just having this conversation with Steve Martin (Jean Valjean) and Zachary Niedzwiecki (Javert). We were exploring what moments we wanted to adjust from last year and what emotional colors we could bring to the table this time through. The best thing about theatre is that every time you approach a show, no matter how many times, there are always new things to explore, the show’s meaning changes as we gain new personal experiences. Audiences continue to come back to “Les Miserables “ because it’s a powerful story of love and redemption, not to mention a score that stays with you for days.

Q. What should we look for? To you have a favorite moment in the show?

KATHERINE: Ohhh that is a tough one. My favorite moment changes daily. For this special event I am looking forward to everything coming together: the design team is spectacular, the on stage orchestra, and our larger company. It’s going to be a night not to be missed.

JUSTIN: I think the audience can expect a more impactful sounding show than last year. Our orchestra is nearly double the size, and we are bringing them to the stage. There is a greater emphasis on the music with this production. Blending a large orchestra with a large cast can be a challenge, which inspired us to hire Tony Award winner Clive Goodwin as our sound designer. We know he is up to the task of putting the pieces together to make this show sound incredible for our audience.

Make a memory this weekend. This young cast, featuring Steve Martin (Jean Valjean), Zachary Niedzwiecki (Javert), Kryssy Becker (Fantine), Alyssa Giannetti (Cosette), Rita Liegl (Madame Thénardier), Mitch Master (Thénardier), Natalie Sparbeck (Eponine), Dave Roy (Enjolras), Blake Gronlund (Marius) Ed Guay (Bishop), Cameron Tait (Gavroche), and Dani DeMello-Johnson (Young Cosette), and Grace Maurer (Young Eponine), will blow you away.

The curtain goes up at 7:30 p.m. on June 21 at The Avondale Performing Arts Center at 2800 Waukeegan in Auburn Hills. Tickets are $25 and $20 available online or via phone at 866-811-4111. Telephone hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday.

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