February 2018

Les Misérables: Passion, Redemption, and Revolution Take to the Hilton Head Prep Stage

Author: Kitty Bartell | Photographer: The French Guy Photography

With 65 film versions and over 53,000 stage performances in 44 countries and 349 cities, the musical/opera Les Misérables is likely the most frequently adapted novel of all time. First published in 1862, Victor Hugo’s captivating novel is a tale of nineteenth century France, of passion, and redemption, and revolution. With the development of a slightly abridged, PG13, school edition, Hilton Head Prep, and director Peggy Trecker White, are bringing their depiction of Les Misérables to the Hilton Head Preparatory School Main Street Theatre stage February 21-25.

Auditions were held in the fall, and under the guidance of music director Lauren Stuligross, co-principal with Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra, students have been learning the music and preparing their roles. “Lauren is a rock star,” Trecker White said. “She is tasked with teaching the kids the music, which is cyclical in a way that audiences love and devour.” Music and lyrics for the production are by Claude-Michel Schönberg, Herbert Kretzmer, and Alain Boublil.

Current head of performing arts at HH Prep, Ian McCabe reached out to Trecker White, a former Prep performing arts director, when they were seeking freelance directors for their productions. “Ian recommended me,” she said. “I had a wonderful time doing Almost Maine [HH Prep’s November production], and said yes, when asked if I was interested in directing Les Misérables.”

Casting for Les Misérables took an interesting turn when Trecker White had an abundance of passionate, talented, student actors auditioning for roles. Whether more experienced or better prepared, the answer to this fortunate dilemma was to double-cast several of the roles. “I like to make dreams come true,” she said. “Seniors Kacy Jones, Caylin Campis, and Shannon Hegarty are trustworthy with the material, and they’ve been doing theater the entire time they’ve been in school.” Over the course of the six performances, the roles will be shared as follows: Fantine by Campis and Wojcikiewicz; Eponine by Jones and Campis; Madame Thenardier by Stratton and Jones. Throughout the production, the role of Jean Valjean will be played by Keegan Crotty, Thenardier will be played by Luke Herman, Javert will be played by Trey Middleton, Marius will be played by Justin Stone, and Enjolras will be played by Frank Milbourn.

With two acts, 12 roles, and a large ensemble cast, this sung-through piece has drawn interest from students, teachers, and parents. “One of the great things about this production is that we do have a lot of teachers who have enlisted to be in the show,” Trecker White said. “Peg Hamilton [upper school English teacher] lives and breathes theater. She always wants to be involved, and she’ll be in this one. I had a parent whose wife and daughter are in the show ask if he could join in. It’s his favorite show. I said, yes, please. It’s parents, it’s teachers, it’s the entire school in terms of students—lower, middle, and upper schools.”

Trecker White brings her acting, directing, production, and teaching experience from around the world. Most recently she staged an opera in Verona, Italy. “Opera is like water to Italians,” she said. “It went really well.” An impressive production, Les Misérables requires a great deal of attention to detail, as well. “In terms of staging, as long as I’m organized and know before I walk into the room what I want for them [the actors], it will be fine. That’s what I did with 50 Italians in Italy. That opera had 14 soloists with 50 people in the chorus.” Trecker White provides inspiration, along with boots-on-the-stage experience to her cast and crew. In addition to her acting résumé, most recently garnering raves for her one-woman portrayal of Katharine Hepburn in Tea at Five, with Lean Ensemble, she is a veteran instructor, spending her summers at Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan, and working privately with young people pursuing careers in the performing arts.

“I’m a big believer in training and learning technique, and that technique gives you freedom,” she said. As a freelance artist and director, as well as doing her time on the HH Prep staff, Trecker White has been a part of nurturing students’ artistic aspirations. “Ava Nixon graduated last year; she’s a theater major at Clemson. She was cast in the university’s first production of the year, Godspell, and there were only 10 cast members. This semester, she is part of a five-person play. She’s doing great,” she said. “Kate Herman graduated two years ago. She is at Miami University in Ohio. The spring semester of her freshman year, she was cast for the fall play that only had three cast members, two men and one woman, and she got it. I was so proud of her.”

Current HH Prep middle school student Trey Middleton, sharing the Les Misérables role of Javert, is successfully navigating a professional career in the theater, as well. “He did a national tour of Matilde. Once he left the tour, they asked him to join the Broadway cast. He also toured in a production of Elf, playing the son. When they were in New York, they played at Madison Square Garden,” Trecker White said. Middleton’s younger brother, Sammy, will be playing Gavroche in Les Misérables, with another Middleton brother, Calvin, acting as his understudy, as well as being a part of the ensemble.

With the blending of inspired and talented students, faculty, parents, production, and directing teams, the Hilton Head Preparatory School’s performing arts department is rehearsing and refining another thrilling production. Les Misérables is providing cast and crew with a script and a score to test their creative mettle, and an opportunity to bring passion, redemption, and revolution to the Main Street Theatre stage. Break a leg.

Hilton Head Preparatory School Main Street Theatre is located at 3000 Main Street, Hilton Head Island. Tickets can be purchased at hhprep.org or at the door. Show times are Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, February 21-24 at 7:30 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday, February 24 and 25 at 2 p.m.

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