Portales High students taking on ‘Les Miserables’

By Clarence Plank: PNT staff writer

Portales High School students present Les Miserables this weekend at the PHS Performing Arts Center.

“It is very difficult,” said William Strong, PHS dramatic arts teacher. “The music is hard. It is basically an operetta, with maybe three lines that are actually spoken. Everything is done with music and it never stops.”

Les Miserables is set in 19th century France. The play centers around the life Jean Valjean from his imprisonment for 19 years for stealing bread to his seeking to become an honest man and realizing his spiritual need.

“For some reason this one is a little tougher,” Strong said. “The music is harder, darker and there’s no fun places in the story. It’s stretching the students talents and that’s what theater education is supposed to do.”

Strong said the play was meant to be done on a rotating stage so stage hands can set up the next scene while another scene is being played on stage.

One thing they have been working on is focusing the spotlight on one area of the stage where a student is performing, while stage hands work in the background to set up the next scene as quietly as possible, said Strong.

David Clarkson, 17, is playing Marius, who is in love with Valjean’s adopted daughter Cosette. Clarkson said it has been fun working on the play and will be helping to set up a couple of the scenes.

“I will help when they need me, but most of the time I’m going to try and stay out of the way,” Clarkson said.

Kew Mason, 17, saw the musical Les Miserables when she was younger.

“I’ve wanted to do this play for a really long time,” Mason said. “This is one of my favorite musicals. I got to see it when I was 7 years-old and fell in love with it. It is very sad, but dazzling musical.”

Les Miserables is rated PG for violence, thematics and some language.