The performance dates of the musical Les Misérables (Les Mis) were originally set to be on March 26, 27, and 28, but due Andover’s implementation of virtual learning for the entirety of spring term in response to COVID-19, the cast will not be able to perform the musical. According to Abbey Siegfried, Instructor in Musical Theater & Dance and the Music Director for Les Mis, the show would have been an unforgettable one.
“The show was in such great shape. It was destined to be one of the best productions we have ever had at Andover. The singers were absolutely incredible, the combination of them and the orchestra was stunning, and the staging and creative vision Ms. Strong helped the cast create was amazing,” said Dr. Siegfried.
According to the lead, Henry Crater ’20, who plays Jean Valjean, Les Mis is about love and hope being present amidst the “roughest and darkest of times.” Crater also explained how the show spans 30 years, centering around Valjean’s journey to find redemption as an ex-convict and how he changes other people’s lives. As such, being notified of the show’s cancellation felt like a great loss to Crater.
“I was devastated. I was angry. I felt like it was not fair; it felt like my senior year was being taunted with this big, special thing, and it was getting ripped away from me all of a sudden,” said Crater.
According to Celeste Robinson ’22, who was a featured ensemble cast member, the cast started working on the show before Thanksgiving break. A core group of the cast would meet every sixth period class to rehearse, learn music, and stage the show, as well as rehearsing on Wednesday nights and occasionally on Saturday and Sunday. The first week of spring term was originally planned to be Tech Week, with rehearsals every day leading up to the performance weekend.
Chloe Webster ’20, who plays Cosette, reflected on what the show meant to her and how she feels about its cancellation.
“Of course I was disappointed, especially because I’m a senior this year and the musical theatre community has been super meaningful for me—I’ve been in the musical all four years, and the people in those productions have come to be my family. I was disappointed, not only that we weren’t able to show our work, but also that we weren’t going to be able to come together and consummate all of our hard work,” said Webster.
According to Siegfried, however, she, along with Erin Strong, Instructor in Theater and Dance and the Director for Les Mis, the Office of Technology, and the cast, have been working on adapting to these changes by creating videos to virtually share a few excerpts of the show.
Additionally, Siegfried shared that she and Strong have been writing the cast emails during what would have been Tech Week, as well as holding a Zoom call on what would have been opening night with over 45 people, which includes the entire cast and stage managers. She emphasized the importance of these interactions, to tell the cast that what they had all achieved was amazing, regardless of not being able to perform.
“Whether we get to perform the show or not does not negate the incredible experience we had of coming together and learning about how to tell this story together. The cast is filled with the most amazing people I know, and working with Ms. Strong and them has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Nothing takes that away,” said Dr. Siegfried.