Esperance creation of Les Miserables musical provides new daily life to town’s theatre scene

Caitlyn Edwards flicks by a glossy booklet, landing on a web page displaying the many faces who aided bring her desire to daily life. 

It has been just around six months given that a region theatre on the south coast of Western Australia performed host to a person of the most famous musicals on earth.

The Esperance generation of Les Miserables – a mainstay of London’s West Conclusion for practically 4 decades – is remaining remembered as the most ambitious and advanced theatre challenge in the town’s heritage.


But, underneath the route of Ms Edwards, the neighborhood banded alongside one another to guarantee its achievements.

“It gave us a enormous injection of fresh faces to the theatre,” she explained.

Thanks to the Les Miserables creation — or “Les Mis”, as it is affectionately identified — the Esperance theatre scene has never been much healthier.

Caitlyn Edwards adores the Les Mis story, tunes and characters.(ABC Esperance: Hayden Smith)

‘Stood the test of time’

Ms Edwards was introduced to Les Mis through the 2012 film adaption starring Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe.

She fell in adore with the story, its legendary tracks and numerous, “relatable” figures.

It was not lengthy right before she observed the musical and examine the mammoth, 530,000-term novel by Victor Hugo, posted in 1862.

She even embarked on an creative venture that included portray a scene from the novel for just about every working day of the thirty day period. 

Established in early 19th century Paris, Les Mis follows the story of Jean Valjean — a French peasant unveiled from prison in a time of revolution — and is a tale of injustice, love, struggling and hope.

A thick yellow book with the words Les Miserables and Victor Hugo in black, and picture of a girl with a broom.

Victor Hugo’s epic novel was released in 1862.(ABC Esperance: Hayden Smith)

“No make a difference what form of temper you’re in, you will find a thing to relate to,” Ms Edwards stated.

1 day while backstage at Esperance’s historic Bijou Theatre — the oldest reason-designed theatre in WA — fellow thespian Derek Clarke knowledgeable her that the legal rights to Les Mis were obtainable to be procured.

Her interest was piqued, but the obstacle would be the audio, with the Bijou too tiny to accommodate an orchestra pit. 

Thankfully, the Esperance Theatre Guild was ready to attain experienced recordings of the Les Mis rating, which were a “full match changer” for the task.

The exterior of a local theatre painted in white a pale blue, with a sign saying Bijou Theatre.

The Bijou Theatre in Esperance has a extended and very pleased record.(ABC News: Hayden Smith)

An information night held early previous 12 months instructed local community desire in the production would be powerful.

“I thought maybe four people today would come [the the meeting], and it was actually shocking to see the auditorium fifty percent entire,” Ms Edwards said.

“Because Les Mis has been all around for so long, so a lot of people have reminiscences associated with it.”

A neighborhood effort

A usual play held at the Bijou Theatre could possibly entail a total forged and crew of 20-30 folks.

The 2023 Les Mis generation experienced a cast of additional than 70, and a crew of about 30.

About fifty percent of the cast have been under the age of 18.

Ms Edwards claimed one particular of her aims was to make place for younger people today to get included.

“I desired to have avenue urchins, I needed to make confident that kids that preferred to be on stage had the probability to be on phase,” she reported.

A group of young people dressed in waist coats and white shirts, on stage surrounded by wood boxes.

About 100 folks had been included in the Esperance creation.(Provided: Esperance Theatre Guild)

Thanks to a grant from the Mt Burdett Foundation, an organisation investing in tips that develop a vivid and resilient rural and regional Western Australia, the theatre was in a position to employ a experienced fight choreographer/intimacy coach and an expert vocal professional from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts.

“It was very noticeable by the time we went stay that it had produced these kinds of a change to in which we ended up at the commence,” Ms Edwards reported. 

The foundation’s Esperance Group Advisory Committee chair, Megan McDowall, said the Les Mis job was an perfect funding recipient.

“We just like to support individuals who are passionate about the community and also have the potential to produce,” she said. 

Just after months of late evenings and rehearsal right after rehearsal, it was abruptly August and time to execute right before an audience.

It quickly grew to become very clear they had designed some thing specific. 

“The 7 days in advance of we open, anybody with a pensioners card can come and check out for a gold coin donation,” Ms Edwards mentioned.

“We bought a standing ovation, and that experienced in no way took place to me on phase, or in any demonstrate I have been a component of just before.”

Brilliant long run for historic theatre

Barry Wroth beams with delight as he casts his eyes more than the dimly-lit auditorium.

He has attended community productions for a long time, and is at present president of the Esperance Theatre Guild. 

The eager actor and director mentioned Les Mis was like very little the city had seen before.

“It was certainly the most formidable undertaking that any small theatre team could place on,” he mentioned.

“You’d walk down the avenue and the entire town was abuzz.”

Photo of a man in a theatre seat

Barry Wroth suggests curiosity in Esperance nearby theatre has soared.(ABC Esperance: Hayden Smith)

He mentioned participation had not only soared since the generation, but the domestically owned theatre’s funds had been presented a substantially-needed boost.

“For the to start with time in record, all the tickets ended up offered out a 7 days right before opening,” Mr Wroth claimed.

“It was sensational.”

Next 12 months will mark 40 several years considering the fact that the Les Miserables musical debuted in London.

It remains one particular of the city’s most in-demand demonstrates, with Australian performer Josh Piterman at this time starring as Jean Valjean in a production at the Sondheim Theatre. 

Actors on stage dressed singing

Caitlyn Edwards claims people resonate with the information of hope in Les Miserables.(Supplied: Esperance Theatre Guild)

Ms Edwards said the tale would keep on to resonate with audiences around the globe for a lot of a long time to occur. 

“It is whole of universal themes,” she mentioned.

“And so it can be something that has actually stood the check of time.”

She has currently turned her interest to other imaginative jobs primarily based on Victor Hugo’s masterpiece. 

“It truly is a love story, but not essentially in the intimate feeling, and it is really a story about hope,” she claimed.

“And I believe people today truly connect with that require for hope.” 

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