In an announcement on Tuesday afternoon, Cornelia Laemmli Orth , who serves as SOTM’s music director, conductor and chief operating officer, described “Les Mis” as “an enormous, beautiful, epic musical, which happens to be my favorite.”
“It’s the greatest musical theater piece of all time,” said Richard Rose, Barter’s producing artistic director.
“Les Mis” opened at Barter Theatre in May. For this collaboration, which will be held at 7:30 p.m., Aug. 16-17, at the Toy F. Reid Employee Center, Eastman Chemical Company, Wilcox Drive, the staging will be simplified to accommodate the larger orchestra, with just enough production elements — like props and costumes — to tell the story clearly. Audiences who want to see Barter’s fully staged production should make reservations before it closes on Aug. 11.
Barter does not have room to host a full orchestra, and productions at the main stage feature a six-piece orchestra in the pit. The Kingsport performances will emphasize the music and the orchestra, Rose said.
“With the Symphony of the Mountains, the emphasis here is obviously on the music and it’s more of a concert hall than a theater,” he said. “We’re bringing the props and costumes, but not the set. It won’t take anything away, but it changes the emphasis. Each evening will be unique unto itself. This music is some of the most beautiful music on Earth.”
“Les Mis” is set in early 19th-century France and opens with Jean Valjean (Pat McRoberts) serving 19 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread to save his sister’s starving child. When he breaks parole, prison guard Javert (Rick McVey) vows to pursue him. Eventually, Valjean turns from a life of crime to one of grace and forgiveness.
All songs will be included in the Barter/SOTM production, including “I Dreamed a Dream,” “On My Own,” “Who Am I?” and “One Day More.”
For Orth and the SOTM, “Les Mis” is a chance to do something different.
“It’s as close to an opera as it gets,” she said. “It’s all through music. ... It’s very powerful music. This is something different and also to get to work with Barter-caliber actors is amazing.”
Barter and the symphony will host two events associated with the production — a cocktail reception at the Toy F. Reid Center following the Aug. 16 performance, and a dinner with key “Les Mis” cast members and musicians beginning with cocktails at 4:30 p.m., Aug. 17, at MeadowView Conference Resort and Convention Center.
“See both. See it here and see it at Barter,” Rose said. “It will be an enhanced experience that will be memorable.”
Tickets for the performances are $40 for each night. Tickets for the cocktail reception on Aug. 16 are $15. Tickets for the dinner prior to the Aug. 17 performance are $40.
For tickets or more information, visit www.SymphonyoftheMountains.org, or call 392-8423. For behind-the-scenes information and an introduction to the cast and collaborators, visit www.BarterDoesLesMis.com.