Powerhouses Barter Theatre and Symphony of the Mountains join forces once again for the most beloved musical of all time.
The big buzz this summer has been about Barter Theatre producing “Les Misérables,” arguably the best musical of all time. Now, the already epic show will grow to larger-than-life proportions when Barter artists join The Symphony of the Mountains on one stage for two nights only. The Barter/Symphony collaboration will take place at the Toy F. Reid Eastman Employee Center in Kingsport, tonight and Saturday night at 7:30.
This is a very rare chance to hear all the gorgeous and powerful songs of “Les Mis” backed by a full, professional orchestra. Thousands upon thousands of people have seen “Les Misérables” this past year through the movie release last winter or the many regional theatre productions. It’s officially the world’s longest running musical, and “Les Mis” has been seen by more than 65 million people in 42 countries. But how many have seen it with a full symphony orchestra? Not many.
Although the story, based on Victor Hugo’s novel, is compelling, the music is the first thing that comes to mind at the mention of “Les Mis.” Alain Boubill and Claude Michel Schonberg have arguably written the best music for a theatrical production of all time. It has even made its way into pop culture with references on “Seinfeld,” “South Park” and more recently, “Homeland.” After the movie was released, even “Saturday Night Live” got in on the action with a spoof of “One Day More” with host Anne Hathaway.
“Playing Javert in ‘Les Mis’ has been one of the most thrilling and fulfilling roles I’ve ever done,” said actor Rick McVey. “To be able to do it with this fantastic cast and crew is undeniably one of the highlights of my career, and to perform with a full symphony orchestra is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
For two nights only, residents of the Mountain Empire can hear the music of “Les Mis” the way it was intended and backed by the professional musicians of Symphony of the Mountains.
The orchestra pit at Barter Theatre is only large enough to hold six musicians, and that was a tight fit. The Toy F. Reid Center can hold the 30 Barter Theatre actors and a full orchestra.
Barter Theatre and Symphony of the Mountains are two of the longest-running performing arts organizations in the region. Barter is celebrating 80 years and the Symphony is celebrating 65. It makes perfect sense to collaborate when opportunity allows. Barter first partnered with The Symphony in 2011 with “Cabaret” and the outpouring of support was exciting for both organizations.
Audiences loved “Cabaret,” but will be even more blown away by “Les Mis.” The difference between performing “Cabaret” and “Les Mis” is the scope of the project. “Cabaret” is meant to be more intimate with a smaller cast, but “Les Mis” is truly epic, and the entire story is told through the lyrics and music, instead of having breaks for dialogue.
Symphony conductor Cornelia Laemmli Orth and the musicians really have their job cut out for them. Most musicals allow for musicians to rest during dialogue. Since “Les Mis” is more of an opera than traditional music theater, every word is sung. The characters in the show take turns singing solo or with groups, but the conductor and the musicians are performing in every single number for the entire play.
“I am very excited about this collaboration,” said Laemmli Orth. “Yes, it is a long time for me to have my arms up without a break, but I am sure I won’t even feel it. This music is so incredibly beautiful and passionate, that it makes us forget everything else.”
Tickets may also be available for a reception following the concert on Friday night and a special reception and dinner with Barter Producing Artistic Director Richard Rose, Laemmli Orth and the Barter cast and Symphony musicians on Saturday evening prior to the concert.
Show tickets are $40. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact the Symphony of the Mountains office at 392-8423 or visit http://SymphonyOfTheMountains.org.