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Bryan Lee and Kelsey Wenner, above, are innkeepers who are ready to take advantage of anyone and everyone in Les Misérables. They provide a bit of comic relief in the dark production.

The singing miserable ones

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The singing miserable ones
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Musicals are good and fun, "but it's nice to tackle a show we can sink our teeth into, something with such meaning," Kathy Larson said.

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That's just what Detroit Lakes students are doing this fall with Les Misérables.

The producer/director said she chose the musical because she "fell in love with the music," but on the other hand, she was back and forth on doing the musical more than she ever has been.

"You (the cast) have to be so deep in talent," Assistant Director Mark Everson agreed. "I'm astounded at how they sound."

He added that he thinks the casts become closer during darker performances like Les Miz -- as it's often referred to as -- because they have to tap into their more vulnerable side.

Tapping into their vulnerable, darker side, the cast of 69 students -- plus more behind the scenes -- has had a bit of a challenge with this musical.

"It's different because it's completely sung through," Larson said. In other words, there is no dialogue.

"The dialogue is in the lyrics," Everson added.

The one challenge has been "to not make it a concert," Larson said.

Les Misérables writer Victor Hugo was a hero to the poor people. He witnessed a man being arrested for stealing a piece of bread and a woman getting out of her ornate carriage, not even noticing the man.

"There was complete disconnection from the haves and the have-nots," Larson explained.

"It's not about what you have, it's who you love," Mark Everson said.

Hugo took 16 years to write his novel Les Misérables, completing it in 1861. When printed in 1862, it was largely sought after, causing long lines and traffic jams as people bought the 48,000 copies the first day of the sale.

Producer Cameron Mackintosh brought Les Misérables to the stage in 1985.

It has been performed in 30 countries.

"It's not available for adults. It went right from professional to high school," Larson said of the rights. "The only thing that changed is the length.

"They cut out verses here and there that aren't central to the story. It's a very powerful, entertaining story," she said.

So powerful, Larson and Everson agreed, a favorite line of all time comes from the production: "To love another person is to see the face of God."

"It's very serious subject matter, but it's based on fact," she said.

Les Misérables became the second longest running production on Broadway when it closed in May 2003 after 6,680 performances.

Les Misérables focuses on the story of the ex-convict Jean Valjean, who is imprisoned for stealing bread for his starving family. Rejected, Valjean sleeps on the street and befriends Bishop Myriel, who takes him in and gives him shelter.

After years of more run-ins with the law, Valjean, now named Monsieur Madeleine to avoid capture, becomes a wealthy factory owner and mayor of the town. Valjean meets Fantine, who has a young daughter, Cosette, and is slowly dying from an unnamed disease.

The town's police inspector, Javert, has learned Valjean's identity, but another man, mistakenly accused of being Valjean, is put on trial. To save the man, Valjean turns himself in and is sent to jail. During his incarceration, Valjean fakes his death and escapes.

Years later, Valjean and Cosette and other students are involved in a revolution. The students revolt and erect barricades in the streets of Paris.

Filled with fighting and love, Les Misérables takes a look at class order, standing up for what you believe and finding those you love.

The musical performances are Oct. 30, Nov. 1-2 and 6-8 at 7:30 p.m. each night except for the Sunday, Nov. 2, performance, which is a 3 p.m. matinee. Tickets are $8 for adults or $6 for students with a student ID and are available at Central Market.

Cast

Jean Valjean: Bryce Dutton

Inspector Javert: Peter Johnson

Fantine:Sydney Henderson

Thenardier: Bryan Lee

Madame Thenardier: Kelsey Wenner

Young Cosette: Megan Lysford

Gavroche: Caleb Howard

Enjolras: Steven Labine

Marius: Alex Renner

Eponine: Andrea Williams

Cosette: Paige Johnson

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