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Students commended on Les Miz performance

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I recently had the privilege of attending the Detroit Lakes Schools' production of Les Miserables not one, but three times.

This fact alone should give you some indication of how highly I think of this particular musical, which has been my favorite since I first saw it performed by the Trollwood School of Performing Arts a few years ago. However, it's not just Les Misérables itself, but the way in which the students portrayed it, that brought me back for a second and third round.

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I was originally skeptical that a group of school-age children and teenagers could do justice to what I believe is the single greatest musical ever written. Based on previous DL musicals I had witnessed, I had no reason to doubt that they would, but it seemed implausible to me that the heavy themes of redemption, revolution and man's role in society that comprise Les Misérables could be fully addressed in a high school production.

True, I had never been disappointed by a DL musical before, but it seemed to me that the committee in charge of choosing each year's show was treading on sacred ground by selecting Les Misérables.

With these thoughts circulating through my head I attended the matinee showing of Les Misérables. As I strolled through the masses, on a mission to find my elusive row, it occurred to me that never before had I seen a DL musical and actually known the vast majority of the cast members, like I did that day.

As I found my row and then began the walk towards my assigned seat, I further realized how much of a difference it would make in my perception of the show to actually know who the various characters were in real life. I even knew the person in charge of the fog-machine!

As the lights dimmed, the auditorium filled with an aura of anticipation which grew more palatable by the moment and climaxed with the opening notes of the "Work Song."

The number ended and the characters, along with my skepticism, vanished into a haze. I was officially impressed. Each passing song brought me a little further into an alternate world; one in which even the most mundane aspects of everyday life are romanticized into stirring drama.

I felt a strong desire to join the Revolution, which was slowly unfolding before me. During one particularly inspiring fighting scene, I had to fight the temptation to run up onto the stage and personally battle the enemy that lay just beyond the barricade. But when all the Revolutionaries died a few minutes later, I was glad I had restrained myself.

During the most intense part of the Les Misérables experience, when people were dying left and right and lovers were being parted, a young boy (who in reality happens to be my brother's best friend) suddenly appeared on the stage and added much-needed humor to the otherwise dismal situation by rattling off a song called "Little People," in which he attempts to convince his comrades, who were all at least twice as tall as him, that small people are capable of doing big things.

I found this number somewhat ironic, as everyone in the performance was high-school age or younger, and, though not necessarily small height-wise, would be considered by most standards to be "little people" in terms of age. This song instilled in me a renewed belief that young people are capable of greatness, and caused me to realize that the high school's performance of Les Misérables was the perfect testimony to that fact.

Thank you to the directors, costume sewers, prop builders and managers, lighting and sound technicians, and numerous remarkably talented cast members who came together and succeeded in their common goal of doing justice to what is perhaps the greatest musical ever written: Les Misérables.

Nathan Kitzmann is a sophomore at Detroit Lakes High School.

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