High school students from across Elgin Area School District U-46 came together this summer to participate in the Summer Theatre production of "Les Miserables: School Edition."
The musical opens at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 19, at the Larkin High School auditorium, 1475 Larkin Ave. Performances will continue through the weekend at 7 p.m. July 19-21, with a matinee performance at noon Saturday, July 21. Tickets are $10 at the door.
South Elgin High School graduate David Larsen will be performing the role of protagonist Jean Valjean. Larsen was nominated for the Illinois High School Music Theatre Awards' best actor award for his performance as Quasimodo in the 2018 spring musical "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." Larsen will be attending Western Illinois University in the fall to study music education.
Bartlett High School rising senior Naomi Latta will be performing as Éponine, and South Elgin High School 's Andrea Michel, also going into her senior year, will be a member of the ensemble. Both were selected for the cast of the upcoming 2019 Illinois High School Theatre Festival All-State production of "In the Heights" during the Theatre Festival in January 2019 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Many of the actors were part of the Bartlett High School Group Interpretation theatrical production that took first place at the IHSA Group Interpretation State Competition in March. That team included Alden Williams, a recipient of the Class of 2018 United Black Scholarship and also a Superintendent's Scholarship. Williams is performing in "Les Miserables" as part of the ensemble.
This was the first time in Bartlett High and U-46 history that a U-46 school won the sectional tournament and placed within the top 10 in the state, said director and Bartlett High teacher Mike Miserendino.
Miserendino chose the musical after seeing a Chicago performance with students last winter. Students were thrilled when they learned that "Les Miserables" was the summer production.
The Summer Theatre program has grown exponentially these past three years, said Miserendino.
Karen Brhel of South Elgin High School and Hector Hernandez of Streamwood High School started the program along with Miserendino in the summer of 2016 with the production of "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" and performed it at the Steel Beam Theatre in St. Charles. Approximately 30 students were involved with the production in its inaugural year.
In the summer of 2017, the team produced "Almost, Maine" and performed it at BHS. Now with "Les Miserables," the program has expanded to involving 110 kids in the cast, crew, and pit.
"We're hoping that the momentum will continue for years to come," Miserendino said.