Pupils at Queen’s Park High School are having a miserable time this week.
The talented youngsters are presenting the schools version of the hit West End musical Les Misérables, by Shönberg and Boublil, based on the novel by Victor Hugo.
Director Matt Yeoman said: “Producing a show like Les Misérables requires a certain level of talent and commitment from any actor, technician or musician.
“However, when asking a group of 11-18 year olds to do the same, requires something extra special. “When the Visual and Performing Arts staff discussed the show for 2014 it was obvious that from the talented group of students within the school we could easily find a Valjean, Javert, Eponine and the other 30 or so characters to play the main roles.
“The quality of performance from our students is exceptionally high and this is based on the continuous development of them as confident young performers from the moment they start in Year 7.
“For those students who enjoy performing but wanted an extra challenge, the technical side of the show has provided many opportunities to see them excel as a member of a large and dynamic backstage team. As well as learning about lighting, staging, props and scenery, students have excelled in their development of ‘softer’ skills such as team-work, self-management and reflective practice.”
The epic journey began in September last year when staff held three workshop auditions and then solo auditions to find their cast.
Mr Yeoman added: “We then invited a former actor on the Les Misérables tour to work with our students in a two hour workshop. “This was a brilliant opportunity for them to understand the text and theatricality of the show. Throughout the process we liaised closely with the team in the West End and arranged for the students to not only see the show at the Queen’s Theatre, but also receive a personalised backstage tour from the stage manager.”
Mr Yeoman confessed that one of the biggest challenges was creating the set, with the famous barricades.
He said: “Every effort has been made by the backstage team to work with, and design around, the fantastic revolve which has been brought in especially for the show. With hours and hours spent building up the barricades, arches, gateways and raked stage the visual aspect of the show is outstanding.”
Another exciting element of the production is a unique collaboration with Chester Philharmonic Orchestra.
Mr Yeoman explained: “With the support of chairman Val Meeks the orchestra has been rehearsing with our students and will be performing for all of the live shows. This sort of opportunity is very rare in a school and certainly nothing we have every attempted before. The quality of the music and singing is exceptional and we are all incredibly proud of everything the staff and students have achieved as members of a very dedicated and driven team.”
Les Misérables is at Queen’s Park High School until February 14.