For Gayle Cameron and Don Secomb there is something special about bringing Les Misérables back to the Taree stage.
Both were involved in the Taree Arts Council production in 1995, Gayle as co-choreographer and ensemble cast member, and Don as musical director.
Now the director, Gayle said Les Misérables is always special to be part of and those involved will never forget the experience.
“The powerful story, beautiful music and clever lyrics get under your skin and into your soul,” she said.
It’s also a moving experience for the audience and Don said the music plays a big part in that.
“When you have such an emotional story supported by this music, it seems to touch people deeply,” he said.
“The arc of the story is hugely satisfying as well, as we follow the central character of Jean Valjean from outcast to a man full of goodness and love.”
When you have such an emotional story supported by this music, it seems to touch people deeply.Musical director, Don Secomb
Gayle’s decision to stage Les Misérables came when she was looking for a musical to direct after Mary Poppins in 2015.
“Coincidentally, the rights to Les Misérables were released to selected organisations after 23 years of only being available to professional companies.
“Taree Arts Council applied in late 2016 and so began the journey of bringing this iconic and beloved musical juggernaut to the stage.”
She approached Don to be musical director.
“I have enjoyed working with Don on many shows, including the first Les Misérables in 1995 and more recently, Cabaret and Mary Poppins.
“We have similar aims, standards, vision and outcomes for productions and I admire the quiet, unruffled, professional way he approaches rehearsals and, of course, the high standards of voice and music displayed when performances are here.”
Don also feels he works with Gayle well.
“We respect and value each other's role and expertise as we contribute to the process of bringing a show to the stage,” he said. “We communicate well and there is always a feeling of trust between us.”
Gayle said it was marvellous to have a live orchestra under Don’s baton to accompany what she describes as a “grand and powerful show”.
“The 17 players give a richness of sound necessary to bring the revised orchestrations alive.
“Don has also been the vocal director, ably assisted by Ariana Shneider.”
Gayle said there have been a few changes made to the professional productions of Les Misérables over the 35 years it has been running.
“We are bound by copyright to follow these modifications, which keep the storyline and spirit of the show the same but keep up with contemporary audiences.
It has been interesting and fulfilling to nurture and develop the cast to become characters so far removed from their usual everyday lives.Director, Gayle Cameron
“I have enjoyed finding fresh subtleties and nuances to suit the talented people who play the characters in the story.
“It has been interesting and fulfilling to nurture and develop the cast to become characters so far removed from their usual everyday lives.
“In this production there is a great mixture of seasoned and inexperienced performers and this blend has been inspiring and motivational to those newer to the world of musical theatre.”
For Don, although it’s his second time musically directing the show, it feels a lot like a new experience.
“It’s almost entirely a different cast, and different director with her own vision, and different orchestrations.
“However the fact that the show is still telling the same story with the same wonderful songs and music that I love, means I have enjoyed the experience just as much as the first time.”
The 1995 production was Don’s first time as musical director for Taree Arts Council and he said coming at it 23 years later has brought a more mature person’s perspective to his role.
“I find I have been able to contribute more to the interpretation of the lead characters' songs than in 1995.”
He said the production has come together well.
“The cast has been predominantly enthusiastic and the orchestra have all been 100 per cent into the show and the music they play.”
He said the transition into the theatre for the cast and orchestra in October saw the whole production lift immensely.
While focused on the current production, Gayle has fond memories of 1995.
“I co-choreographed with Jo Dooley. As there is little dancing in the show we also staged some of the scenes such as the Lovely Ladies.
“I loved playing a diverse range of characters in a variety of scenes, such as At the End of the Day, Lovely Ladies, Thenardier’s Inn, The Beggars, The Wedding and One Day More.”
She remembers the final night performance being very emotional.
I recommend you get to see this phenomenon, we close on November 18 and seats are selling fast.Director, Gayle Cameron
“All the performers had become a family and you know those bonds will be broken after the last light is extinguished and the props packed away.
“Les Miserables has to be the most beloved musical ever known. Its magic and power continues to grow around the world, stirring hearts and emotions.
“I recommend you get to see this phenomenon, we close on November 18 and seats are selling fast.”
Tickets are available from the Manning Entertainment Centre website www.themec.com.au, phone 6592 5466, or at the Customer Service Desk at Stockland Forster.