“For two weeks, they’ve been painting their hearts out,” exclaimed Andrew Sherman, executive program director for the Fort Wayne Summer Music Theatre.
The group, which is a part of the Indiana Musical Theatre Foundation Inc., has been working on this musical for some weeks now, and will be performing it live during the last week of July and the first weekend of August.
Students in this program are involved in the many different aspects of putting on a musical. From singing to acting to lighting and working on the sets, they have a hands-on opportunity to learn about theatrical arts. Now in its 22nd year, the Fort Wayne Summer Music Theatre has only missed one summer of performances — and that was due to the COVID pandemic, last year.
This year, Sherman said they have a cast of 68 students, and everyone is eager to get back into the swing of regular theatrical work. “The students themselves just want to get back to normal,” he said.
One of the goals of this program is to enable students to participate in a production that is larger than what a single high school could usually handle. Whether that be due to the cost of the script, the size of the cast, or the demands on the technical system the school has, the Fort Wayne Summer Music Theatre has more resources to handle these demands. And “Les Misérables,” according to Sherman, is one of the biggest musicals ever created for a stage.
“We do a very inclusive program,” explained Sherman, noting that all students are asked to put in some hours of shop class-type work to help construct the stage backgrounds. But safety is high on the to-do list: “Any time it comes to cutting or sawing, an adult does that,” he noted. The planning and designing of sets is also done by professionals, who make sure things are safely set up. But students handle the putting-together, like hammering and painting.
The show will be given in the University of St. Francis Robert Goldstine Performing Arts Center (formerly the Scottish Rite Auditorium). Seating will be divided, so that the first two sections will have normal seat spacing, but the third level (or mezzanine) will allow groups to sit in socially distanced pods.
This presentation of “Les Misérables” will include costumes, music and staging, “The whole kit and caboodle,” Sherman affirmed. “It’s just going to be a very electric performance.”
Fort Wayne Summer Music Theatre will present “Les Misérables” July 23-25 and July 30-Aug. 1 at the USF Robert Goldstine Performing Arts Center, 431 W. Berry St., Fort Wayne. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. July 23, 24, 30 and 31, and 2 p.m. July 25, July 31 and Aug. 1.
Tickets are $18 for adults, $15 for high school students and younger (must show ID at door).