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Lodi Musical Theater prepares for ‘Les Miserables’

Lodi Musical Theater prepares for ‘Les Miserables’

Community theater group is among the first in the country to perform the longest running musical of all time

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Jean Valjean

Spencer Borup, 23, is so dedicated to his role as Jean Valjean that the numbers 24601 are now tattooed on his chest. That’s ex-convitct Valjean’s prison number.

“It’s a tattoo I was looking for an excuse to get,” he said. “‘Les Miserables’ has always been my favorite book.”

Like many of the core cast, this is on Borup’s list of dream roles. That spirit of gratitude lends a familial tone to the relationships among the cast, who now feel like brothers and sisters to Borup.

Challenge: “Aging my voice. I’m almost giving an accent to the words, and finding roughness. And all those high notes.”

Fantine

Jenna Kroff, 21, has less stage time than many of her castmates, but her role as Fantine is often the most remembered in the show.

“In the movie, Anne Hathaway played Fantine. She won an Oscar,” said Kroff. “I knew I had to take a different approach.”

Kroff’s Fantine is less sweet and innocent. Instead, the character is a proud and flawed young mother whose pride breaks down through attempts to protect her daugter.

Favorite scene: “The first confrontation between Valjean and Javert. When they duel, it’s so intense you can feel the testosterone flying.”

Inspector Javert

Erik Catalan, 34, got his first brush with ‘Les Mis’ in at Woodland High School, when his chorus sang a medley from the show. That’s when he bought the soundtrack and began to memorize every song.

Since then, playing Javert has been in the top spot of his musical theater to-do list. He’s sporting richly made coats with fringe, sashes and gold buttons to reflect Javert’s rank as an officer.

“I admire Javert’s intensity,” he said. “He’s unwavering. Almost to the bitter end, he does not give up on what he believes in, and his mission.”

Challenge: “It’s really against my own character to be so mean. I have to pull from every mean fiber in me to pull this off.”

Marius

Colin LaValley, 21, plays Marius, a French student who is torn between his love for Cosette and his desire to stand with his fellows in the revolution.

His costume is made of fine cloth and silk to show the wealth of the young rebels. LaValley also wears bright blue contact lenses to make his eyes pop onstage.

“The show is vocally demanding,” he said. “There’s solos, duets, chorus numbers. It requires perserverance, but it’s a lot of fun.”

Favorite song: “‘Empty Chairs at Empty Tables.’ I’m thinking of the friends who laid down their lives for the rebellion, and I’m the only one left. I want to show the audience what that feels like.”

Cosette

Janelle Chaney, 24, wears a pale pink gown dotted with rosettes and white lace boots to play Cosette, the daughter of Fantine, ward of Jean Valjean, and love interest of Marius.

“This is one of my dream roles. It’s something very close to my heart,” said the Morada woman, who studied Victor Hugo’s book for two years in high school.

“It’s not a fluff piece. It’s dark, it’s heartfelt, it’s human. I’m blessed to be given the opportunity to perform this role.”

Challenge: “Cosette is such a high soprano, she can sound like a princessy bird. I want to bring a grounded humanity to it.”

Posted: Friday, November 15, 2013 7:27 am

“I need a bigger throw on that. You really have to huck her.”

“I need a scarf on this man; I can’t be seeing his white cravat.”

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