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‘Everyone is flawed’

A classic tale of passion and destruction will make its debut on the University of South Dakota stage this week.

The Department of Theatre’s production of “Les Miserables” will start Nov. 21 and continue through Nov. 25 in the Wayne S. Knutson Theatre in the Warren M. Lee Center for the Fine Arts. The show will start at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 21-23 and Nov. 25, with a 2 p.m. performance Nov. 24.

“(Les Miserables) is a story told in epic content,” director Matt Nesmith said. “It is one man’s search for hope. Essentially, everyone (in the play) is flawed, but everyone is redeemable.”

Set in France, “Les Miserables,” or “Les Mis” as it is usually referred as, is told through the eyes of Jean Valjean, a man who escapes imprisonment  and vows to help others during difficult times in the June Revolution. His whole life is a quest for redemption of the life that was robbed from him. Jean Valjean also adopts Cosette, another major character and raises her has her father. Junior Steve Schaeffer is playing Valjean in USD’s production.

‘Les Mis’ is about God, love, human spirit, redemption and what people will do for love,” Schaeffer said.

Schaeffer said he is excited to perform in one of his personal favorite musicals.

“It’s extremely accessible. It has a lot of memorable songs, and it has everything. (A main theme is) fighting for what you believe in. I believe it is one of the best musicals there is,” Schaeffer said.

Nesmith said even though not everyone has seen the play or even the movie, the music is recognizable for all ages.

“Students and their parents could have heard a song from it,” he said.

Students can relate to the story because it has a little bit of everything,” first-year Ebrin Stanley, who plays Javert, Valjean’s enemy, said.

Although cast members know that not all students know the story line of the play, they will be able to relate to the themes that occur in the story.

“You can relate to ‘Les Mis’ because it is all about the fight,” Stanley said.

Stanley said that students will be able to relate to the play in more ways than one.

“As young adults, we are all fighting for something,” Stanley said.

A unique aspect to this play is the stage will be the turntable. The turntable will rotate with the scenes,  and members of both the cast and backstage crew will remove the props of the last scene and add on new props for the following scene.

“(The turntable) is well-known in productions of ‘Les Mis,’ ” sophomore Kelsey Mitteness, an ensemble member of the cast, said. “It will move with set changes.”

Stanley said even if students have seen the movie, the play is a whole other experience.

“Students should see it outside of the movie and support your peers. And, tickets are $5, so why not?” Stanley said.

“Even if you aren’t into musicals you probably have heard some music. Plus we have been working really hard,” Mitteness said.

The production is “visually and musically stunning. People will be moved,” said Nesmith.