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Les Misérables

Student lands classic role

By Ellen McCauley
On March 7, 2014


To celebrate their 80th season, Theatre Cedar Rapids (TCR) will be performing the world's longest running musical, "Les Misérables", from June 20 through July 13. 

According to Nikki Stewart, vocal music emphasis, TCR's production of "Les Misérables" is a big moment for the community theatre. 

"This is going to be huge," Stewart said. "This is TCR's 80th season, so its a big celebration."

"Les Misérables" will be Stewart's 11th TCR production in addition to her performance in Kirkwood Community College's production of "The Drowsy Chaperon" last year. She said she has been cast as Eponine for TCR's show.

"When I saw the cast list I was elated," Stewart said. "There's no way to describe that kind of feeling. It's great. I felt very, very blessed to receive the opportunity." 

Over 300 people auditioned in December for the production, which was a good thing according to Stewart. She accredited the overwhelming number of candidates to the recent movie release in 2012. The large audition pool meant the directors had various options for the cast, she added. 

"I just knew that the stakes were going to be high and I was going to be really, really excited no matter what the outcome," Stewart said. "I knew that it was just going to be such an insane experience to audition in general."

Leslie Charipar, artistic director at TCR, described the casting process for "Les Misérables" as "one of the hardest casting decisions we've ever had to make." Charipar added that after callbacks the casting process still lasted hours when determining who would be cast in each part.  

Charipar commented that Stewart had a great audition and she fit the character Eponine best overall. She compared Stewart's strengths and weaknesses to Eponine's character.

"One of the things Nikki does well is she has strength in her but there's also a vulnerability," Charipar said. "You like her but you also root for her and that's what I think you need to do as Eponine."

Designers have already started set, concept and costume designs, according to Charipar. Both Charipar and Stewart said they are excited to see how the set comes together.

"Designs should be pretty interesting. Traditionally there is the rotating barricade but we're not going to do that, we're going to do something different," Charipar said. "I have really high expectations for the design and the cast but I think there are going to be people who surprise themselves." 

There are still opportunities for people to get involved in the "Les Misérables" production. Although the cast has been chosen, people can sign up for tech, crew and costume design on the TCR website, Charipar said she believes that volunteering with TCR is a great experience for anyone who wants to share a connection with people.

"I think Cedar Rapids is really lucky because TCR is a great resource. We've been around a really long time and I think we're pretty good at what we do," Charipar said. "Whether it's being in the audience and seeing theatre for the first time or any experience you get as a volunteer onstage, off stage, ushering or building sets, I think its great."

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