What: Les Misérables"
When: Runs through May 3 (showtimes vary)
Where: Cumberland County Playhouse, 221 Tennessee Ave., Crossville, Tenn.
Admission: $29 adults, $27 seniors, $14 children
Cumberland County Playhouse mounts its biggest production to date, in terms of physical space, when "Les Misérables" opens at the Crossville, Tenn., theater.
To create a panoramic effect for the many locations depicted in the musical, the playhouse has added new platforms and balconies to its side stages, according to spokeswoman Katy Parrent. This effect will be heightened by the use of multimedia.
"This is the first time we are going full out with projected digital images," says John Fionte, director of marketing for the playhouse and scenic designer for the musical. "It's the same equipment we saw used in the Oscars. We will use digital projections for the sewers in the second act, some on the battlements and a couple of smaller scenes created digitally in the first act."
"Les Misérables" is the musical based on the classic novel written by Victor Hugo about ex-convict Jean Valjean and his attempt to start a new life while evading pursuit by policeman Javert. It is a sweeping saga of adventure, romance and revolution spanning several decades in the characters' lives.
Its score includes songs that have become Broadway classics: "Do You Hear the People Sing?" "One Day More" and "On My Own."
Cast as Jean Valjean is Nathaniel Hackmann, straight off the current national tour of this award-winning show. He is a playhouse favorite for his roles in previous musicals such as "South Pacific," "Camelot," "Oklahoma" and "My Fair Lady."
His wife, Nicole Begue Hackmann, will play Fantine, who sings the musical's signature haunting ballad, "I Dreamed a Dream."
Veteran playhouse actors Britt Hancock and Jason Ross will alternate performances in the roles of dramatic villain Javert and comic villain Thenardier.
"It's a remarkable undertaking because each of those roles is large and challenging, and to be playing both of them is a huge challenge," says Fionte.
Greg and Lindy Pendzick are cast as Marius and Cosette, Anna Baker is Eponine and Lauren Marshall Murphy is Madame Thenardier.
In total, Fionte says, the production will feature a cast of 90, which includes playhouse veterans supplemented by professionals from Tullahoma, Knoxville and Murfreesboro, Tenn. Students from the CCP's Performance Education Program will alternate in the roles of young Cosette, Eponine and Gavroche.
More than 200 costumes have been created by Rebel Mickelson and her crew for the production.
"It's a massive story and a thrilling one," says Fionte. "It's an extraordinary journey for the audience. There are so many sweeping story arcs of so many characters. It covers a broad amount of time, so we see children grow up and characters experience broad chunks of life."
Contact staff writer Susan Pierce at email@example.com or 423-757-6284.
Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...