The curtain pulled back and history was made at the Amarillo Little Theatre Friday Sept. 20 as ALT kicked off opening night of their 85th anniversary Mainstage season with the epic musical Les Miserables. According to ALT Academy Director Jason Crestin, ALT is the first community theatre in Texas to obtain the rights from Music Theatre International to produce Les Miserables. An internationally renowned classic celebrating 25 years of existence, the over 35-member cast is the second largest in ALT history, and according to Crestin the honor of ALT producing Les Miserables brought pressure for the theatre.
“There were definitely high expectations that came with this show as far as the level of talent that we needed,” Crestin said. “But we are lucky to have such talented actors in our community. [Director] Allen Shankles has done a fantastic job, he really overcame any obstacles he thought he may have had.”
According to opening night attendee and ALT regular Matt Morgan, the cast was made up of the absolute best the Amarillo community has to offer.
“The talent that was in [Les Miserables], from the leads to the chorus, was probably the most talent that I’ve ever seen on stage at one time at ALT,” Morgan said. “Even the sets were more intricate and the costumes were amazing. I would say that it definitely looked like it took more work than anything I’ve ever seen there.”
Among the talent in Les Miserables is WTAMU senior secondary education major Sam Smeaton in the role of Enjolras, head of the revolutionary effort in the show.
“I know this show by heart, and I have for years,” Smeaton said. “It’s a dream come true to be in [Les Miserables], specifically playing the role I have. It’s something I’ve wanted to be in since I was ten years old.”
Given the historic merit and clout Les Miserables has in the theatre community, Smeaton said the energy-opening weekend was incredible.
“After the show, one lady came up to me and said she was ready to jump out of her chair and join the revolution,” Smeaton said.
The tangible energy was something Smeaton, Morgan and Crestin all attested to feeling from their various areas of the theater while the show was running.
“It’s a great time to be at the theatre,” Crestin said. “Before opening night, there was a definite sense of excitement, it being a record-breaking show at ALT. The last couple of weeks have been electric watching people who have followed [Les Miserables] for so long finally getting to be part of the show.”
Smeaton said being a part of the show was one of the most gratifying things he’s ever done.
“[Les Miserables] is arguably the most well-known musical in Broadway history,” Smeaton said. “It’s really emotionally intense. There’s romance, sacrifice, death, comradery, people are teary-eyed by the end of it. It has a depth that a lot of people appreciate, it’s easily one of the best stories ever written.”
Les Miserables will end its three-week run on the ALT Mainstage with a final performance on Oct. 7.