Director Enthusiastic For White Plains PAC's 'Les Miserables'

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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- When the rights became available for "Les Miserables" earlier this year, director Jeremy Quinn knew the White Plains Performing Art Center (WPPAC) had to do it.

Despite the 1987 Tony award-winning musical's notorious production costs and talent demands, the theater committed itself to producing the musical in a way that Westchester has never seen. "Les Miserables" will be opening at the theater on Dec. 13. 

"This is, by far, the most difficult show to produce well in all of musical theater," Quinn said. 

However, he believes every penny and stressful moment is worth it for the power of the musical.

"(People should take the time and money to) come see 'Les Miserables' because it is a story about triumph over adversity. It is about a man who has every odd against him, but he works hard, and, in the end, he gets everything he deserves out of life," he said.

Quinn, who lives in Yonkers, added that, during the holidays, people gravitate towards inspirational stories, and "Les Miserables" is one of the most powerful ones that has endured the test of time.

He was concerned the amount of time set aside for rehearsals, blocking and other technical procedures would not be enough to produce the show masterfully. However, his cast surprised him.

"If you can believe it, the actors picked up the show in only three weeks," he said, "We've been running the full show in the studio, and now we're getting ready to move onto the stage." 

The cast, comprising adults and children from Westchester and New York City, has come together in an extraordinary way, according to Quinn.

John Anthony Lopez from Yonkers plays the lead of Jean Valjean. He is understudied by Steven Rich, who will also lead in some performances.

Zaida Rio Polanco is a 9-year old from White Plains, who plays young Cosette and young Eponine.

Triona O'Callaghan from Yonkers plays Eponine.

Three ensemble cast members are from Westchester as well, including: Chelsea Lynn Alfredo of Goldens Bridge, Mike Fries of New Rochelle and Brent McGee of Scarsdale.

"I love them from the bottom of my heart," Quinn said, "There's not an ego in the bunch. They are all committed to working together for love the show and the art." 

Due to budgeting concerns, there will be some notable differences between this production and previous ones. 

The show available for licensing has been cut from three hours to two hours and thirty minutes.

Additionally, the original Broadway production of "Les Miserables" included a revolving platform in order to change the vast amount of set pieces needed seamlessly. Since the theater is not equipped with a platform, the sets are changed by the actors in sensible transitions.

"I tried to make it so that every set change done by the actors makes sense, that it was logical for them to move what they were moving," he said.

However, what Quinn decided not to skimp on was the music. The music for the largely sung-through show will be performed by a 14-piece orchestra.

"The music is such a beautiful, fundamental part of this poignant show. We knew we couldn't compromise it or the show would be thin," he said, "There were cuts we could make elsewhere. I don't think Westchester has ever seen a 14-piece orchestra in a theater."

"Les Miserables" will run from Dec. 13 - 31. Tickets are $50 for adults, $30 for children high school age and younger.

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