Niagara Gazette — I was in a community theater production a couple of years ago.
It was a one-night guest performance — a starring role in the play “Love Letters,” where two actors sit at desks and read love letters they’ve written to each other over the course of their lives.
I had always wanted to try community theater but still, I was nervous. In the couple of days I had to prepare, I steeled myself, expecting to face rows of people staring up at me through the spotlights. What happened was far worse. The weather turned bad that night and the four people who came to see the play were all related to me.
It was painful, but I walked away with new respect for those who fill our local stages with dramatic entertainment. The ones who say to each other, like Mickey Rooney, “Hey, let’s put on a show!”
Our region is flush with local theater groups who relentlessly come up with new ways to amuse those of us who buy their tickets. But, local audience loyalty is spotty at best.
That’s why my eyes widened when I heard that one local group, Theatre in the Mist, was taking on “Les Miserables.” I’m pretty sure I muttered, “are you kidding me?”
For those who don’t keep up with musical theater, or haven’t read the reams of press about last year’s movie of the same name, the musical opera is a massive undertaking. There’s a giant cast. And everybody sings all through the play, each lyric advancing the plot.
Those involved have gamely taken on a production that director Joey Bucheker calls “a monster.” The theater group’s chairman, Ryan Scarfone, calls it “a beast.”
The 14-year-old company has never attempted anything like this, but they know big reach leads to big gains. This could considerably amp up its reputation, which has already been increasing with successful past musicals like “The Wizard of Oz,” and “Annie.”