OPS students wrap up Les Mis

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July 12th, 2012

Omaha, NE – The Omaha Public School district wrapped up its summer musical program last weekend with the production of Les Miserables.

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Dawaune Hayes performing in OPS’ Les Miserable as the character Thenadier. (Photo courtesy Colin Brown)

Shortly after the final bows and audience applause, the crew started to take down the Les Miserables set at Omaha South High School. Les Miserable is a story mainly about an ex-convict’s struggle and journey to redemption set in 19th century France. Most of the characters in the play are adults with adult issues. Colin Brown is the director/producer of the show and an OPS vocal music director. Brown said his actors, ranging from third to 12th grade OPS students, had the opportunity to walk in adult shoes.

During a six week rehearsal period, Brown said all aspects of production were taught, including “the music, lyrics and the story behind the French Revolution,” Brown said. Rehearsals also included sharing “stories of why people make choices they make when they’re pressed up against a wall,” he said.

“When you’re poor or when you’re down and out” these are stories “we didn’t shy away from,” Brown said. “We talked about the stories as a cast, in small groups and large groups,” he said.

Dawaune Hayes is one of 80 students in this production. Hayes is a recent Central High School graduate and he’s been involved in theatre since seventh grade. He said his “sewer rat” character ruins people lives with no shame, and making his role believable was a challenge.

“I’m usually like a happy-go-lucky kind of guy,” Hayes said. “So when I had to play a devilish, kind of unruly character, I read up about it and looked up other performances.”

“It was a lot of investing time in what am I doing and why am I doing this, then developing a character from that,” he said.

Colin Brown also said to communicate this mature work effectively, all the students including actors, pit orchestra, and crew members had to work together. “They have their parts to do and they need to be responsible for that,” he said, “but they’re also responsible to everyone else and they need everyone else.”

“They need to rely on each other and build trust because we need everybody to make this work,” he said.

OPS’ summer musical program will continue next year for its sixth consecutive run.

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