Les Mise’rables is a very tough musical to take on and perform well, and the students at Bloom Vernon High School are ready and willing to take this on and put on a show that will keep the audience entertained throughout the entire performance. Rhonda Mays is the high school music teacher and the director for the musical.
Speaking with the students who are playing some of the major roles: Nick Smith portrays Jean Valjean, says of this part, “It has been amazing and it’s a great honor to play this character. This is one of my favorite musicals.” He says that they have been working on their parts since school started. He said that he really wanted this part.
Braden Martin who is portraying Enjolras, and said “It’s different. I would rather sing than act, but I do enjoy acting and this part has a lot of both.” Martin has done quite a bit of theatre, as he was in two of the musicals at Bloom Vernon, when he was younger.
Samuel Holstein, is portraying Marius. He says one of his favorite parts is, “when Cosette and I sing, “A Heart Full of Love,” because she’s a great singer and I just like the song a lot.” He continued and spoke of the fight scene and says, “It’s a really different scene to act out, because it’s not like you are talking and, it’s something we have never really done before.”
Josiah Edwards, portrays Javert saying, “I love this role, probably my favorite part is whenever I get to fight Jean Valjean, I love that scene.” He continued speaking about acting on stage, “Once you start acting, you really become that person, it’s a lot easier to do it, when you become that person.”
The whole group of students gathered around Mays table, said they were really excited that she picked Les Mise’rables, even though a couple of them did not know much about the musical. Holstein says, “It’s really made me have a new appreciation for music overall. This music is incredible and I didn’t know that till Mrs. Mays picked it.” The students said they might have a few jitters before hand, but when they begin acting their parts, it becomes more natural to them and they become that part. They also say that Mays has put her heart and soul into the musical and they appreciate that.
“We are really proud to have so many great guys at our school that are involved in our music program, I wanted to make sure I found something that showcased them,” Mays said. “We have a great tradition here, where the kids are involved in music and sports or any other activity they may like to do.” Smith and Martin are both juniors this year, but Holstein and Edwards are the seniors, and as for their aspirations for the future, Smith is planning to attend Liberty University and study cinematic arts and Edwards is either going to go to Rio Grande and become a PE teacher and throw in track, or he says he might follow Smith to Liberty.
Mays says that she has 90 students participating in the cast and crew of the musical and that shows the dedication to the program. “We have a great tradition of musical theatre here, we have a whole list of musicals we have had over the past 20 years. We’ve talked a lot about the meaning of the show. These seniors have done, Oliver, High School Musical, and then last year, we did Beauty and the Beast” she said. “The education side of me tries to pick things that will make it a well rounded experience for them, all four years. I can’t tell you how proud of them that these students have embraced this and we’ve talked so much about the meaning of Les Miserables…but the themes and life lessons are still pertinent today. Pretty much in rehearsals, I can say, ‘what are you learning from this?” Mays has been at Bloom Vernon for 11 years and has 25 years of teaching in total.
The next group of students that sat around Mays’ table, were two of the young ladies playing some of the leading parts and another young man.
Baylee Martin, a senior, is portraying the part of Fantine. “Oh my gosh it’s exciting. I feel like for Fantine, the way that I act, I try to find a way to relate to my character in some sort of way,” Martin said. “I may not be able to relate to the love she has for her child. And I may not like feel the pain it comes from being a woman in that time period, where she is on her own and has all these responsibilities, where I too, have been in a phase in my life where I struggled with gaining that confidence and being the strong woman that Fantine finds herself to be. And then singing such an empowering song, it helps me find and cope with really big parts of myself. So not only has this musical been a joy to perform, not only is it an honor to be Fantine, it’s been an honor to live and learn life through my character.” With Martin being a senior, she says she wants to take a little bit of theatre with her and use it in her major in college, because she thinks you need a little bit of grandeur, stage and theatrics in your life, just to keep going.
Jenna Mays, a sophomore, is portraying the coveted part of Cosette. “I’m super excited. Last year I was kind of like a supporting character, a really good part, but this year I get solos to myself,” Mays sad. “I get lines to myself, I have a character that doesn’t bounce off of other characters.” She continued later to speak of the work and chemistry she has to do with Holstein and she said that he is awesome and that may have something to do with his being a senior and having more experience in theatre.
Ethan Bloomfield, a junior, is portraying the one, somewhat humorous part of Thenardier. “I mean this is like my first role where I have songs to myself, so I’m elated, I’m beyond excited! I love singing, but the acting is great, this musical is super serious, I mean I’m the only one out there like making a fool of himself,” Bloomfield said. “I’m the only break the audience gets from the sadness of the story. My character is basically anti- Jean Valjean. I’m presented with all the same things that he is, prospects of faith, prospects of money, but my character doesn’t give in to becoming a better person, I’m okay with being a thief and a liar. Not only do I have to portray that well, but I have to be funny. An undertaking I am very willing to accept.” He brought up the fact that when he is on stage, he is not Ethan, but is Thenardier, he does not break character. He very eloquently said that in this play, everyone has to sell their character in order to portray their part well.
The students in this play promise they will not only entertain the audience, but will do their utmost to portray and perform their best, on the lessons that can be learned throughout the entire musical.
Les Mise’rables Cast and Directors – Main Cast: Nick Smith- Jean Valjean Josiah Edwards- Javert Baylee Martin- Fantine Samuel Holstein- Marius Braden Martin- Enjolras Kaylea McCleese- Eponine Jenna Mays- Cosette Ethan Bloomfield- Thenardier Addie Smith- Madame Thenardier
Directors: Rhonda Mays and Kate Claxon
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740) 353-3101 ext. 1928