Those who attend the upcoming production of “Les Misérables” at Wildey Theatre in Edwardsville might feel like they’re a part of the famous drama.
“Our theater is an intimate place,” Wildey production manager Jason Gerstenecker said. “It’s a 325-seat facility and there are no bad seats in this place.”
The Wildey, 252 N. Main St. in Edwardsville, opened in 2011 following a period of extensive renovation. The theater features Broadway-style shows like Les Misérables as well as comedies, dance shows and national music acts.
“The Wildey is a great performance venue,” director Paul Pitts said. “We have use of a wonderful backstage area and a screening room. They also have a wonderful lighting setup. It’s just amazing.”
Pitts fronts Cabaret Showcase Productions, a local amateur theater company that will stage the play.
Les Misérables, based on a novel by Victor Hugo and seen by more than 60 million people worldwide, takes place in 19th century France and revolves around the life of Jean Valjean, who is released after many years of unjust imprisonment. He breaks his parole in hopes of starting a new life, initiating a lifelong struggle for redemption while being pursued by police inspector Javert, who refuses to believe Valjean can change. Pitts said the play confronts human issues of “compassion and identity.” Greater Alton actors Scott Degigz and Jess Loefler will portray Javert and Valjean. Both are recipients of the Arts for Life award, a local award for artists.
“They’re well-seasoned actors,” Pitts said of the leads. “And they’ve really stepped it up and are performing at a high level on this one.”
The ages of the actors in the 45-member cast range from teens to older adults. Pitts describes the music as drawn from the 19th century setting and including elements from rock and classical genres. There’s also dance in the musical sections of the play.
“When directing this group of actors I’m really making sure they concentrate on the vocals,” Pitts said. “The melodic lines in the songs help tell the story and reveal a lot about the characters. In the dance numbers, the actors also have to stay in character; this also adds to the story.”
The sets include touches of the urban and rural: backdrops of 19th century Paris, a bridge in Paris as well as natural settings such as mountains.
“This is an intelligent show,” Pitts said. “It’s a salute to community theater; people are really missing something if they don’t come. There’s so much great singing and acting.”
Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 1 and 2. For information and to purchase tickets, call (618) 307-1750.