‘Les Miserables’: 20th Heartwood/LA collaboration


Something very special is about to unfold on stage at the Poe Theater at Lincoln Academy (LA), drawing audiences in to celebrate live theater with the spirit of joy and excitement experienced before March 2020.

Twenty years ago, the Heartwood Theater incorporated as a 501(c)(3) and embarked on an epic children’s production of the sung musical comedy adapted from Victor Hugo’s novel, “Les Miserables” (commonly referred to as ” The set”). Lincoln Academy enthusiastically joined as a collaborating partner, with LA voice teacher Beth Preston on board as vocal director and many cast members native to LA. Heartwood and LA have since combined their resources bringing outstanding youth performances to the community and providing remarkable opportunities for young people.

Featuring both the Heartwood Theater and Lincoln Academy, Griff Braley felt “Les Mis” would be the perfect bookend production, linking the 1st and 20the seasons. “I was very excited to introduce this musical to a new generation of students, and it’s been so fun to see the Facebook support from many of the original cast members, now in their late thirties! The themes and the lessons embedded in a production are always important, and ‘Les Mis’ highlights some of the greatest.As much as any piece I could choose, it is a work that elevates and challenges, all at the same time. Doing this side-by-side with Beth Preston is something special, having worked on musicals together for 25 years, before Heartwood even existed.

Epic and grand, “Les Mis” is an uplifting story about the survival of the human spirit, beleaguered by shattered dreams, driven by passion, settling in grace and redemption. Featuring one of the most memorable scores of all time, the show’s impact on performers and audiences will be incredible.

“Les Mis” demands effort (exactly the way Braley prefers to operate) from this 40+ student cast and crew, engaging them in strong literature, incredible music, learning to sing and acting. The work challenges individuals, but also develops an overall ethos that has become a hallmark quality of Heartwood productions, requiring the trust of other cast and crew members. Students report enthusiastically that the experience is intense, fun, challenging… and sometimes exhausting.

Two-thirds of the cast are freshmen and sophomores, many of whom have never had the opportunity to sing and perform in public. Choosing challenging work like “Les Mis” creates a void in which students realize early on that they are part of something much bigger than themselves – and many return, again and again, for that sense of belonging and accomplishment.

“The black box nature of the Poe Theater will provide a ‘Les Mis’ experience – the music, passion and heart of this story will permeate this space in a tangible way,” notes Joy Braley, Executive Director of Heartwood. “It will be an unforgettable show, and the audience is already building.”

Great theater requires great sponsors, and Heartwood is grateful to these generous, longstanding corporations: Bath Savings Institution and Chesterfield Associates, Inc, Heartwood’s season sponsors; Damariscotta Hardware, youth sponsor of the season; and First National Wealth Management and Peapod Jewelry, student ticket sponsors.

Seven evening performances are scheduled for October 27-29 and November 2-5 at 7 p.m. at the Parker Poe Theatre, 81 Academy Hill Road, Lincoln Academy. Reservations are strongly suggested, by emailing info@heartwoodtheater.org or calling 207-563-1373. Note: Lincoln Academy does not manage ticket sales. All adult tickets are $16 and students through college are $5.

Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, English lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer. Presented by special arrangement with Music Theater International (MTI).


Comments are closed.