Trio of Amherstburg residents taking part in Theatre Alive’s “Les Misérables”

 

By Ron Giofu

 

When Theatre Alive’s presentation of “Les Misérables” takes the stage next month, it will feature three performers from Amherstburg.

Les MisAmy Meloche, Jake Simpkins and Gregory Girty are part of the cast of the show, which runs Sept. 27-29 and Oct. 4-6 at the Chrysler Theatre in Windsor.

“Everything taken into consideration, we have such a great show,” said Simpkins.

Simpkins said he was stage manager for Theatre Alive’s production of “Pippin” in March but this is his first production with the company.

Simpkins, a 2012 graduate of the St. Clair College musical theatre and performance program, does have prior credits which include Lazar Wolf in “Fiddler on the Roof” (2010), Vince Fontaine/assistant director in “Grease” (2011), The King in “Cinderella” (2012) at St Clair College, Ensemble in “The Wizard of Oz” (Windsor Light 2013), Sergei in “Eurobeat” (London Fringe 2013) and stage manager/assistant director for “Falling” (Alumnae Theatre 2013).

Simpkins said his experiences have been overwhelmingly positive with Theatre Alive. He said there is a closeness with the cast that he enjoys.

“Everyone gets along,” said Simpkins. “Everyone is one big family around here.”

The abilities of some of the talent with the company is “amazing,” he said, adding he is “truly baffled” at the amount of talent in “Les Misérables.”

Simpkins said he has been telling friends that if there is one show they should see, “Les Misérables” is that show. He added the cast owes a lot of gratitude to director Brian Raisbeck and producer Florence Raisbeck.

“We owe them a lot for putting on this show,” said Simpkins. “It’s a big show.”

He added that with musical direction by Benjamin Goldstein and “a cast that packs an emotional wallop, Theatre Alive’s Les Misérables is guaranteed to live up to the show’s reputation.”

Simpkins has also tried his hand as a playwright with two plays submitted for the Toronto Fringe Festival and Tarragon Theatre. He plans on applying to the National Theatre School of Canada in Montreal  for the directing and playwright programs for the 2014 year.

Girty was raised in Kent County and in his youth he performed on stage at Blenheim High School, Ridge Players, and the Kiwanis Music Festival. He moved to Windsor, where he lived for several years and studied computer science. Girty noted that within a year of completing university, he married “his high school sweetheart” and moved to Amherstburg.

While raising a family and starting a career, his musical endeavors were put on hiatus, as he stated this is his first production in roughly a decade.

Now that he has been “blessed with free time,” he answered the casting call for “Les Misérables” to rekindle his hobby, “enjoy the company of talented people, and hear the applause of an audience.”

Girty also believed “Les Misérables” is a show that should be seen.

“If you like the theatre at all, it’s the Mount Everest of shows,” said Girty.

“Les Misérables” has a lot of “catchy” songs and a lot more, he said and it is being performed by a great cast. Girty said he was “shocked” by the caliber of the performers with Theatre Alive.

“Anyone in Amherstburg who wants to see it won’t be disappointed,” said Girty.

Meloche said she is “overjoyed” to have her first acting experience be “in one of the greatest musical of all time, Les Misérables.”

Meloche acknowledged she doesn’t have a long list of credits to her name  but is realizing a dream of hers to be able to sing and act.  Meloche added she  “hopes to inspire others to follow their hearts and do what they love.”

“I feel very blessed to be given the opportunity to be a part of this extremely talented cast of Les Misérables,” said Meloche. “Unlike so many other actors and singers in this cast, I don’t have a long list of credits to my name, just a desire to sing, act and work alongside remarkably talented artist.  I am a stay at home mom with two awesome children and wife to a loving, patient husband.  My hope is to inspire others to follow their hearts and do what they love, whatever it is.  I want to give thanks to Brian and Florence Raisbeck, for believing in me and giving me the chance to follow my dreams. ‘Les Misérables’ is a story of bravery, honor, friendship and love; all this I have experienced working on this remarkable musical.”

Meloche also said the cast is “a closely-knit group” adding “it’s kind of neat to represent (Amherstburg)” in the show. She continued by stating it’s a show that should be seen live.

According to a press release sent by Theatre Alive, “Les Misérables” is “set in early 19th-century France and is the story of Jean Valjean, a burly French peasant of abnormal strength and potentially violent nature, and his quest for redemption after serving nineteen years in jail for having stolen a loaf of bread for his starving sister’s child. Valjean decides to break his parole and start his life anew after a kindly bishop inspires him to, but he is relentlessly tracked down by a police inspector named Javert. Along the way, Valjean and a slew of characters are swept into a revolutionary period in France, where a group of young idealists make their last stand at a street barricade. Les Misérables is a powerful affirmation of the human spirit.”

Tickets $34 and $36. To order tickets, call Theatre Alive’s box office at 519-737-9919 or visit our website at www.theatrealive.com or call the Chrysler Theatre box office 519-252-6579 or online at www.chryslertheatre.com. Friday and Saturday shows are at 8 p.m., Sunday shows are at 2 p.m.

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