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Parlez-vous musical theater?

Music and More takes on classic 'Les Miserables'
By: Melody Stone, Journal staff writer
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Jonathan Coder loves “Les Miserables” so much he tears up talking about it, and he doesn’t cry easily. “I’m more passionate about this musical than any other musical we’ve directed,” Coder said. Coder is directing the musical for Music and More Arts Academy and Theatre with actors ages 10 to 19. The production opens this weekend and runs through March 20. Coder is confident the youth will put on a wonderful show and do justice to Victor Hugo’s story. “I feel really strongly about our leads,” Coder said. Coder raves about 18-year-old, Erik Smith, playing the lead of Jean Valjean. Coder said when he heard Smith audition he said, “Holy cow, that guy is good.” Smith saw the play on television at age 6 and fell in love with the music. He memorized all the songs. “It’s basically a dream come true that I get to sing this music and portray this character that’s touched so many people’s lives,” Smith said. “I get to be apart of the epic story.” The stage production is based on a novel, of the same name, by Victor Hugo. The play is set in Paris during a 20-year period in the early 19th century. The story follows an ex-convict, Jean Valjean, his path toward redemption and the lives impacted by his actions. The play requires every actor, even the bit parts, to have top-notch vocals. Coder said the vocal arrangement and finding quality voices for each part was a huge challenge. “It’s hard to find that many great voices,” Coder said. The set requires a large spinning barricade. Music and More’s stage is rather small, Coder said. This creates another big challenge for producing such a show. “It’s more intimate that way,” Coder said, in reference to the small stage. “Makes it a real tear-jerker.” Coder is so passionate about the show because he feels the music and story “uncover an aspect of humanity people don’t talk about a lot but everyone can relate to.”