A! Magazine for the Arts

Barter Theatre and Symphony of the Mountains Team Up For Les Misérables

July 16, 2013

KINGSPORT, TN – The big buzz this summer has been about Barter Theatre's production of Les Misérables, arguably the best musical of all time.

Now, the already epic show will grow to larger-than-life proportions when Barter artists join The Symphony of the Mountains on one stage for two nights only. The Barter/Symphony collaboration will take place at the Toy F. Reid Eastman Employee Center in Kingsport, Tenn., Aug. 16 and Aug. 17 at 7:30 p.m.

This is a very rare chance to hear all the gorgeous and powerful songs of "Les Mis" backed by a full, professional orchestra.

For the collaboration, the staging will be simplified to accommodate the larger orchestra, with just enough production elements (like props and costumes) to tell the story clearly. Audiences who want to see the fully-staged production should make reservations to see Les Mis at Barter Theatre before it closes Aug. 11 – and then make reservations to see the special collaboration as well, with its added emphasis on the music.

"Doing the show with the symphony is truly about the music," said Richard Rose, producing artistic director of Barter Theatre. "This collaboration is much more about the musical experience – both orchestra and vocals – than it is about staging, special effects or spectacle."

Since Les Mis opened at Barter Theatre in mid-May, audiences have literally been jumping to their feet for standing ovations for the cast. Theatre critic Gary Aday of Washington County News called it "a work of great beauty and power." Critic Robert McKinney of the Bristol Herald Courier wrote, "In more than two decades of reviewing Barter plays I have never seen a musical that thrilled me more."

Now audiences can watch all 26 professional Barter actors performing with 30 professional musicians on one stage.

The story is set in early 19th-century France and opens with Jean Valjean (Pat McRoberts) serving 19 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread to save his sister's starving child. When he breaks parole, prison guard Javert (Rick McVey) vows to pursue him. Eventually Valjean turns from a life of crime to one of grace and forgiveness.

The first collaboration between the two arts powerhouses came in 2011 when they produced "Cabaret." This kind of partnership just made sense to the two organizations, allowing for a truly spectacular event. Since Barter Theatre does not have the room to host a full orchestra, productions at main stage feature a six-piece orchestra in the pit, led by music director Lee Harris.

Music is a core piece of "Les Mis" and moving the production to a larger venue that can accommodate a full orchestra will take this classic show to another level. With such a strong musical energy, the emotions the actors portray will create a stronger, more dramatic impact on the audience.

All the songs will be included in the Barter/Symphony production including "I Dreamed a Dream," "On My Own," "Who Am I?" and "One Day More."

To celebrate this occasion, Barter and the Symphony are hosting two special events: a cocktail reception following the performance Friday Aug. 16 at the Reid Center and a special dinner with key Les Mis cast members Saturday Aug. 17 beginning with cocktails at 4:30 p.m. at Meadowview Convention Center.

For tickets and more information, visit SymphonyoftheMountains.org or call (423) 392-8423. For behind-the-scenes information and an introduction to the cast and collaborators, visit BarterDoesLesMis.com.