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Don't 'Mis' out

Capital District high school students have been given a rare opportunity.

Beginning Jan. 4, Cohoes Music Hall will be one of only two places the other being Broadway where audiences can catch aa stage performance of the Victor Hugo classic "Les Miserables." The difference is the Cohoes version features a local teen cast.

CR Productions, which puts on the twice-annual children's productions, has gone all out for this one. Local teenagers from 20 different area high schools will be able to attempt the feat that is a full-blown "Les Miserables" production, from the mid-production costume changes to the revered turntable set.

"We were very lucky to get 'Les Mis.' We wouldn't have gotten this for our professional production because it's on Broadway," said Jim Charles, CR Productions' artistic director. "This is the only other opportunity for people to see 'Les Mis' other than Broadway."

If October's casting call turnout is any indication, chances are the actors and actresses in the show know how rare the opportunity is as well.

When the call went out, 250 children showed up at the music hall's doors, only 30 were chosen for the production, said Charles. Many of those that show up are aspiring professionals, who commit themselves 100 percent to their pursuit, he said. It shows when they set foot on stage.

Just like their professional counterparts on Broadway, the cast does not use microphones, instead relying on the music hall's acoustics to carry their voices to the audience. The production is as real as it gets, down to the set and professional orchestra.

That professionalism is what is expected of CR Productions, and it's what brings hundreds of children each year to try out for their productions. It is also the reason it wasn't a surprise that so many turned up for casting call upon hearing the production this winter was 'Les Mis.' Because of the production's costs and size, no school will go near it. For many high school age students, this is their best shot at performing in the show.

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