Theater preview: Hale Centre's 'Les Miz' director has 'a dream cast'

Published: Saturday, Feb. 8 2014 3:30 p.m. MST

Casey Elliott, left, as Jean Valjean and Adam Dietlein as Javert in Hale Centre Theatre's "Les Misrables."

Hale Centre Theatre

WEST VALLEY CITY — Hale Centre Theatre is preparing to storm the barricades with “Les Misérables,” and the Deseret News interviewed the musical’s director, Dave Tinney. The show's scheduled run, Feb. 14 through April 19, is set to break Hale Centre Theatre's record for its single longest run of a show.

Q. According to estimates, 600 people auditioned for this production of “Les Misérables.” How did you respond to the casting process?

A. I had been told by the staff months before that there was a buzz surrounding the audition, but I had no idea it would bring the numbers of people and the quality of talent that it did. The talent was astounding! During our final callback, we had about 100 people standing in a circle around a room singing ‘At the End of the Day’ — which felt like an appropriate anthem after their weeklong audition process — and the producers, musical director and I stood in the middle of all of that sound. It literally knocked the wind out of me. It was this tsunami of sound and of passion for the material and of hope for being cast. It was unlike anything we had ever experienced.

Q. Each of the major “Les Misérables” characters has become iconic because of theatergoers’ familiarity with the musical. Despite the number of actors auditioning, how important was casting what audiences have come to expect in the actors in those roles versus your casting freedom as a director?

A. This is a great question. I thought a lot about those very things as I went into the process, and I decided the most important thing was to be true to the material. I have been immersed in the novel and have really tried to make my decisions based on that. The men we cast in the roles of Valjean and Javert are younger actors, but they fit the physicality and the energy that Victor Hugo describes. They also are brilliant singer/actors. I promise the audience will not be disappointed.

Q. Because directors bring their own insights to their productions, each “Les Misérables” staging takes on a unique approach to the material. What is your vision as a director for this production?

A. I guess my vision was pretty simple: Be true to the story and be true to the source material when possible. Staging the show in an arena setting has been challenging and exciting. I just want the story, the relationships of the characters and the message of redemption to be clear for the audience.

Q. While staging “Les Misérables” so far, what have you enjoyed most about the creative process?

A. I love the process of working with the actors. That collaboration is especially thrilling when you are surrounded by the A Team. Everyone came in day one so prepared, and that has allowed us time to really explore and dig into the material and characters. This cast has been a dream cast.

Q. With the movie version available, the major Broadway revival opening in March and the huge number of performances since its premiere, what would you say are the strongest reasons to see Hale Centre’s version?

A. Probably the most obvious difference is, unlike the film, you'll get to hear the songs sung beautifully. Additionally, with past productions done on a proscenium stage and even with the film, which I think did a beautiful job with staying true to the novel, the audience is still removed, a spectator. In this production, you are in the middle of the action. The show is happening just feet away from you in live 3-D. You are immersed in the battles. The gunfire is all around you. At the Hale, you are living in the show. It’s pretty thrilling.

If you go ...

What: “Les Misérables”

Where: Hale Centre Theatre, 3333 S. Decker Lake Drive, West Valley City

When: Feb. 14-April 19

How much: $32 for adults, $16 for children

Tickets: 801-984-9000 or hct.org

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