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Posted: April 16, 2013 8:50 p.m.

‘Les Miserables’ opening

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With a cast of more than 100 strong, the Oxford Youth Singers are mounting the epic musical “Les Miserables.” The show runs Thursday and Friday, April 18 and 19, at 7 p.m., with a Sunday matinée performance April 21 at 3 p.m. at Porter Auditorium on Newton County High School’s campus.

The classic play based on Victor Hugo’s novel is a departure from last year’s production of “Grease.” OYS director Mary Lynn Luke felt her performers were ready to delve into something weightier.

“We have some very vocally advanced and mature musicians, and we felt they were up to the challenge of doing a 2.5 hour opera,” she said.

“We knew the movie was coming out and people would be familiar with the story and be able to follow it.”

Playing the leads are Christian Speeler as Jean Valjean, the former prisoner who breaks his parole, but despite his best attempts to live honorably, can’t fully escape his past or the long memory of Inspector Javert, played by Spencer Kelley.

Mary Lathem is Fantine, a former factory employee of Valjean’s who turns to unsavory work to support Cosette, the daughter she sends away. Julianna Laseter plays the grown-up Cosette, and Oxford Singing Children’s Miranda Johnson plays the adolescent version. Cosette’s love Marius, is played by Sam Potts. Rounding out the remarkable production is an impressive chorus of convicts, beggars, sailors, schemers, French Revolutionaries and ladies of the night.

“There is some mature content, but the storyline and message of the show — forgiveness, redemption and love — are the overriding themes they will take away from the theater,” said Luke.

Tickets are $15; $10 for senior citizens; and $5 students.

There will be a $2 additional fee for tickets purchased at the door. Reserve or purchase tickets by phone at 770-786-8188 or online newtoncountyarts.org or at the Arts Association office at 1106 Washington St., just off the square.

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