The film version lands in theaters Christmas Day: Les Miserables on the big screen with an all-star cast. But Children’s Musical Theater San Jose director Kevin Hauge hopes audiences will also experience the Tony Award-winning live rendition of Victor Hugo’s epic story of justice, redemption and love as part of his company’s 45th anniversary celebration.

It was no small feat to obtain rights to the full Broadway version, Hauge says. Never before has the show come to a South Bay stage and only three other theater companies in the country were granted rights this season to produce the full-length version.
“It’s a perfect time to see this the way it’s meant to be,” Hauge says, “in person, in 3-D, up close.” In short, the way 60 million people around the world have witnessed the longest-running musical in theater history for the past 27 years.

The San Jose production will be brought to life by alumni of one of the most prestigious children’s theater companies in the nation.
The theatrical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s colossal novel follows the now-familiar story, set in 19th-century France, of fugitive Jean Valjean and the policeman Javert who relentlessly pursues him. It is a tale of youthful love and a nation’s bloody revolution.

Les Miserables is a perfect show for a wide variety of people,” says Hauge, ticking off the reasons: “It’s epic, it’s got battle, it’s got guns, it’s got love, it’s got thievery, it’s got something for everybody.”

Audiences will hear orchestral versions of some vey familiar songs: “On My Own,” “Stars,” “One More Day” and the moving, Grammy Awardwinning “I Dreamed a Dream.” Picking up the theme, Adam Scott Campbell, who plays Valjean, says, “Being part of this production is a dream come true. It’s the greatest musical ever written, and I can’t think of a better company to produce this.”

Campbell became a CMT actor when he was 12. Now, at 30, he’s part of the company’s adult alumni group, Marquee Productions. He is appearing in Les Miserables while on hiatus from a full-time career in musical theater.

“For them to call and invite me to come sing for this was a huge honor,” says Campbell, who toured nationally as part of the Broadway cast of Jesus Christ Superstar. “I’ve known Kevin for most of my life. This is like a reunion for me.”

It’s also a chance to prove he’s better than some Hollywood heartthrob, he adds jokingly.  “My claim is that Hugh Jackman continues to steal my thunder first as Wolverine and now this,” he quips.

Like Campbell, many of the 40-member cast of CMT grads are coming from out of town—two have flown in from New York for a month, one from L.A. and others from around the Bay Area. “It’s an opportunity to re-engage in the community they group up in,” Hauge explains. “Many of them are professional actors; they’re all giving us quality work.”

Hauge, who’s been with CMT for 18 years, has fostered a relationship with Musical Theatre International, which holds the license for Les Mis. That’s rare for a children’s theater company. “We get rights to productions like this because we’re known for putting on quality shows,” Hauge says.

A lot of pressure comes with accepting the license to perform a Broadway version of a famous musical, Hauge acknowledges. But CMT has earned the trust, he adds, and its performers stand up to the task.

“Of course we accepted without hesitation,” he wrote to CMT members upon news of obtaining the rights. “It is an honor to have our artistic integrity acknowledged on such a grand scale. Anyone in this industry knows the powerful vocals, the heartfelt acting and the complex staging this show requires.”

He’s had a fair bit of practice, too. In 2006, CMT produced the student version of Les Mis. All the actors had to be younger than 18, and certain scenes were edited out for length. It was put on by CMT’s younger troupe, the Mainstage division of all-teen performers.

Audiences looking for a more personal experience will enjoy seeing locally grown talent act Les Mis on the historic Montgomery Theater stage.

“It does in fact resonate in a more intimate theater,” Hauge says. “Learning how to make the most of that wonderful building and that stage, which has almost no backstage whatsoever, has made this an interesting challenge and that’s made the show, famous as it is, uniquely our own.”

Les Miserables
Montgomery Theater
Nov. 30 – Dec. 9