The 2022 Waverly High School Musical, Les Misérables

The 2022 Waverly High School Musical, Les Misérables

Ayla Peden

It was a cloudy October afternoon when I asked both of our music directors, Hunter John and Zack Ross, if they would join me for a quick interview over our school’s upcoming musical, Les Misérables. Mr. Ross was preparing music for the upcoming football game whereas Mr. John was just finishing up with a successful rehearsal. I was given a chair by each and asked to sit down.

I started my interview with Mr. Ross where we talk the process that he will go through to make the music the best that it can be, as well as talking about his own experiences playing and conducting an orchestra.


Q: What process will you go through to prepare the music for Les Mis?

A: The first step will be to gather the musicians. With such a grand production comes a grand orchestra. There will be people who volunteer so we will start with them. We will then have to reach out a bit further than Waverly to find some of the string players. In the past, we have asked people from Chillicothe or some people locally who have recommended people who play the violin, cello, viola. Next, we will hand the music books out so they can start practicing on their own. Then, starting in early January, we’ll start meeting with just the orchestra. We will start by reading through the whole show and figuring out what the most challenging songs are going to be.

Through the next few months, up until the show, we’ll work on the difficult pieces; usually, I leave the more simplistic songs up to the musicians to work on their own. The big thing with this is to then time it up with the singing. About two-to-three weeks out from the show, we’ll start meeting with the singers just in the band room, where the orchestra practices, then when the show is about a week out, we will move into the pit and line the music up with the singing on the stage.


Q: Have you ever conducted or played in an orchestra for a show on this grand of a scale?

A: I’d say the musical that comes the closest, that I have played in, would have to be West Side Story. As far as conducting, the closest musical that I have conducted was the Sound of Music.


It was implied, by Mr. Ross, that many people will be needed for this year’s musical; even more so than in previous years.


Later that same day, I met with Mr.John in the choir room. We discussed his reasoning behind picking Les Mis, how he plans to prepare for the task of directing, how the audition process will work, the number of people needed to bring this show to life, and Mr. John’s background on the musical itself.

Q: Why did you pick Les Misérables?

A: So, I picked Les Mis because last year we were very restricted to what we could do for a musical so, we had to go with something small and that meant something not as well known to the community. This year we wanted to bounce back and do something bigger and better than anything before so, we went with Les Miserables which is going to be a big crowd-pleaser to get the community involved with the music program here.


Q: How will you prepare to direct such an extensive musical?

A: So, with Les Mis specifically, it will change up my process a bit. If you know, Les Mis is a completely sung show. That means there are no speaking lines in it whatsoever. So, at the very beginning of our rehearsal process, we will front-load all of the music so that within two-to-three weeks, we have the entire show learned music-wise. Then from there, we will go into the staging of the main ensemble scenes and the other characters within that as well.


Q: How will the audition process work?

A: So, the audition process will not be as involved as last year, meaning that there were monologues, acting, as well as choreography to go along with it. With this show, there will be minimal choreography and no speaking lines so, it will only be a sung audition. Students will prepare one song from the show, and I will be handing out those songs in about a month or so; the end of October or early November, and they will just sing and act out the character of that song. From there we will have callbacks, which means we will ask people to come back and try out different roles to see where we can fit people and how we plan to make the cast come alive with that. The callbacks will have other, more in-depth pieces such as duets, trios, quartets even, with those callback pieces so, it will be more difficult than the initial audition.


Q: How many people will be needed?

A: A lot. There will be a lot needed. When I was in it, our cast was about 60, but that was a much bigger school. So, I’m thinking that the number of cast members needed will be around 40-45, but crewmembers will have to be around 20-25 to do the technology, stage movements, props, and set pieces as well. And then the numerous amounts of community volunteers that we can get that can help feed the cast, help with ticket sales, advertise, and set building is a big part, which is done every Saturday.


Q: Have you ever been involved with this production before?

A: I was in Les Mis. It was my Freshman year of high school back in 2012. This was the first musical I had ever been in. I was only a part of the ensemble because it was my freshman year and my first musical.


Auditions for Les Mis will be held on December 13 and 14. Callbacks are currently scheduled for December 15. Any additional questions about this year’s musical can be answered by Mr. John.