Weather perfect at Stella Olsen Park for performances

Photo Credit: COURTESY OF HEATHER GIFFORD - The revolutionaries react to their  unsuccessful rebellion in the streets of Paris during Thursday's production of 'Les Miserables' in Stella Olsen Park.“Les Misérables” became a Sherwood box office sensation July 24 through 26, with tickets selling out far ahead of schedule. After purchasing the rights from Music Theatre International to sell 600 more tickets, the Sherwood Foundation for the Arts sold out again within 48 hours.

“It’s become the most successful show we’ve ever brought to Sherwood,” said artistic director Leslie Goyette. “It’s a beautiful tale, and I’m so honored to be the director that got to bring it here.”

Local talent from Sherwood and the surrounding Portland metro area captivated audiences each night of the performance.

In the end, out of the 112 auditioning actors and actresses, 37 people were selected to become the spectacular cast.

“I would put my cast... up against any professional, touring Broadway version of Les Mis,” Goyette said.

The production not only showcased local volunteer talent in everything from acting and music to costume and technical design, but its rigorous rehearsal schedule resulted in a tight-knit cast.

Photo Credit: COURTESY OF HETHER GIFFORD - Nathan Doyel, center, who portrays Jean Valjean, is congratulated for saving an old man from death in Thursday's performance of ' Les Miserables.'
“There’s a special bonding that you have in theater that is unlike anything else,” Goyette said. “You really do become a family.”

Following the Sherwood Foundation for the Arts’ more lighthearted productions, many were skeptical about the community’s reception of Les Misérables. Due to the serious content of the story, some openly opposed bringing the show to Sherwood.

As the first touring professional show she had ever seen, “Les Misérables” holds a special place in Goyette’s love for theater that encouraged her to persevere despite reoccurring difficulties.

“Something told me, I had to tell this tale, I have to bring this to Sherwood,” she said.

Challenges included illnesses and injuries as well as occupational and personal conflicts for cast and crew.

“Backup plan became our modus operandi,” said production manager Marie Johnson.

Both Goyette and Johnson learned to think and work outside the box.

Photo Credit: COURTESY OF HEATHER GIFFORD - Fantine, portrayed by Sarah Kelley, comforts Jean Valjean (Nathan Doyel) during the last moments of his life in the Sherwood Foundation for the Pereforming Arts' production of  'Les Miserables' in July.Due to scheduling conflicts, previous rehearsal venues could not be used by the cast. The show’s salvation came from the police station and three local churches, which allowed the cast to rehearse on their property.

The crew succeeded in sharing with the community that “the story is about love, redemption, forgiveness, and God,” said Goyette. “There are cast members... streaming tears in the final number because it’s so beautiful.”

Goyette caught audience members crying as well during the last song, while Johnson noticed people on the edge of their lawn chairs for the entire show.

Photo Credit: COURTESY OF HEATHER GIFFORDFA - Fantine (Sarah Kelley), left and Cosette (Emily Robison) comfort Jean Valjean (Nathan Doyel) before his death as Marius (Paul Harestad) looks on.Each community production improves and expands on that of the previous year. Thanks to Johnson’s new organizational schedule, deadlines were met months ahead of time for “Les Misérables.”

At the performances in Stella Olsen Park, SweetStory Bakery sold treats and donated 50 percent of the proceeds to the Sherwood Foundation for the Arts.

“We’ve been involved with stuff in the community since day one of opening up the store,” said Michele Howard, head pastry chef and owner of SweetStory. “Everybody’s been so supportive of us... that we just enjoy giving back.”

The production’s premier sponsors included Pacific Family Dental, the city of Sherwood, Sentinel Self-Storage and Parrett Mountain Builders, along with an extensive collection of supporting and contributing sponsors, also deserve thanks for bringing this dream to life, according to show officials.

Photo Credit: COURTESY OF HEATHER GIFFORD - Javert, portrayed by Matthew Flanagan promises to bring Jean Valjean (Nathan Doyel) back to justice in July's performance of  'Les Miserables.'“For all the effort that has been put into this show it would have been nice to do two weekends,” Johnson said. “Or open the new community center with it.... It would be an interesting thing to pursue if there were cast members that could come back and do it.”

No promises, but perhaps Sherwood has yet to see the last of “Les Misérables.”

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