'Les Mis' featuring local talent

By Lynn R. Parks

Dominic Anthony had no intention of auditioning for a part in Possum Point Players' upcoming production of "Les Miserables." He was only at the players' hall near Georgetown because his two older sisters, Ariella and Sambina, were trying out for parts.

But the people running the auditions convinced him to give it a go. And he landed one of the musical's main roles, that of Gavroche, the street urchin who hangs out with the rebels and who is shot dead by French soldiers.

"He started singing and I just could hardly believe it," said Ariella, who is part of the musical's ensemble. "He would never sing for us at home and I thought, 'Is that voice really coming out of him?'"

Dominic, 12, Sambina, 14, and Ariella, 16, are the children of Harry and Thiele Anthony. They are among seven Seaford-area people who are in the cast. Others are Barbara Baltz-Logan, Anthony Policastro, Rick Trice and Pat Erhardt.

"Les Mis," as it is popularly known, is based on the novel by 19th-century author Victor Hugo. It tells the story of Jean Valjean, an ex-convict who becomes a force for good in the world but who struggles to escape his criminal past. Characters in the musical include Javert, a policeman who obsessively tracks Valjean; Fantine, a young woman who eventually turns to prostitution to raise money to support her daughter, Cossette; Marius, a lawyer who falls in love with Cossette; and Monsieur and Madame Thenardier, innkeepers and general no-goods. Popular songs include "I Dreamed a Dream," "Master of the House," "Bring Him Home," "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" and the rousing "Do You Hear the People Sing?"

"Les Miserables" was first performed in Paris in 1980, in London in 1985 and on Broadway in 1987. It closed on Broadway in 2003, reopened in 2006 and closed again in 2008. In March, the script was released for regional theaters; Possum Point Players is the first troupe on Delmarva to perform the musical.

Another Broadway revival is set to open in March 2014. A film version of the musical was released in 2012.

The members of the Possum Point Players cast acknowledge that "Les Mis," which runs a little more than three hours, is not an easy musical to perform. "The harmonies are tough," Policastro said.

But they add that the cast, all-volunteer and all from Delmarva, is up to the challenge.

"We have assembled the greatest collection of talent in Sussex County," said Erhardt, who plays seven roles, including Claquesous, a member of a gang of thugs assembled by Monsieur Thenardier. "We have people with great talent in this area, people who can sing, do dramatic performances and comedic performances." Erhardt gives a lot of credit for "Les Mis" to its director, Kenney Workman.

"He is amazing," he said. "He is able to match talent with roles, so that the actors just shine."

This is the first play in which Policastro, who like Erhardt plays a number of roles, has been in. While the doctor with Nemours duPont Pediatrics in Milford and Seaford sings and plays tambourine with the musical group the Vital Signs, he has always wanted to be part of a stage production.

And what prompted him to audition for this one? "It's my favorite musical," he said, simply.

Baltz-Logan has been in two other musicals, "White Christmas" and "Curtains." Like Policastro, she first joined the Players because wanted hitting the boards was on her bucket list. "But once you are a part of it, the Possum Point Players family gets a hold of you and won't let you go," she said.

The Possum Point production is set for three weekends, Sept. 20 through 22, Sept. 27 through 29 and Oct. 4 through 6. Possum Hall holds just 200 people, Erhardt said. "We suggest that you get your tickets early before they sell out," he said.

Harry and Thiele Anthony, parents of the three young actors, have already followed that advice. "They've bought tickets for every performance," said Ariella. For all nine of them.

For your information: Possum Point Players will present the musical "Les Miserables" Sept. 20, 21 and 22, Sept. 27, 28 and 29, and Oct. 4, 5 and 6. Friday and Saturday performances will start at 7:30 p.m., Sunday performances will start at 2 p.m. Tickets are $23, $22 for senior citizens and students, and can be ordered at the website www.possumpointplayers.org (the preferred way) or by phone at 856-4560.

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