ST. GEORGE — It all started with two women over a cup of coffee and their teenagers’ passion for theater. It was summer of 2020 and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic had shut down many things, including theaters large and small.
The children of Tara Griffith and Amy Stover had both been planning to perform on stage with Tuacahn during their 2020 season and had found themselves without a show or a place to share their talents and creative energy when the season was canceled.
Some community theaters, working under strict COVID-19 protocols, began to reopen, but there simply weren’t enough roles for all the myriad talented youth in the area who wanted to participate in a production.
Stover and Griffith soon teamed up with another mother, Abigail Pearson, and together the three moms came up with a plan … produce their own show.
In the summer of 2020, they secured the rights to Disney’s “The Lion King Jr.,” which played to nearly 900 people all while under strict COVID safety procedures.
Now the three women, along with a strong production team, are opening their second production, “Les Misérables: School Edition,” on Thursday at the Electric Theater in St. George.
And, they said, audiences will be surprised at the level of talent these actors, ages 9 and up exhibit on stage.
Geoffrey Reynolds, the show’s musical director, said the music is generally made for adult voices so it has been a really good experience for the young actors to be able to sing professional quality music, adapted to their age group.
Reynolds, who is a Dixie State University instructor, director of the school’s Raging Red performance group and a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, said the kids were more than up to the challenge.
“They’re super talented, they have risen to the occasion very well,” Reynolds said.
Director A.J. Sullivan, who has spent nearly 30 years directing and producing live theater and events, including shows on Broadway, sees the show as a great opportunity for the youth to have an educational theater experience and bring a big show to the stage.
“It’s fun trying to create such a massive show,” Sullivan said, adding that it has been great to work with the young cast and teach them to really emote and create a fully realized show.
“The kids are really good,” he added. “They’re really in tune with these characters.”
As the curtain is set to rise, both Griffith and Pearson expressed gratitude for their production team and the level of commitment and generosity they have felt from the theater community as they have navigated the COVID-19 restrictions and the time and money it takes to produce a show.
“The key to any kind of success we might experience is purely due to the dedication of every single person on the team,” Pearson said. “And to just be able to get super talented people has been so amazing.”
“Les Misérables: School Edition” opens Thursday at the Electric Theater, 68 E. Tabernacle in St. George, and will run Thursday-Saturday at 7 p.m., Monday at 7 p.m. and Jan. 21-23 at 7 p.m. with matinees both Saturdays at 2 p.m.
Masks are required and limited seats will be sold to accommodate social distancing.
“I think audiences will be surprised at the level of talent, and I think they’ll be surprised at how well the show is put together and to see such high quality,” Reynolds said.
- What: “Les Misérables: School Edition.”
- When: Thursday-Saturday, Jan. 14-16, Monday, Jan. 18, Thursday-Saturday, Jan. 21-23, 7 p.m.; Saturday matinees, 2 p.m.
- Where: The Electric Theater, 68 E. Tabernacle, St. George.
- Cost: $15. Group discounts available by calling 435-414-0049.
- Purchase tickets: Online.
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