Mounds View Theatre offers first local “Les Mis”

The revolutionaries prepare to fight to the death in the Mounds View Community Theatre production of “Les Miserables.” (photos by Heather Edwards/Bulletin)

Jean Valjean, played by Lorin Yenor, expresses rage after years of being falsely imprisoned. 

Hazen Markoe and Tina Brauer offer comic relief as Thenardier and Mme. Thenardier. Brauer is a resident of New Brighton. 

A young Cosette (played by Sophie Kuether) sings of a castle in the clouds during Mounds View Community Theatrés production of “Les Misérables.”

“Les Mis” fans, rejoice; for the first time, a non-professional Minnesota theatre is presenting “Les Misérables.”

Until recently, the production rights for the wildly popular musical were exclusive to professional theatre companies. When the rights were released  to non-professional theatre groups this year,  the Mounds View Community Theatre (MVCT) was the first to obtain those rights.

“I was just really impressed that Mounds View took that leap of faith,” said New Brighton resident Tina Brauer, who plays Mme. Thenardier.

“We paid dearly for (the rights),” noted MVCT Board of Directors Planning and Development Chair Sally Cameron.

But the gamble paid off when both professional and non-professional actors flocked to MVCT. The professional actors happily volunteered their time and performances.

“They were just excited to be part of it,” said Oakdale resident Kim Sykes, who plays numerous small roles in the production, and as the music director at South St. Paul High School directed a student version of “Les Mis” last year.

“This is one of the most talented casts I have ever worked with,” she noted. “It will blow people away!”

“This cast is the cream of the crop, “ Brauer agreed.

However, the MVCT didn’t lose its roots as a community theatre available to actors young and old. “It was a great way for student actors to experience that next level,” said Cameron. “They were able to learn from the best the Twin Cities has to offer.”

But the production- lovingly referred to as “Les Mis” by its legions of fans- comes with unique challenges.  

“One challenge that always comes with ‘Les Mis’ is achieving absolute accuracy of rhythms and entrances, since it is a sung-through musical,” Sykes said.

Another challenge included balancing the play’s heavy themes of revolution and poverty during the early 1800s in France with the lighter moments of the show.  Fortunately, the show offers comic relief through the characters of pickpocketing, unscrupulous innkeeper Thenardier (played by Hazen Markoe) and his outrageous wife, played by Brauer. “They’re both scoundrels,” she said. “They give some comic relief, which is ironic because they’re probably the most depressing of all the characters.”

 “Les Mise’rables” is the longest running musical of all time, debuting in 1980.  The MVCT has been around for nearly as long; they are celebrating their 30th year in operation.

Additional performances: July 17, 18,19, 24, 25, 26, 27 and 7 p.m. 2 p.m. matinees will be held July 20 and 28. All performances are held at the Irondale High School theater, 2425 Long Lake Road, in New Brighton.

Tickets are $18 for adults, $14 for seniors and students, and $8 for children six and  under. 

For more information, go to or call 651-638-2139.

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