EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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October 24, 2013

Bring It Home!

They’ve been looking forward to performing this show for countless years and practicing for months, making sure each note is exactly on pitch. Finally this weekend the 80 members of the ACT Theater Company will bring the mother of all musicals to life.

The local nonprofit troupe opens the curtain on “Les Miserables” at the J. Everett Collins Center at Andover High School for three performances this weekend.

“There’s a buzz about this show,” said Cara Kennedy, a teacher at the Pike School in Andover who is in the production. “It’s a blockbuster.”

The company couldn’t even consider taking on the show until this year, because the rights to stage the play were off limits to adults. Even when they became available, only a handful of nonprofessional adult theater groups in the state were awarded the coveted scripts. Andover Community Theater was among the lucky few.

This isn’t the first time Andover has hosted a production of “Les Miserables,” however. Andover High School staged the story of redemption and love focusing on Jean Valjean in 2002 when the school was allowed the rights for the youth production.

It was a big show for Andover High at the time and it led to some great memories for the play’s director, Susan Leland-Smith Choquette, who is now the director of theater arts at Andover High.

“We staged it with a cast of future stars,” Leland-Smith Choquette said.

Kennedy, who graduated from Andover High in 2001, remembers the show and recalls dreamily thinking, “If I ever get the chance to be in that show ...” She’d jump at the chance, she meant.

Eleven years later, her wish is coming true.

The show features professionally designed sets and costumes, a 16-piece orchestra, a stirring score and a talented cast. It is by far the theater company’s biggest musical performance to date. Performers from all over New England have been attending long rehearsals since July.

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