Winnipeg Free Press Newspaper Archives Apr 30 2015, Page 29

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Winnipeg Free Press (Newspaper) - April 30, 2015, Winnipeg, Manitoba C M Y K PAGE C3 D O you hear the people sing? That stirring anthem is almost audible all the way from Flin Flon, where the mega- musical Les Misérables opens May 1, at the R. H. Channing Auditorium. It’s been 15 years since Crystal Kolt dreamed a dream of the people of the northern mining outpost creating their own production of Les Misérables , one the largest and most successful franchises in the history of musical theatre. Every year Kolt, the artistic director of the Flin Flon Community Choir, would make the call to New York City and launch into her pitch to pry the rights to Les Misérables out of licenceholder Music Theatre International. And every year she was refused — like every other professional and amateur troupe — owing to the unprecedented success of the stage spectacle on Broadway, in London and on tour. Her persistence left her on a firstname basis with the agent. “ My feeling was always, ‘ Why not?’” she said recently over the telephone. “ I told them it was ridiculous. I didn’t think I would live long enough to see Les Misérables in Flin Flon.” Over the years, the ambitious 80- voice choir made do with presenting other big- name musicals such as Titanic, Chicago and Fiddler on the Roof, but the 30- year- old Alain Boublil/ Claude- Michel Schoneberg musical, based on Victor Hugo’s epic tale of redemption, was Kolt’s must- have. “ Les Misérables , for me, is the holy grail of musicals,” she says. This year, she made the call again and was directed to apply online; a day later, she was informed by email the community choir had been granted the rights. “ I called New York immediately and did a little ‘ whoo- whoo’ and thanked them,” she recalls. “ I still don’t know why we got them.” The coup was announced locally last June at a get- together of about 80 theatre- lovers, who were watching the Tony Awards on a big- screen TV at Johnny’s Social Club. On an easel sat an envelope with the words, “ The next Flin Flon musical theatre production is ....” A black curtain was pulled away to reveal a Les Misérables poster. “ Everyone gasped,” says Kolt. “ I mean, we have been hoping for it for such a long time. Then we passed around the lyrics to The People’s Song and sang our hearts out.” Kolt thought Flin Flon might have the distinction of hosting the most northern Les Mis ever produced, but she has since learned of presentations in Reykjavik and Anchorage. “ That blows our north- of- the- 54th parallel out of the dust,” she says. “ Never thought that I would wish that I was further north.” Kolt estimates that about 2,000 of Flin Flon’s population of 5,000 will either see Les Misérables , perform in it or offer their skills behind the scenes. The three performances this weekend have been sold out for weeks. With the price tag at $ 50,000 — the town’s arts council works on an annual budget of $ 21,000 — organizers had to work their fundraising muscles hard. A tag day in March when it was - 30 C and an evening of Broadway music helped fill the coffers. Every year, Kolt and town officials have attempted to raise the bar on the quality of the shows. For Les Misérables, they decided to go all- out for the first time and bring in a professional director, Winnipeg’s Ann Hodges. “ We needed a director who would realize that, yes, we are technically an amateur company, but at the same time know we don’t want to do anything that people would think is amateur,” she says. “ We want to present something professional. It’s because I believe everyone here deserves that. People know what quality is like.” . . . Theatre by the River will launch its 10th anniversary season May 1 with its annual Wine & Words fundraiser at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. This is the fifth edition of the company’s pairing of tasty wines with the nouveau writings of Canadian authors. TBTR is partnering this year with the WAG, which just opened Olympus: The Greco- Roman Collection of Berlin . The exhibit is also the subject matter for the writers who sent in new stories or works in progress. “ Some pieces were inspired by Greek gods or art in general or are set in museums and art galleries,” says TBTR artistic director Mel Marginet. “ The writers were allowed to take that subject and run with it.” There are 15 submissions, including ones from Toronto playwriting darling Hannah Moscovitch and Governor General’s Award- winning dramatist Jordan Tannahill, storyteller Leigh- Anne Kehler and University of Manitoba professor George Toles. The submissions will be read by members of the theatre/ arts community, such as Rainbow Stage artistic director Ray Hogg, actress Pat Hunter, playwright Ian Ross, Nan Fewchuk and Solomund MacPherson. Tickets are $ 30 ($ 20 of which goes to TBTR) for an event that provides a crucial financial lifeline to the professional independent theatre. “ For us, it’s extremely important,” Marginet says. “ We don’t receive any operational funding. So we have no staff. We have to fundraise 100 per cent for anything we need.” TBTR debuted in 2006 with The Comedy of Errors on the riverbank in Assiniboine Park and has produced 18 other plays, the last pair being Cock and Bull in repertory last September. The first show of its 10th season is Simon Stephen’s one- man show, Sea Wall, to be presented during the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival in July. “ It’s great reaching this milestone, because you get to look where you were 10 years ago,” Marginet says. “ We were just coming out of our training in our early 20s and trying to find our place. I couldn’t have imagined then where we are today.” kevin. prokosh@ freepress. mb. ca Make Your FOR SS A G UU REA MM T MMEERR!! CASE * wines are sold in case lots of 12, 750ml bottles. See web site for details. Get ready for summer with Bottle & Cork wines! Bottle & Cork offers great wines from around the world. Mix and match your favourites all in one case. Simply fill ‘ em, cork ‘ em and take ‘ em home for only $ 6.39/ bottle.* Bottle & Cork wines are perfect for the cottage, weddings, BBQs and patio parties. Kenaston Crossing Liquor Mart, 1650 Kenaston Blvd. Northdale Shopping Centre Liquor Mart, 965 Henderson Hwy. ® ™ Trademarks of AIR MILES International Trading B. V. Used under license by LoyaltyOne, Co. and Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation. Please drink responsibly. ® LiquorMarts. ca up town WINNIPEG FREE PRESS œ THURSDAY, APRIL 30, 2015 3 ¥ theatre BY KEVIN PROKOSH Northern exposure Flin Flon musical fans no longer Les Misérables after troupe finally gets rights to stage Broadway behemoth DANIEL DILLON PHOTO After 15 years of applying, the Flin Flon Community Choir was finally successful in getting the rights to perform Les Misérables. C_ 03_ Apr- 30- 15_ FP_ 01. indd C3 4/ 29/ 15 3: 20: 41 PM

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