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“Les Miserables” musical to be hosted by Stage Notes July 9 through 12 at JCC

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WATERTOWN — Months of practice will soon pay off for the Stage Notes theater group, which will present the musical “Les Miserables” at 7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday at Jefferson Community College’s Sturtz Theater.

Tickets for the musical may be purchased at all Kinney Drugs locations in Watertown. Prices are $15 for adults and $12 for senior citizens. All proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the Watertown Urban Mission.

Stage Notes, a nonprofit theater production company, has been practicing since April to put on the musical, based on Victor Hugo’s classic novel. The group’s 18 students, from grades 7 through 12, have been coached by Stage Notes director Ticia K. Marra and Broadway professional Stanley J. Joseph, who volunteered to help direct the musical after meeting students in April at a theater workshop in New York City.

The 30-year-old Mr. Joseph has served as a music director, vocal coach and conductor for Broadway companies that have put on big shows, including “The Phantom of the Opera, “Wicked” and “Chicago.”

Thanks to fundraisers hosted during the spring and summer, Stage Notes has surpassed its fundraising goal of $20,000 for the production, Ms. Marra said. The budget includes the purchase of royalty rights, rental of the theater, scripts, vocal scores and costumes, along with the hiring of an orchestra and sound technician.

The group began rehearsing the musical in JCC’s theater last week and will host practices until Wednesday’s opening night, Ms. Marra said. She said she has watched students in the group build confidence and skills needed to put on a high-caliber performance for the community

“The set is beautiful, and they’ve worked really hard on it,” said Ms. Marra, who launched Stage Notes in 2009. “I think people are going to be really excited when they walk in and see what we’ve done at JCC. For the community, I hope we give them an entertaining, beautiful musical that makes them think and feel. I hope they see that we can really do theater in this area, and we need the community’s support to do it.”

Mr. Joseph has made the trip from New York City to Watertown multiple weekends to practice with the group, and he is now staying at Ms. Marra’s residence while he leads the group’s rehearsals. He said Wednesday that the students’ work ethic and drive to get better have been impressive.

“I think they’ve pushed themselves so hard that it’s going to set a new bar for educating students in theater,” he said. “I would take any of these kids and bring them back to New York City to have them audition for any show that I’ve worked on. Anyone can learn steps, notes and lines — that’s the easy part. The hard part is finding the internal motivation and drive to want to put in nine to 11 hours a day, seven days a week. They’ve all shown that they have that. I think the kids feed off each other, and it’s such a positive and supportive vibe.”

Mr. Joseph, who teaches theater workshops for high school students offered by Broadway.com in New York City, said that the most rewarding part of teaching the Stage Notes group has been watching students gain confidence as performers.

“Some of the kids started off a little more quiet, or reserved and scared, and now I see them step on the stage and are fearless,” he said. “I had a student who came up to me on stage and said, ‘Thank you, I think I have a future in this.’ That’s what I do this for.”

Along with supporting the Watertown Urban Mission, community theater-goers will be treated to a Broadway-caliber performance by the group, Mr. Joseph said.

“I think that the community deserves this production and to see the countless hours that the kids put into this,” he said.

For more on Stage Notes and the production, follow the group on Facebook by searching for “StageNotesWatertown,” and on Twitter at @StageNotesWatn or visit the group’s website at www. stagenoteswatertown.org.

THE DETAILS

WHAT: “Les Miserables will be presented by Stage Notes at 7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday at Jefferson Community College’s Sturtz Theater

TICKETS: Tickets are available at all Kinney Drugs in Watertown. They are $15, or $12 for senior citizens. All proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the Watertown Urban Mission.

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