12th May 2016
Musical Theatre students at York College have undertaken police riot training in preparation for their final year performance of Les Misérables at the College’s Alan Ayckbourn Theatre (25th – 27th May 2016).
The student cast visited the West Yorkshire Police Training Centre in Wakefield to participate in mock riots, in a controlled environment, including a double-decker bus being destroyed in the process. The students said the experience felt real and ‘super-scary’.
Musical Theatre tutor and director of the production Carla Starkey says: “The riot training gave the Musical Theatre students a taste of the atmosphere of a modern day barricade. They can directly apply the feelings and emotions of having real police running towards them to the Les Misérables scenes. We also took some Backstage Arts students with us, who have taken inspiration from the backing track of real riots played in the training, for effects on stage at college. It has really intensified their performance to an exceptional standard.”
Based on the classic novel, Les Misérables, by Victor Hugo, Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg’s musical is unusually set in a fictitious northern English town, rather than in France. The themes resonate with social issues currently happening in the UK that students can identify with. Says Carla: “The same revolutionary themes are there with a modern slant on the story. We wanted to update the issues to highlight political issues the students were passionate about, these include student loan cuts and zero hour job contracts.”
Josh Eldridge-Smith, age 20, formerly of Malton School, plays Jean Valjean, the infamous prisoner who breaks parole and is hunted down by Javert (played by 19 year old Owen Williams). Josh says: “I am enjoying playing this challenging role and it’s been a lovely way to round off my studies at York College. All of the tutors are amazing at nurturing passion and talent within students and the Musical Theatre course at York College has helped me to prepare for drama school auditions. I am delighted to have secured a place at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland to study a BA (Hons) in Musical Theatre in September.”
Performances are at 1.30pm and 7.00pm on Wednesday 25th, Thursday 26th and Friday 27th May. Tickets are available from York College tel: 01904 770495.
The School Edition of Les Misérables is specially adapted and licensed by Music Theatre International and Cameron Mackintosh.