When the 25th anniversary production of"Les Miserables" - which is heading to Broadway again after the success of the movie version - comes to Miami this week, it will be Fort Lauderdale's Trinity Wheeler calling the shots from backstage.
Wheeler, a Texas transplant (by way of Southern California) who's lived in Poinsettia Heights since 2005, is the road-tour stage manager of the Cameron Mackintosh musical based on the Victor Hugo novel.
"Stage managers are basically in charge of the whole experience, from the cast and the musicians to the crew," Wheeler says in a telephone interview. "We oversee the production. The creative team comes in and puts it all together, and then they leave and we are left to make sure the show moves, that we maintain the show the way they planned it. Basically, we look after their work."
He’s been doing so with "Les Miz" since 2010. But he’s quick to add that this version has been reimagined.
"[The creative team] sort of reinvented 'Les Miserables' for the 25th anniversary," Wheeler explains. "It still has the inspiration from the original … but it's new and told in a slightly new way. The orchestrations are new. The scenery is new. The style is more conversational than people will remember from the original. I think it opens up 'Les Miserables' to a whole new generation."
For this tour, and for the upcoming run on the Great White Way, the sets are inspired by Hugo's visuals. "There are projections and video that are inspired by his drawing and paintings. You really have to see it," Wheeler says. "His art really captures the essence of the period."
Wheeler says his favorite part of the show is the second act: "I love … how epic it becomes. When we get to the barricades, it’s just so exciting to see."
But the part that emotionally resonates with him — even into his third year with the musical — is "the prayer 'Bring Him Home.' It’s handkerchief time. Every time, it’s just like it just happened for the first time for me. It's just incredible."
"Les Miserables" plays through Sunday, March 3 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., in Miami. Shows are 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 2 p.m. matinee Saturday and Sunday, and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets start at $26. Call 305-949-6722 or go to ArshtCenter.org.
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