For the second time in three years, the Artistic Director of the Twilight Theatre, Alison Chambers of Peachtree City, brings Les Miserables: School Edition to the Frederick Brown Jr. Amphitheater in Peachtree City, July 16, 17,. 30, and 31 at 8 pm. Ms Chambers directs a cast of over 75 young performers in this Broadway favorite.
Ms. Chambers became interested in theater as a young girl. “I started playing the piano when I was 2 and singing shortly thereafter,” said Chambers. “Theatre was a logical progression from music. I started with musicals, but branched out into straight plays in my late teens.”
Local theater patrons will remember Alison Chambers as Maria in The Sound of Music, Laurie in Oklahoma, and Shelby in Steel Magnolias, among her many roles. “I am very fortunate to have parents who value the arts. They were always very encouraging of my music and did whatever they had to for me to be able to take lessons and perform. I even got them both on stage for the first time in Twilight's Sound of Music!
The opportunity to encourage young people's dreams strike a personal note for Chambers. “I almost quit theater altogether in high school because I had a director who told me, in front of a lot of people, that I had no talent and would never amount to anything. I'm glad I didn't listen. I think even back then the quickest way to get me to do something was to tell me I couldn't.”
Other teachers were more inspirational. “I also had some formidable teachers and directors over the years who took a young lady with very little self-confidence and taught me that with a lot of hard work, I could do anything. Music came naturally, but acting did not. It took me a very long time to start actually getting cast in shows, said Chambers.
“I kept working hard and was accepted to the FSU School of Music, one of the top 5 schools in the country. The big roles came after that. I think young people need to realize that you do have to work for these things,” continued Chambers. “ Even if it comes naturally to you, there's going to come a time when you're surrounded by others even more talented. You have to be willing to work hard and to keep going after failure to be in this business.”
Ms. Chambers, along with her parents Andy and Jeanne Chambers, and many friends and supporters helped start The Twilight Theatre in 2005. They wanted more local opportunities for Fayette County actors. “ When I came home from college, I was driving to Newnan, Fairburn, Henry County, and Atlanta to perform,” recalled Chambers. “Fayette County has an abundance of talent unlike anywhere I have ever seen, and yet we don't have a performing arts center to be the center-piece of local theater.”
Fayette County does have two beautiful Amphitheaters. Possibilities for outdoor theater became the inspiration for the name “The Twilight Theatre. According to Chambers, community theater creates opportunities for families to perform together. Les Miserables: School Edition features 12 families with 2 or more children or teens in the cast.
Many community and professional theater companies perform in small spaces. In contrast, The Frederick Brown, Jr. Amphitheater is the largest stage in Georgia hosting musical theater. Three years ago, Les Miserables became the most successful show ever produced by Twilight. At that point, Chambers decided to repeat the show as summer-stock every 3 years.
Les Miserables is a show that reaches people of all ages and on so many different levels through the powerful story and music,” explained Chambers. “It's universal. It touches people because it portrays the human plight, the longing for freedom, and the power of love so truthfully and, sometimes, brutally. It has its happy moments, of course, but it's not your everyday sappy musical. It draws you in, and you care deeply about these people.”
Working with so many young people can be a challenge, but Chambers thinks it's worth it. “I want to give more young people the chance to experience this show. It's not every day that people their age get to play the raw emotion, longing, and passion of Les Miserables. It's a challenge that really fosters growth as musicians and actors. I'm not being overly dramatic when I say it changes people.”
“ Cast members in the 2007 show sent me notes telling me how they grew, how they appreciated what they'd been given (in life), and, how they wouldn't be the same,” remembers Chambers. “Seeing that impact made me want to continue to introduce it to new generations. I hope this cast learns a lot and has fun (participating in summer-stock at the Fred) and I hope it creates beautiful memories for families.”
Tickets for Les Miserables, directed by Alison Chambers, are now on sale at Fred Box Office at 201 McIntosh trail in Peachtree City during regular business hours, or for an additional fee at www.TicketAlternatives.com Tables are only available through the Amphitheater box office. For more information go to www.thetwilighttheatre.com.