NICEVILLE — When the curtain rises on "Les Misérables" next month, the sets and costumes’ grandeur will only hint at the scope of effort that went into them.
Staging one of the world's most renowned musicals takes a preproduction effort as sweeping in scale as the show itself.
Since December, a group of crewmembers — including Fine and Performing Arts Division students, staff and volunteers — has been creating the Northwest Florida State College summer musical.
The set crew, under scenic design coordinator Clint Mahle’s direction, is constructing a major set piece consisting of an elaborate bridge flanked by two buildings on either side. Mahle will play Javert, the play’s primary antagonist.
Audrey Bailey, 78, one of the set crew volunteers, has volunteered backstage and as head usher since 1996.
“There is going to be a lot more detail in the 'Le Mis' set than we’ve ever done before,” she said.
As Mahle, Bailey and the crew hammer at $8,000 worth of lumber and carefully hand-apply 35 gallons of paint, in the costume shop, costume designer Jennifer Boudette and her assistants cut fabric and sew almost 200 costumes.
Designing and assembling each costume for the 42-person cast is as intricate a process as constructing Mahle and theatre technical supervisor Bob Whittaker's bridge set.
“There’s a lot of nuts and bolts to it," Boudette said. "It’s one thing to come up with an idea, but you have to figure out how that’s going to translate and you have to figure out how to put that together.”
NWFSC student Nate Beechum, one of Boudette's assistants, said his favorite part of the costume process is learning how all the pieces work together.
“You can cut fabric all day,” he said, “but it’s important to get the knowledge of each technique used in every garment.”
With a seven-night run, "Les Misérables" will be the college's longest-running summer musical.
Want to go?
Northwest Florida State College presents "Les Misérables" July 17-20 and 25-27 at the Mattie Kelly Fine and Performing Arts Center. Admission costs $27 for adults, $22 for youth 18 and younger. Currently enrolled NWFSC students may request one free ticket per student ID in person at the box office. Call 729-6000 or visit www.mattiekellyartscenter.org.
Contact News Bulletin Arts & Entertainment Editor Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.