Preparing for the spring musical takes months of rehearsals to learn choreography and lyrics. It’s hard work for the entire cast, especially the leads. Seniors Andrew Bittenbender and Kaleb Dunn are committed to putting on a quality spring musical here – and at Sacred Heart Academy in Louisville. Andrew is reprising his role of Jean Valjean in SHA’s production of Les Miserables, which debuts this weekend. Kaleb is Javier, Valjean’s nemesis. In the PHS production of Jesus Christ Superstar, Andrew will portray Judas, and Kaleb, Caiaphas.
Andrew played Valjean last year and tried out for the role at SHA after his girlfriend told him the all-girls school was looking for male students to audition. Having played the role previously certainly helps him prepare, especially since he is rehearsing for two shows, but the SHA show is an updated version and some of the lyrics have changed. He also had to learn new staging.
It also helps that neither role has spoken lines to memorize, Andrew said. Les Mis is a sung-through musical, and Jesus Christ Superstar is a rock opera. The rehearsals are generally at different times, with PHS rehearsals after school for now, and SHA’s in the evening – but just a half hour in between. And the show will be presented over the first two weekends of our spring break, when the Superstar cast is on break.
Kaleb portrayed the bishop in last year’s Les Mis, so learning the lead role required more work. But the most challenging part was playing a role opposite his personality – in both shows.
“I’m a go-with-the-flow type person, so trying to figure out how to come across perpetually angry was hard,” he said.
But portraying that emotion in Javier does help him prepare for Jesus Christ Superstar in his role as the high priest.
“They’re both authoritative and angry with everyone,” he said.
Kaleb and Andrew said they have enjoyed working with the SHA cast and look forward to the show this weekend. For Kaleb, he likes the chance to meet new people. Here, he’s worked with the cast and gone to class with them throughout high school. But the SHA cast includes actresses from that school and actors from several other schools.
“It’s a pretty interesting group of people that got together for this show,” Kaleb said.
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