Do you hear the people sing? Homeschool Players to perform Les Misérables

·3 min read

Apr. 29—CARTERSVILLE — The Homeschool Players' production of Les Misérables has taken plenty of twists and turns in the two-plus years since its inception, but finally, it's showtime.

The 20-person cast features home-schooled students, from elementary school to those enrolled in college. Producer Monique McCord started the Homeschool Players to bring quality musicals to the home-school community.

The majority of cast members in the production are holdovers from the original casting in 2019. In early 2020, just as it was set to be performed, COVID-19 shut the school system down, putting the show on pause.

"Our students were devastated, these kids poured their heart and soul into this show, and the opportunity was gone in an instant," McCord said.

The show's completion was so important to the cast that most original members continued with the production, despite some of them moving on to college.

Devin Kramer, 20, of Marietta plays the male lead, Jean Valjean, and said that the years between the initial casting have only served to improve the show.

"I thought we were in a good place, but coming back and seeing how everyone's improved, how everyone's matured is crazy. I feel like we're putting on such a better show now because of the time we had off," Kramer said. "The time off has made the show so much better and I think the audience is going to see that."

Kramer, who has seven years of acting experience, said he would have some butterflies leading up to the opening.

"If you're not nervous, then that means you don't care. It's just natural because we've been doing this show for so long," Kramer said. "It's exceeded just being another show. We are putting on one of the biggest shows ever, and it's been two or three years, so there's so much emotion tied to it, and I think the emotional weight is going to carry us over our nerves."

Fellow cast member Donovan McKenzie of Acworth, who plays Inspector Javert, said the pandemic helped him become better adjusted to his role.

"It has made me a better singer, and at first, I didn't put forth enough emotion into it, and I didn't actually feel the character as much," McKenzie said. "Now I've immersed myself into the character."

McKenzie, who attends Kennesaw State University after being home-schooled through high school, said he wants the audience to "look at us and be like, wow, this was put on by homeschoolers?"

McCord, who started the organization in 2019, wanted to provide home-schooled students with the opportunity to shine in musical theater.

"Everyone said Les Misérables was too ambitious of a show to do your first year, but I decided to go for it, and here we are with some amazing performers," McCord said. "I wanted to give them that opportunity. Like a lot of these just needed that moment to shine," McCord said.

The curtain rises at 7 p.m. Friday and 7 p.m. on Saturday at the Grand Theater in Cartersville. Tickets are available at https://ci.ovationtix.com/35592.