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    Inspiring the arts in Chestermere

    Like the students in the iconic musical Les Misérables, Chestermere’s Public Library hopes to inspire others as they host their second annual cultural musical evening Oct. 13.
    “I would like to see all kinds of groups doing theatrical performing arts kinds of things, cultural events,” said Chestermere Public Library Assistant Director Cathy Burness.
    For those familiar with the musical, Burness hopes that they will be more successful than the student’s revolution in the musical who failed in their goal to inspire a popular uprising in Paris in the early 1800s.
    “I would like to see it pop up all over the place and I would totally support anything that was similar to this that was happening at the rec centre or camp Chestermere or anyplace else,” said Burness.
    Like they did last year with The Phantom of the Opera, volunteers with the library will be performing selected excerpts from Les Misérables.
    This year’s show is titled Do You Hear The People Sing? After one of the signature songs from the musical.
    “We tried to choose songs that laid the story out for people, some you just have to include because they’re iconic and others tell the story,” said Burness.
    Also considering that they don’t have the same size of cast, song selection has had to reflect that talent that they do have.
    There are six major roles supported by the Chestermere Soundwaves Choir. They will be performing about a dozen songs.
    “Which is more than we did last time,” said Burness, “but because of the complexity of the story there are many, many years involved and a number of characters.”
    “And we couldn’t do it with two characters,” she said.
    They are also rearranging the order of some of the music from how it is performed on stage to accommodate the size and space of performing at the library.
    “The changes that we made were based on available space and the talent that we have,” she said.
    “Our main concern is that the story flows and its feasible with sets and performers,” said Burness.
    Returning this year is Graydon Pease who sang the role of The Phantom last year and Mel Porter who played Christine.
    Burness said that missing characters and plot points not included in the selected songs will be filled in with narration between the musical scenes.
    Burness said that what is important for people to understand as the show begins is that the protagonist Jean Valjean was in prison, upon his release he was shown an act of kindness and because of that decided to turn his life around.
    “That to me is the set up,” she said, “We just had to condense it…and there’s just no way around it.”
    Les Misérables was chosen as the inspiration for this year’s performance for two reasons; first, it is a favourite of the event’s organizers and performers, and second the show stopped in Calgary this past summer on its tour across Canada.
    Burness also believe that there are themes to the musical that are universal and valuable to show as part of cultural programing in Chestermere.
    “There’s a few things, there’s the goodness of people,” said Burness, “I think there’s a message about the struggles of life, I think there’s a message about finding hope when there appears to be no hope.”
    She also hopes that Do You Hear The People Sing? Will inspire and delight Chestermerians, especially since there is a dearth of cultural performances in the city.
    “I just think it’s something Chestermere desperately needs,” said Burness.
    “I think it will really energize people,” she said.
    If the library staff are any indication Burness is right about it energizing the public.
    “The staff gets excited about it, customers come in excited about it,” said Burness, “It’s a real shot in the arm for the people who plan it and the people who go to it.”
    The event also brings tangible benefits to the library and the city said Burness.
    “It adds value to the community via the library.
    “It helps people understand we’re not just books,” she said.
    Do Your Hear The People Sing? Is being produced in partnership between the Chestermere Public Library and the City of Chestermere.
    Tickets for the show went on sale Aug. 20 and are available through Eventbrite.
    The show has a capacity of for 100 guests.