Making the Cut: Tom tries out for 'Les Mis' - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Making the Cut: Tom tries out for 'Les Mis'


Les Miserables has been seen by millions of people in more than 40 countries.  Now, the South Bend Civic Theater is about to put on the beloved musical.  Try-outs are underway right now.  For some, Les Miserables coming to town meant the chance to perform the role of a lifetime.

For FOX28's Tom Powell, it provided an opportunity to conquer a fear, get on stage and see if he could make the cut.

Tom Describes his experience:

Les Miserables is known for its powerful songs.  From the stage to the screen, audiences have been blown away by the story and the singing.
So you can imagine my fear after deciding to try-out for the upcoming production of Les Mis at the South Bend Civic Theater.  

Let's be honest.  I needed some help.  Clearly sweating this out, I turned to The Music Village in Downtown South Bend where Executive Director Kellirae Boann has created a unique place to build the community through music. "Putting instruments in kids' hands and encouraging them to own their voice.  That's a really good use of my time," Boann says. 

Young performers Lillie Warner and Casey O'Sullivan, along with their coach Sue Steininger, agreed to let me crash their vocal performance class to give me a crash course on singing and on getting over my stage fright.

"You sing from the heart," Sue advised.

"Everybody gets nervous... just, you gotta get over it," Casey told me.  "You have to be the character."

Lillie added her thoughts.  "Before you go on stage... take a deep breath," she said.  "Just sort of calm down."

Something else I've learned along the way?  Sometimes it helps to lower expectations.  I don't want you to expect a Susan Boyle Moment.  If you're expecting me to pull off a jaw-dropping version of a powerful Les Mis song.  Maybe you should keep dreaming.

Audition Day:

Inside the Scottish Rite, auditions are about to get underway for South Bend Civic Theater's Production of Les Mis.  After signing a form and taking a a picture.  It was time to face my fears.

Also in the crowd?  Stephen Salisbury.  He's been active community theater since 1999.  "But I had done theater since I was, I mean big enough to speak and sing.  I love doing it," he says. 

He's the perfect guy to give me some advice.  "I would just let it go, really," he tells me.  "Just don't think about it."

But here's the deal.  I'm not ready for this.  I have a specific song from the show prepared, one I thought I could handle.  But there are so many people trying out, 80 women and more than 60 guys, Director David Case knew he had to go a more expedient route.  "I wanted to be able to do the auditions in a uniform and quick order,"  he says.  "We'll get what we need and then let people go."

Case then explains what will happen next.  He'll take one group of us around the piano, let us warm up, teach us three lines of a Les Mis song I hadn't prepared, then have each of us perform those lines individually.  "We're not here to judge how you're going to react at this time," Case tells me.  "We just want to hear how you sing.  You may not know the words, you may flub up on the words, but we're not going to mark that down... just keep going."

No turning back now.  I'm up first.  "I'll set the bar low," I tell the crowd.

With guys like Salisbury looking on, under the watchful eye of the director and the rest of his team, I give it my best shot.

What did I learn?  That facing your fears can actually be pretty fun.  I had a great time, but I also found out that making the cut is a lot tougher than I expected.

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