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Not this past summer but the summer before, I was privileged enough to be able to participate in Top of Utah Entertainment’s production of “Les Miserables” as Cosette. While in “Les Mis,” I was able to make a lot of new friends and learn life lessons that I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.
Like many college students, I move home during the summer and live with my parents to work and to save money. My parents live in Tremonton, and the rehearsals for “Les Miserables” were in Logan.
When I first got to rehearsals, I didn’t know anyone. Literally, I was surrounded by strangers, many of whom were not predisposed to like me, considering they saw me as an outsider, one of very few from Tremonton when nearly the entire cast was from Logan, and I had gotten the ingenue lead.
Needless to say, the first couple of weeks of rehearsals were pretty lonely. It wasn’t until two of the ensemble members, Jeremy and Isabel, reached out to me and made room for me next to them during the pre-rehearsal lowdown that I was accepted by the other cast members. Their simple action started a friendship between the three of us, later to be completed by Peter, the young man playing Valjean.
While their acceptance and friendship toward me opened the doors for friendships with other cast members, that initial and most intimate friendship is the one that lives most vividly in my memory.
The cast for Top of Utah Entertainment’s 2012 production of “Les Miserables” rehearsed for almost six months, several days a week. To say that by the end the cast had bonded is a little bit of an understatement.
When we performed, it was no longer a group of individuals performing a show together. We moved and reacted in sync. We were no longer a group of high school kids singing about the French revolution, but friends of the ABC fighting for change, orphans working as prostitutes on the wharf to make ends meet. We were singing about our lives, pleading for our salvation, enjoying first love, lamenting unrequited love. In those moments on stage, it was all so real it stuck with each of us long after the curtain fell.
This experience, as fantastic as it sounds, is far from unique. I’m not a theater major, but I’ve been in a few plays in my time. Every time I’ve been in a show, something similar to this happens to the cast. By the end of it all, no matter what differences we started with, we end up best friends.
However, as romantic as the bond that happens with cast members sounds, it doesn’t last. Even just a month after “Les Miserables” was over, I had a hard time relating to the other cast members.
It was hard to let go of at first. I would bend over backward to see my old friends, letting them use me when I should have said no. I wanted so badly to just step back into the past and take up the magic of the summer, but that time had passed and I had to learn to accept that and learn to live with happy memories rather than sour them by trying to prolong something that had passed.
The bond that is created between cast members transcends other types of relationships. As a cast, you become more than friends — almost family, without the annoying detail of sharing genetic material.
Being involved in theatrical productions isn’t always about being in the spotlight, wearing the beautiful costumes or having the leading role. Theater is also about the bonds you create with the friends you make there, forging memories that last long after the curtain has fallen.