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The Play-Goer: Les Miserables

StoryTellers’ Bowie Playhouse debut

Ian Cripe and Alysa Fitch (front) and Naomi Shushereba-Smith rehearse a scene from StoryTellers’ upcoming production of Les Miserables.
     StoryTellers Theater Arts Academy is now rehearsing an adaptation of the Tony Award-winning musical Les Miserables, which will mark the company’s Bowie Playhouse debut May 2 to 5. Founded in 2016 by mother-daughter team Terry Sweet Bouma, artistic director, and Alyssa Bouma, production director, StoryTellers has mounted seven productions in venues across the area, from Into the Woods and A Midsummer Night’s Dream to A Tribute to Patsy Cline and Twelfth Night.   
     The company was created by popular demand. Terry Bouma has been directing musicals at the Rockbridge Academy, an Annapolis-area private school. “There was wide participation,” she says, “fine production values and great talent, but because the school is so small, the musicals were done only every other year. It became clear that there was a need, a lot of interest for students to have more opportunity even beyond the school.” 
     StoryTellers does three performances a year, including a cabaret revue and a summer Shakespeare play, for which the cast rehearses for the typical professional theater schedule of four weeks, coming in with their lines memorized. “Those four weeks are great training,” Bouma says, which aligns with the company’s focus on helping teens and young adults learn about theater. 
  Les Miserables continues that effort but also marks an expansion of StoryTellers as it takes steps toward becoming a full-fledged community theater in addition to an educational academy for theater. Though it’s a separate entity from Rockbridge, its beginnings were steeped in that student base; now, with Les Miserables, the company’s reach has expanded, with more cast members coming from beyond that original base.
     “There are a lot of really gifted high school students who would pursue theater, but there are not a lot of outlets for them,” Bouma says. “These students are so innately gifted and well trained that our audience will not walk away saying, well that was pretty good for kids. They will be wowed at the quality of the talent and the production.”
     Alyssa Bouma agrees: “There’s something really magical that students bring to it, a liveliness that adults might not bring. They’re young people, they get what it is to have a cause, to rebel … and the result is there’s a lovely energy and freshness to this production that will be exciting for anybody to see.”
Playing May 3 and 4  at the Bowie Playhouse, 16500 White Marsh Dr., Bowie, $20 w/discounts, rsvp: