‘Les Miserables,’ ‘Little Mermaid,’ ‘Fame’ among shows set for summer series
By SARAH EARLE
For the Monitor
You could argue that Clint Klose has more than a smidge in common with Jean Valjean. Ten summers spent in a stifling school gymnasium with a bunch of tweens and teens would seem, to some, a wretched existence. But Klose isn’t plotting his escape. Quite the contrary. He loves sharing his passion for theater with the young people of the Concord and prides himself on creating quality productions for the community to enjoy.
“I like to consider RB Productions a professional community theater,” said Klose, who was starting work on the theater company’s first and biggest production, Les Miserables, earlier this week. “It’s not your typical kids’ theater. All it takes is for a person to come see it for the first time, and they’re hooked.”
The same could be said of the RB cast, most of whom are familiar faces on the summer theater scene. Slots in the camp usually fill up by December, and most are snagged by returning participants.
“When you offer something parents value and kids value and the community values, I think it finds a natural staying capacity,” said Klose, who runs theater programs at Beaver Meadow School, Rundlett Middle School and Concord High School during the school year.
But you don’t hit the 10 year mark by being same old, same old. RB Productions likes a challenge, and this year that challenge comes in the form of a mega-hit musical that also became a huge Hollywood success just a few months ago. Oh, and they’ll have just two weeks to pull it all together.
Klose, who recently directed Concord High School’s production of Phantom of the Opera, is undaunted. “We’ve got all the music that people remember from the show. We’ve got great staging, great scenery, great lighting . . . and we’ve got some really amazing voices,” he said.
Adding considerable panache to that formula is the theater company’s new home: The Capitol Center for the Arts. Thanks to a partnership forged last year, all RB Productions shows will take place on the Cap Center stage (rehearsals still take place in the un-air-conditioned Concord High gymnasium, lest you think life has become too cushy for these young thespians).
Other shows on the summer schedule include Little Mermaid Jr., Fame Jr., and Guys and Dolls Jr. The “junior” means they’re slightly condensed and suitable for families, Klose said – not that they’re lacking in quality.
“This is not your typical, oh, we have to go to a little kids’ show,” he said. “We love it when people say, ‘We didn’t expect it to be like this.’ ”
Of course, by now, many people do know what to expect of RB Productions – so much so that Klose struggles with finding room for new talent. Registration opens for the theater camps almost a year ahead of time and is on a first-come, first-serve basis, with preference going to returning campers. There are usually a few slots left for newbies, but not many. This year, partly in an attempt to welcome new kids, Klose introduced a three-day Broadway Performers Workshop, led by Broadway actor George Salazar. More than half the participants were new to the RB program.
“He was a huge hit with everyone,” Klose said. “I saw an improvement in every single person.”
Les Miserables plays at the Capitol Center for the Arts on July 12 and 13, followed by The Little Mermaid Jr. (July 19 and 20), Fame Jr. (July 26 and 27) and Guys and Dolls Jr., Aug. 2 and 3. For tickets and information, visit ccanh.com.
To celebrate its 10th anniversary, RB Productions is planning a theater revue of its past shows in September. Details will be released soon.
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