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Geibel announces leads for spring musical

Linda Harkcom | For the Daily Courier Geibel Catholic Junior-Senior High School announced the cast for its spring musical ”Les Misérables,” which will be presented March 15 to 17 at the State Theater in Uniontown. The large cast includes five lead roles, from left, Katie Catanzarite as Eponine, Matthew Emerson as Marius, Jared Beck as Jean Valjean, Brianna Workman as Javert and Olivia Rakas as Fantine/Enjolras.

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Geibel Catholic Junior-Senior High School has announced the cast for its spring musical, “Les Misérables.”

The large cast includes five lead roles: Jared Beck as Jean Valjean, Katie Catanzarite as Eponine, Matthew Emerson as Marius, Olivia Rakas as Fantine/Enjolras and Brianna Workman as Javert.

“As soon as I saw each one sing I had a vision of what part they would be in and as the auditions went on it became more and more evident and then call backs just cinched it,” said director, producer and music director Nick Bell.

Beck, 17, of Masontown, a senior at the school, portrayed Rum Tum Tugger in last year's “Cats” and was in the ensemble for the school's “Phantom of the Opera.” He is thrilled to have the lead role.

“I was very excited and proud of myself but also very nervous because the role is considered a dramatic tenor and my voice teacher says I am a baritone with an extended range so I have had to do a lot of vocal rehearsing to extend my range to hit those notes,” he said.

Senior Catanzarite, 17, of McClellandtown has performed in the past four Geibel musicals. She portrayed Jellylorum in last year's “Cats” and was in the ensemble in “The Phantom of the Opera,” “The Wedding Singer” and “Sweet Charity.” She said playing Eponine is a dream come true.

“I fell in love with the solo song ‘On My Own' when I was a freshman and I wanted to someday be able to play that role, so to be able to do this role as a senior is amazing,” she said.

Sophomore Emerson, 16, of Carmichaels will play Marius. He portrayed Gus the Theater Cat in “Cats” last year. Emerson said he was not familiar with the show when he auditioned so he was open to playing any role Bell chose for him.

“I find Marius to be a lot like myself. He is a diehard romantic but he also cares about his friends and wants to be with them and he is just an overall nice guy and I really enjoy playing the part,” he said.

Rakas, 16, a senior, of Uniontown already has a resume which includes eight different shows. Locally she has also performed in the Ben Franklin Middle School production of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” as Mrs. Teevee and as Baby Louise in the Pretty Good Theater Company's production of “Gypsy.” At Geibel she was Munkustrap in “Cats,” Meg Giry in “Phantom of the Opera” and she was in the ensemble of “Sweet Charity.” She has also performed in the ensemble in the Pittsburgh Musical Theater's “Chess” and as a dancer with the Russian Moscow Ballet's “Nutcracker.”

“In the beginning I didn't like ‘Les Misérables,' but as I listened to the music and found the underlying meaning of religion, redemption and love, I really like it now and I can get into my characters and understand how they feel,” she said.

Senior Workman, 17, of Champion has also performed in the past four Geibel productions. She was Jemima in “Cats,” Page Two and a dancer in “Phantom of the Opera,” a dancer in “The Wedding Singer” and she was in the children's choir in “Sweet Charity.” She has also performed in the Geyer Performing Arts Center's production of “The Nutcracker.”

Workman may have the biggest challenge playing Javert, a traditionally a male role. But she does not see the gender issue as her greatest obstacle with the role.

“I'm not very evil and Javert is a very evil character so I have to play someone very different. Plus I have to learn to sing in a very low range,” she said.

“Les Misérables” will be presented on March 15, 16 and 17 at the State Theater in Uniontown. Tickets will be $10 and will be available later this month.

Linda Harkcom is a freelance writer.

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