A Coon Rapids resident has scored a lead role in a community theater production of “Les Misérables.”
Lorin Yenor, plays Jean Valjean, who painfully ascends from prisoner for stealing a loaf of bread for his starving nephew to respected mayor of a town where people are unaware of his checkered past. He is relentlessly pursued by the law for nearly 20 years and uses a number of aliases to survive.
Ultimately, the show is about Valjean’s redemption, the people he meets and grows to love along the way and his striving to better himself and those around him. The show takes place in 19th century revolutionary France.
The musical, based on the book by Victor Hugo, is now playing at the Mounds View Community Theatre and runs through July 28. Claude-Michel Schönberg composed the music with a libretto by Alain Boublil.
“It’s a show I had always wanted to do since I was in high school,” said Yenor, who attended Blaine High School and in 1997 graduated from Spring Lake Park District 16’s learning alternatives school.
Among acting gigs, Yenor has appeared in The Sky’s The Limit productions based in Minneapolis, the Great Theatre in St. Cloud and the Lab Theatre in Minneapolis. He has also acted at Masquers Theatre in Forest Lake and played Kenickie in “Grease” in a Spring Lake Park community theater more than a decade ago.
But his role as Valjean marks the longest he’s acted on stage in a single production. That would be for about two-and-a-half hours. The second longest was when he was on stage for an hour-and-a-half straight in “tick, tick … BOOM!” in The Sky’s The Limit productions. The show was a biographical piece by the late Jonathon Larson, who wrote the rock musical “Rent” and received a Pulitzer Prize for Drama posthumously.
He was hooked
Yenor became interested in music and theater when he was in choir at what was then Northdale Junior High. He also appeared in a seventh-grade theater production.
“From that point on I was kind of hooked,” Yenor said. “I guess I always had the interest. I wasn’t a big toys kid.”
Yenor grew up in a home with music always playing.
His mother, Pamela Yenor, organist at Coon Rapids United Methodist Church, has been an inspiration.
Playing the lead role in “Les Mis” has presented some unique circumstances for Yenor.
He’s usually cast as the bad guy, he said. So playing the good and redemptive Jean Valjean places acting restraints on his character, Yenor said.
What otherwise would be his usual modus operandi, that of an evil character with few restraints, is easier for him to play, he said.
Also, of late, Yenor has been singing baritone/bass roles. The Valjean role stretches his range needed to reach some required high tenor tones, most notably in the tender “Bring Him Home” song.
The show gets to be an emotional drain after a while, Yenor said about his character who is laden with anger. “It pushes the emotional limits of the actor,” he said.
Yenor, a resident of Coon Rapids for about 15 years, describes himself as the stereotypical actor hoping to earn a living from his craft. Perhaps, making it big in theater some day. For now, he works as a server at the Olive Garden in Maplewood.
“I would love if it that’s all I had to do,” he said about making it professionally.
Yenor said the Mounds View production is different from touring productions.
“It’s really going to blow people away,” Yenor said.
Mounds View Community Theatre presents “Les Misérables,” directed by Randy Winkler, through July 28. Adults $18, seniors/students $14, children 6 and under, $8. Irondale Theater, 2425 Long Lake Road, New Brighton. For more information visit www.mvct.org or call 651-638-2139.
Elyse Kaner is at