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CROWDS AUDITION TO BE `MISERABLES'

All I can say is: What a crowd! And what talent. The adult auditions for "Les Miserables" were held Tuesday at the Red Lion Hotel. Well over 500 people showed up prepared to sing their favorite song. Most, however, didn't get the chance. The number of people auditioning simply had to be narrowed down.

Everyone was given a number and taken into a room, 10 at a time. There they gave their resumes and pictures to Richard Jay-Alexander, the director and producer of the play. Some were asked questions, a few sang a little, some were asked to come back the next day, and some weren't."The turnout has been incredible. I'm really impressed with the talent I've seen," said Jay-Alexander.

Having been with "Les Miz" for eleven years, Jay-Alexander knows how to run things and where to hold auditions.

The play sells out faster in Utah then anywhere else. There just seems to be something about "Les Miz" and Salt Lake City. So, Jay-Alexander was really excited to be holding auditions here.

"We really do need people. I'm all tapped out in New York," he said.

It's too soon to tell if anyone from Utah has made the cut. The adults who were called back will be auditioning again this week.

"There is a very good chance someone will make it into the play. We never know what jobs we will have to fill. Right now I need a man to replace someone who is leaving," said Jay-Alexander.

The talented people of Salt Lake have a chance - even with all the competition.

"I think most of us here arelooking for experience," said auditioner Kirsten Morgan. "We realize we're competing with the whole nation."

The children's auditions on Wednesday were a little less hectic. For one thing, only 29 of those who came were the right height. About 20 kids were too tall to fill the three children's parts in the play: young Cosette, young Eponine and Gavroche.

All those auditioning were able to sing their songs and talk with Jay-Alexander, who made every child feel good about the audition and gave them a lot of encouragement.

"There is no need to hurt a child intentionally," he said.

And no one seemed to be hurt. They all left with smiling faces. Some were even asked to attend the play as the producer's guests.

"You know right away if someone is right or not," said Jay-Alexander. "I have to know if they're directable. If not, I can't work with them."

Most of the children auditioning were very centered. Dressed up in their flowing dresses (only three boys auditioned), they were ready to sing and answer any questions.

"You never know what kids will say. They are quietly charming,"

said Jay-Alexander. For example, Travis Price, 7 1/2, was asked by Jay-Alexander why he wanted to be a performer. He simply said "I just feel it in my heart." Everyone was touched by his answer.

"There are about seven kids who are real possibilities," said Jay-Alexander. "There is something in the water here that makes these kids sing."

No decisions on casting have been made yet. But everyone there, including Jay-Alexander, seemed to be very impressed with the talent they saw in Salt Lake. They may even come back next year.