Show business doesn't upstage schoolwork for Les Miz kids.

Sure, the four young stars in the "Les Miserables" Broadway touring company have been away from school for months. But a special tutor makes sure their noses are kept to the grindstone, hitting the books backstage and taking field trips. "School" lasts five hours a day, four days a week."It's limiting in one sense . . . but at the same time, we're in new cities every week and get to learn what makes that city special," Chris Collins, a second-grade Los Angeles teacher on yearlong leave, said following a field trip to the Underground City in Seattle. "It's definitely an education for them."

It's also a lesson in tolerance and flexibility for the tutor and chaperone, who has had to make do with makeshift classrooms and a "school box," resembling a portable closet, filled with school supplies and books. Sometimes, kids do homework during performances, in the dressing room between stage cues, Collins said. Each child has a laptop and, lacking an extensive library, they use the Internet for some of their homework assignments.

But the third-grade girls sharing roles of young Cosette and Eponine and sixth-grade boys alternating as Gavroche don't seem to mind at all, Collins said.

One of those girls is Alison Fidel, a Murray third-grader from Viewmont Elementary. And her teacher keeps close tabs on her.

E-mail and Federal Express are teacher Michelle Miller's educational lifeline to Alison. Miller also keeps up on the third-grader's progress through her parents. But it's hard not to know firsthand whether she is learning all she needs to know.

"I'd like to see how she's doing in math and keeping up," Miller said. "(But) one thing about Alison Fidel is she's an outstanding student, so I'm not the least bit worried about her education. She's getting an education far superior to what I can give her in the classroom."

Indeed, child actors learn about the cities they tour. A few weeks ago, they visited an Olympic training center in Colorado Springs and chatted with an Olympic gold medalist.

The cast also spent time in Washington, D.C., Montreal, San Diego and Cleveland, to name a few cities. Such stops, which include Salt Lake City beginning Tuesday, also give the kids a chance to learn about people who may be different than they are.

"It's been really amazing, and I've received an education, too," said mother Melia Fidel, who has accompanied Alison since she joined the tour in June. "These kids have a really challenging schedule . . . but all four kids feel like being in the theater is play."

And sometimes, it is play, even for the adults doting on the young cast members.

Before a performance Halloween night, the actors put on an elaborate spook alley for the kids, complete with a blindfolded "witches' initiation." A costume party followed the performance.

"I'm not sure who had more fun that day, the kids or the adults," Collins said.

Viewmont Elementary students, who write to Alison and track her stops, also got into the Halloween act, so to speak.

They videotaped their Halloween parade and activities, which they hope to share with their friend during her Salt Lake stop, Miller said. Several teachers, friends and neighbors plan to see the show.

"We try to make her a part of the class as much as possible," Miller said. "She's our little celebrity."