Highland Park Neighbors Magazine Articles


A Truly Unique Opportunity

Highland Park Community Foundation (HPCF) is incredibly excited to share that our community will have a once in a lifetime opportunity to attend a local production of Les Misérables this summer! Les Misérables (Les Mis) is the world’s longest running musical and known to be one of the greatest musicals ever created. Sir Cameron Mackintosh – the original producer of Les Mis – personally granted an exceptional license to HPCF grant recipient Uptown Music Theater of Highland Park to produce the show, based on his desire to help our community continue to heal after the Highland Park shooting.

Local theaters in the U.S. are not permitted to license and perform Les Misérables; only infrequent Broadway performances and national tours have ever been allowed. However, after Jamie Davidson, Founder and President of Uptown Music Theater, made a personal plea to Sir Cameron Mackintosh, he generously granted the license. “Mackintosh specifically expressed his desire to help our community continue to heal and move forward from the shooting. This musical has lasted such a long time because it causes us to think, to reflect, to discuss together – which can help our community move forward with positivity,” added Jamie. “This unique opportunity is meaningful not only for Uptown Music Theater, but for our community as a whole.”

Set against the backdrop of 19th century France, Les Mis tells Victor Hugo’s enthralling story of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice, and redemption. With its humanistic themes of justice, community, faith, and perseverance, it is a timeless testament to the survival of the human spirit. With a magnificent score that includes “I Dreamed a Dream,” “On My Own,” “Bring Him Home,” “One Day More,” “Master of the House,” it is no wonder that this epic and uplifting story has become one of the most celebrated musicals in theatrical history.

Les Mis will be performed with a live 20-piece orchestra at the brand new state-of-the-art Performing Arts Center at Deerfield Highland School. There will be 10 performances, starting Friday, July 26, 2024, and ending Sunday, August 11. Friday and Saturday night shows will start at 7pm; Sunday matinees at 2pm; and for the final weekend of the performance, there will be an additional showing on Thursday at 7pm. Proceeds from the show will benefit HPCF’s Highland Park Shooting Recovery Fund.

Uptown Music Theater was founded in 2019 to provide meaningful and accessible music theater for the Highland Park and Highwood community. “We have an educational purpose, we’re a professional theater, and we try to create an environment where our actors and technicians have an opportunity to learn and grow. We have a community focus, perform in Highland Park, and welcome graduates of the Highland Park High School Theater Program as performers and technicians. Uptown Music Theater brings musical theater directly to the community by providing a safe space for people to come together and inspire creativity,” further explained Jamie.

The significance of the theater in the community cannot be understated. The performing arts bring culture and color to Highland Park and Highwood, making life in our community more vibrant. Uptown Music Theater has been an integral part of bringing the arts to the community over the past four years, and has been supported by HPCF grant funding since its creation.

Uptown Music Theater will donate a portion of the proceeds raised through the performances to the Foundation’s Shooting Recovery Fund. Jamie said he was “inspired to give something back, so we reached out to the Community Foundation. We wondered if there was an opportunity to pay it forward. When we found out that the Highland Park Shooting Recovery Fund was still accepting donations, we decided that Uptown’s performance of Les Mis could financially benefit the fund. The HPCF has supported us and our mission since we began, and we’re incredibly grateful to have been a grantee each year. We have a really strong relationship with the foundation and look forward to maintaining that for years to come.”

Uptown Music Theater strives to make its shows accessible for everyone and offers discounts to seniors, children, and those who cannot afford full-priced tickets. Les Mis will be co-produced by Jamie Davidson and Larry Mason, Secretary and Co-Founder of Uptown Music Theater, and directed by Scott Shallenbarger. Complementary tickets will be provided for victims and first responders. To purchase tickets and for additional information, visit umthp.org