A 16-piece orchestra will back up a cast featuring scores of Islanders in the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School production of Les Misérables, opening March 31 at the school’s performing arts center in Oak Bluffs.

The blockbuster show, based on Victor Hugo’s epic 1862 novel, has been part of the musical theatre canon since its English-language debut in 1985. More than one of the young actors in the upcoming Island production grew up with “Les Mis.”

“This was one of my dream roles,” said 16-year-old junior Ava McGee, who plays the scheming, avaricious Madame Thénardier.

Engracia Scheller and Tenley Brooks alternate playing Epinone. — Ray Ewing

Senior Ingrid Moore, 18, feels the same way about her part as Monsieur Thénardier, the villainess’s equally despicable husband.

“I wanted to play it ever since I first saw the stage production on PBS [at] five years old,” Ms. Moore told the Gazette during a break from rehearsals and costume fittings Tuesday.

“I always thought he was very funny,” she continued. “He’s clearly corrupt and a horrible, horrible person — all of his actions are motivated by money and greed.

“It’s definitely a relief from the sadness that your character brings,” Ms. Moore added, nodding to Aiden Weiland, a 15-year-old freshman who plays the tragic student Enjolras.

Ben Yancey is Jean Valjean. — Ray Ewing

“He is the leader of the revolutionaries,” said Mr. Weiland, a talented fiddler who has also had various acting roles during his years at the Oak Bluffs School.

“This will be my first one since my voice has dropped,” said Mr. Weiland, whose big number in the show is One Day More at the end of Act I.

Les Misérables’ leading man is 18-year-old senior Ben Yancey, who plays the complex but steadfast hero of the tale, Jean Valjean.

“I’ve been doing the shows here since freshman year,” said Mr. Yancey, who appeared in Big Fish as circus ringmaster Amos Calloway.

While Valjean wasn’t his dream role — he preferred Marius, the romantic student — Mr. Yancey said he has come to appreciate the older part.

“I love all of his songs and just the meaning of who the character is, [and] what it means to be a good person and how your past doesn’t always define who you are as a person,” he said.

Valjean’s nemesis, the relentless Inspector Javert, is played by 18-year-old senior Emmett Favreau, who is capping his Island performing career before heading to college in the fall.

Ella Buchert and Hayleigh LeCoq alternate playing Fantine. — Ray Ewing

“I’m a baritone, [so] due mainly to my voice I play villains,” said Mr. Favreau, who portrayed the heavy Don Price in Big Fish, the 2020 high school musical produced just before the outset of the pandemic.

The part of Marius is played by 16-year-old junior Jack Crawford.

“I’m very happy that I’m playing Marius,” he said. “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables is my favorite song in the show, [and] I also really like in general his character development. He doesn’t have much social awareness [but] he becomes a whole new character.”

Opposite Marius, the role of Cosette will be played on alternating nights by the actress-singers Faith Fecitt and Annabelle Brothers, both 17-year-old juniors.

“It’s the role I wanted [and] I was really grateful to get it,” said Ms. Fecitt, while Ms. Brothers noted their individual approaches to portraying the character.

Ava McGee is Madame Thenardier. — Ray Ewing

“They’re each our own,” she said.

As a bonus, the classmates have gotten to know each other better through rehearsals. “We’ve gotten a lot closer this year, which is really cool,” Ms. Fecitt said.

The role of Fantine, Cosette’s wronged mother, is shared by seniors Ella Buchert and Haley LeCoq, who are 18 and almost 18 respectively. While many of her castmates are regulars on the PAC stage, Ms. LeCoq said this is her first acting role there.

“I’m giving it a shot,” she said. “It’s pretty fun … I’ve been singing since I was born.”

It’s a first role as well for Ms. Buchert, but not her first PAC show. In Big Fish, while concealed behind scenery, she flung fish into the air during one of the show-stopping production numbers.

Another double-cast role is that of Eponine, the Thénardiers’ wayward daughter, played on different nights by 17-year-old seniors Engracia Scheller and Tenley Brooks.

“She’s very confident and she doesn’t really care what other people think of her,” Ms. Scheller said. “She just kind of does what she wants; she doesn’t really follow the rules of femininity.”

Both actresses said they value the high school theatre experience.

Annabelle Brothers and Faith Fecitt alternate playing Cosette. — Ray Ewing

“It’s just a place where I can do what I love to do,” Ms. Scheller said. “I just love performing and making people happy.”

In Les Misérables, the scenery’s most prominent set piece is the barricade, a central element of the story.

“It comes from both sides of the stage, it’s taller than I am and each side probably weighs enough for four people [to be needed to move it],” said Henry Shank, a 15-year-old freshman who is part of the show’s technical crew.

Along with the barricade, Mr. Shank said he helps wrangle a hand-drawn cart, a large gate and other scenery along with many props.

“It’s been pretty fun,” he said. “Anyone who is contemplating joining the plays, if they’re a community member, you should do it — it’s really fun.

“If you don’t like to sing you can always build props,” Mr. Shank added.

Directed by Brooke Hardman Ditchfield, with orchestra directed by Abigail Chandler, Les Misérables plays at 7 p.m. March 31, April 1 and April 2 and at 2 p.m. April 3. Tickets are available through the regional high school website.

More pictures.