History repeats for Ashburton mum and daughter

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HAPPY COINCIDENCE: Variety Theatre Ashburton president Jo Hooper (right) with her mum Yvonne Harrison, who was president when the society last staged Les Misérables in 2009.
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History is repeating itself for an Ashburton mother and daughter.

Yvonne Harrison was president of Variety Theatre Ashburton in 2009, the last time the society staged Les Misérables. Yvonne’s daughter Jo Hooper is president this year, as the society stages Les Misérables for the second time in its history.

The pair said it was a happy coincidence they learned while talking to each other about this year’s upcoming show.

‘‘I feel very proud and humble,’’ Jo said of following in her mother’s footsteps.

‘‘It really is great to think we are continuing on in this society,’’ Yvonne said.

The family association with the society goes even wider. Jo’s sister Bridget Danielson serves on the committee and Bridget’s son Joe is in the ensemble for this year’s production, meaning there are three generations involved in this year’s production.

The mother-and-daughter pair are dedicated behind-thescenes crew for shows dating back to the 1980s. ‘‘I have never been on stage except to sweep it,’’ Yvonne said.

Yvonne has been involved with the society for 42 years, while Jo has been involved for about 35. ‘‘You do it for the love of the theatre,’’ Jo said.

They are huge fans of Les Misérables, which is one of the most celebrated musicals in theatrical history. ‘‘If you go to the rehearsals of this show, they are like a close-knit family and I am in just in awe of the voices. Ashburton is in for such a treat with this show,’’ Jo said.

Les Misérables follows the story of Jean Valjean, played by Luke Glendining, a wellmeaning thief turned factory owner. Inspector Javert, played by Aaron Boyce, is Valjean’s nemesis as he tries to help dying single mother Fantine, played by Briar Patrick. Valjean rescues Fantine’s daughter Cosette from dismal circumstances. The child Cosette is played by Eva Wells and Amarlie Fletcher, while the adult Cosette is played by Kimberley Fenton.

Les Misérables is a story of broken dreams and unrequited love, sacrifice and redemption. Songs include I Dreamed a Dream, On My Own, One Day More and Do You Hear the People Sing.

* Les Misérables will stage at the Ashburton Event Centre, May 17 to 25. Tickets, available via asheventcentre.co.nz, adults $95, gold card $60, children 12 and under $55. Fees apply.