Les Misérables – School Edition

April 02, 2017 at 11:12 PM

Dreams. Passion. Redemption. Resolution.

It’s nine years since Saint Kentigern last staged Les Misérables. An epic masterpiece of musical theatre, the popular version of Victor Hugo's 1862 novel, Les Misérables, has stood the test of time, enthralling audiences across the globe. 

Nine years on and there could be no audience more captivated than our own! Forget the West End, Broadway, Sydney … after the opening night of our Senior College musical, Les Misérables – School Edition, word spread. The word was, ‘Outstanding.’ Quickly followed by, ‘Have you heard the students sing?’ And as the word spread further, the auditorium was packed to capacity on subsequent nights – all left in awe of this year’s production. ‘Outstanding’ did not do it justice. As Principal Senior College, Mrs Suzanne Winthrop said, ‘More than outstanding, this was an exceptional performance and each of you should be proud of the energy, dedication and enormous amount of talent you brought to the stage tonight.’ 

Hugo’s melodramatic tale is raw with emotion and it took a talented cast to give it the depth it deserved. Our cast poured themselves into their characters bringing them to life with maturity well beyond their years. The orchestra did a superb job working with a difficult score to provide the backing. 

The curtain opened in Digne, 1815, as Jean Valjean was released on parole after 19 years on the chain gang. Within moments of the opening number, we hear the first of our talented vocalists. The star role of Valjean was cast to Sid Chand (Year 13) and his delivery at all vocal ranges was ‘spine tingling.’ His ability to draw us in and hold us with his song was done with a sincerity and depth of feeling that defied his age. 

Set free by the policeman, Inspector Javert, Valjean is condemned to be an outcast, but is given a second chance through an act of kindness by the Bishop (Desmond Yong, Year 12). Starting his life anew, we catch up with Valjean eight years later as the Mayor of Montreuil-Sur-Mer and owner of a factory. The dismissal of one of his workers, Fantine, is demanded by co-workers as she is found to be raising an illegitimate child, Cosette. Fantine was played by Erin Meek (Year 13), another beautiful, clear delivery, played with passion. Valjean stepped in to save Fantine from Javert and the scene is set. Javert, played by the rich baritone voice of Braydon Robinson (Year 13), was unswerving in his beliefs. Whilst he may have appeared as a villain, he was a dedicated policeman with a rigid and profound sense of duty. Brayden carried the stern, forbidding role most capably.

As Fantine dies, Valjean promises to look out for her daughter, Cosette. We meet young Cosette (Scarlett Jacques, Year 10), five years later as she confidently delivered her heart-wrenching song, ‘Castle on a Cloud,’ before we discovered the true villains of the show, her guardians, Monsieur and Madame Thenardier. What characters! James Fisher and Molly Griffiths played these parts with true aplomb! Course and vulgar with a wicked sense of humour, they provided a comedic levity and were deliciously nasty! The Thenardiers poured scorn on Cosette, whilst indulging their own daughter, Eponine. Valjean, discovering their wicked ways, takes Cosette under his wing. 

Time moves ahead, Cosette is now a young lady (Izzy Bayley, Year 12) and the mosaic of characters continues to build as the other main theme emerges; the student revolution of 1832, a classic struggle against adversity in 19th century France. We meet Marius, a student (Luca Heard, Year 13), Eponine, now grown (Millie Elliot, Year 12), the street urchin, Gavroche (Axel Bostock, Year 9) and Enjolras, the student leader, a role powerfully delivered by Harrison Griffiths (Year 12). Each of these students is to be applauded for beautiful voices, clear lyrics and the passion brought to each of their roles making their characters truly believable. 

And so the roller coaster of emotions continued as the romances were played out, the songs were sung, and the barricade was built and fell; with glory in death, as young lives were lost for a cause. 

From the swinging rowdiness of ‘Master of the House’ and the heart-stopping delivery of Valjean’s ‘Bring Him Home,’ to the roof-raising, ‘Have you Heard the People Sing,’ every song was superb. Lead roles were played out in solo; the vocal range, strength, power and beauty taking us by surprise. This was an enthralling spectacle and the production team, headed by Producer and Music Director, Ross Gerritsen and Director Jason Te Mete, along with their cast and crew, are to be applauded for having the courage, talent, dedication and commitment to bring this to the stage.  

The word, ‘Outstanding,’ could not be used strongly enough!


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