Les Miserables

Date 18th October 2012
Society Heywood Amateur Operatic & Dramatic Society
Venue Heywood Civic Hall
Type of Production Musical
Director Joanne Marshall
Musical Director Anthony J Quimby
Choreographer Jill McIntosh

Report

Author: Sharon Drummond

I often hear people say “I’m not going to that show because it’s a youth/kids show and they won’t do it justice”. In the case of Les Miserables with its complex harmonies and storyline I’m sure many people believe that way and that it should only be performed by adults. For sure you need a wealth of talented individuals, and a strong, committed production team. For those who think that way, this show should have changed minds and attitudes to youth performances as it was a wonderful evenings entertainment.

The set looked very effective and the side stages were used really well as the garden, the bedrooms, and café/bar in “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”. The barricades were well constructed and looked great.

The direction by Joanne Marshall ably assisted by Sarah Davey was sympathetic to the story. For those fans who are huge Les Mis fans (of which I am one) the show needs to retain its spectacle, era and use its playing space well. All this was achieved here with seamless changes of scenery and props. The costumes added to the show with the distinction between rich and poor. The dancing by Jill Mcintosh really suited the mixed abilities of the cast and really suited the show.

Now to the cast! The chorus often with individual singing lines did not disappoint. Lucy Grogan as Young Cosette sang her heart out and Alfie Harris as Gavroche stole every scene he was in. This young man has a very promising future with bags of stage presence, excellent vocals and clarity of diction well beyond his years.

Tom Winstanley sang beautifully as Enjolras which is a really hard role to play as he holds the vocals together in “Do You Hear the People Sing” and “Red and Black”. Well done.

Esther Weetman and Tom Shiels played the Thenadiers expertly. These two young performers commanded the stage every time they were on it and Master of the House was wonderfully funny.

Lottie Davey as Fantine sang a wonderful rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” and acted her part really well and her twin sister Alex Davey as Eponine showed a beautiful vocal and such emotion (making me shed tears!) in both “On My Own” and “A Heart Full of Love”. Very well done girls.

Jessica Wiehler sounded lovely as Cosette , opposite Henry Roadnight as Marius. Their voices blended well together and their scenes were very touching. I loved “A Heart Full of Love” and particularly enjoyed “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” by Henry which again bought a tear to my eye.

I have watched George Jones come through the ranks in Hey Kids and this role of Javert was a perfect vehicle for him to show off his talents both as an actor and singer. My favourite song in Les Mis apart from the big all cast numbers is “Stars”. George’s rendition was lovely and well acted.

The role of Jean Valjean is enormous for any actor to undertake, with a part which ages throughout the show, with many lines and songs to learn with complex harmonies. Joshua Leach did an amazing job on this role and his singing voice sounded beautiful in falsetto on “Bring Him Home” and also leading “One day More”. I thoroughly enjoyed watching your performance.

This show was a wonderful piece of theatre and the main strength in this show are the complex harmonies in the numbers. Anthony J Quimby did a fabulous job in working with this group of young people, drilling the harmonies and providing a full well rounded sound with a great Orchestra.

It is lovely to see so many of the cast come through the rank and file of Hey Kids and a massive well done to all the society who work with this talented bunch. Thank you all so much for a wonderful evening.