Get ready to hear the people sing in St. Andrew’s Episcopal School’s new production of Les Misérables. Les Misérables, by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg, is a classic piece of extravagant musical theater. Set during the Paris Rebellion of June 1832, Les Mis follows Jean Valjean (Ada Shin), a French ex-convict, as his path to redemption weaves together with the lives of revolutionaries and many other diverse characters. St. Andrew’s executed Valjean’s story with an exceptional degree of polish and character, truly bringing this tale of tragedy and triumph to life.
The most impressive element of the production was the clarity and cohesiveness of the show’s various ensembles. At every moment, everyone on stage was wholly immersed in the world of 1830s Paris. Whether dramatically firing from the barricades, or raucously enjoying themselves in bawdy numbers like “Master of the House,” the ensembles always shined.
The show’s central characters, offering the emotional anchor in this world of high drama and passion, did an excellent job as well. The aforementioned Jean Valjean combined a great emotional range with excellent chemistry with their fellow actors, particularly Javert (Jonas Blum), their tense conflict providing an excellent through-line for the show.
In terms of vocals however, the two lovers of the piece are the absolute highlight. Cosette (Charlotte Lobring), Valjean’s adopted daughter, checked all the boxes, with excellent vocal control, emotional range, and polished staging. Her counterpart in Marius (Gabriel Martinez), a student revolutionary, shared her talents, with a strong yet beautiful tenor voice. Together, the chemistry between the two was evident, with the beautiful “A Heart Full of Love” showcasing their excellent vocal blend. Also of note was the well-executed heartbreak of Eponine (Mareina Mitchell), whose secret love for Marius went unrequited.
Despite the intensity and dramatic quality of the production, the Le Mis cast was equally great at delivering moments of levity. Madame Thénardier (Lara Alarapon) in particular stood out due to exceptionally strong vocals and constantly engaging physicality, bringing life and laughter to the bawdy character. Gavroche (Ashley Antezana), a young boy fighting in the rebellion, was another stand-out performance with passion, energy, and on-point execution that rivaled many major characters.
Unique special effects, orchestrated by Walker Borgmann, and staging elements were also well-utilized in crafting the world of the Paris Rebellion. Two projectors, one slightly off stage and one in the background, were used to display the time period and help set the scene for the show, each helping to ground the audience in the proper setting and help viewers keep track of what could have been a chaotic script. The entirety of St. Andrews’ small stage was used very well, with actors placed to create an effective balance and pleasing visual picture, while at the same time not distracting from the emotion of the show.
St. Andrews’ production of Les Misérables was a heart-wrenching and inspiring immersion into the world of the Paris Rebellion, with ensembles and both comedic and central characters all coming together to paint a picture of laughter, tears, love, and redemption.
The performance reviewed was presented on Saturday, February 26, 2022.
Review submitted by Carl Parkin of Albert Einstein High School.
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