Les Miserables
by Justin-Siena Theatre
It’s considered one of the greatest musicals ever written, and Justin-Siena High School’s director, Matthew Teague Miller, knows it well. He was in the national tour for three years, part of that time playing Marius (opposite a Cosette that would eventually become his real-life wife). And his insight is brought to bear on this impressive high school production.

It doesn’t hurt having some good talent, with Justin-Siena High School having more than its fair share of remarkable vocalists. That includes Nick Bellomy as Jean Valjean – the center of Victor Hugo’s classic story – a man who spent twenty years in a French chain gang for stealing a loaf of bread, and who finds life as an ex-con equally difficult. Thanks to the kindness of a bishop, Valjean gets another chance, builds another identity, but is always haunted by his past and the tenacious Inspector Javert. Nick not only delivers on the extremely demanding vocals, including his beautiful prayer Bring Him Home, he actually looks the part of a man who is known for his strength after working twenty years in the chain gang.

The tenacious Inspector Javert is a stunning vocalist as well, with Greg Zobel portraying an angrily determined inspector obsessed with Valjean, his doggedly rigid self-righteousness consuming him and his belief in a world that can only be black and white, Greg’s operatic singing driving home his message with zealous passion whether in prayer or in hatred. And then there’s Alexzandra Owner as Fantine, a single mother struggling to scrounge enough money to send to the people taking care of her daughter Cosette. Alexzandra is not your ordinary Fantine who mostly plays the victim. She starts out as a proud, strong, and defiant woman, making her slow defeat all the more dramatic, and her excellent vocals make for a great rendition of I Dreamed a Dream.

Years later, the intersection of three younger lives drives the story. An adult Cosette raised by Jean Valjean as his own, a young and idealistic student named Marius who falls in love with Cosette, and the girl named Eponine whose love for Marius has gone unrequited – a girl that once grew up with Cosette. The love-at-first-sight couple of Marius and Cosette is generally the weak point of this musical, an undeveloped relationship of two relatively uninteresting characters. Not so in this production. Not only are these the roles that the director and his wife performed together in the national tour, but this production also has Robert Francis and Bridget Huston in the roles – the Tony and Maria from Justin-Siena’s earlier production of West Side Story. They’ve carried their chemistry over to these roles, with both riding emotional waves of anxiety, giddiness, and deep-felt affection. Chelsea Holifield stars as Eponine, the street-wise girl who is head-over-heels for Marius, a man who considers her just a friend. Chelsea is always deep within her character, her love for Marius apparent in her touching solo On My Own and in every subtle movement, even after death.

But it’s not all heavy tragedy. For some comedy, we have Thenardier and his wife, the “Masters of the House” who are the sleazy parents of Eponine and the innkeepers paid to raise Cosette. Jeffrey Gerlomes is Thenardier, a natural comedian who gets a little uncomfortable and embarrassed when his wife (the hilariously greedy and uncouth Fiona Barbour) roasts him in front of the guests (but by the time she’s done, he’s sticking his butt out for the guests to raise their glass up the master’s ass). The two make a great team as they haggle to sell Cosette, make a splash as wedding crashers, and act as not-so-honest innkeepers.

The rest of the cast includes good performances by a spry young Gavroche, a sweetly emotional Young Cosette, and a very serious leader of the student uprising (Eric Quast), as well as the ensemble. Even when all the lights unexpectedly blinked out. When the glitch was fixed a few minutes later, they started back up fully in the moment. Speaking of lights, Tom Durante’s lighting design was top-notch, getting the show off to a cool start with the chain gang seen as silhouettes until the song calls for the sun arising, bringing the light of dawn to the prisoners. The ensemble of prisoners, lovely ladies, and the students willing to fight for the right to be free end each act on inspiring notes.

Performs April 24 - May 2, 2009

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~

Jean Valjean: Nick Bellomy
Javert: Greg Zobel
Fantine: Alexzandra Owner
Eponine: Chelsea Holifield
Cosette: Bridget Huston
Marius: Robert Francis
Enjolras: Eric Quast
Grantaire: ?
Thenardier: Jeffrey Gerlomes
Mdm. Thenardier: Fiona Barbour
Bishop: Mark Marden
The Factory Girl: ?
Factory Foreman: ?
Lovely Ladies:
Libby Francke
Mary Kate Francis
Sophia French
Mary Gerlomes
Allison Fitzgerald
Chelsea Holifield
Bridget Huston
Kellyn Lopes
Isabelle Mieling
Gabby Morrongiello
Raquel Oropeza
MK Pecha
Sarah Pritte
Shannon Wills
Old Woman: ?
Pimp: Jose Balsuto
Babatabois: Reese Onante
Fauchelevant: Mark Marden

~ The ABC Society ~
Combferre: Reid Francis
Courfeyrac: William Perdue
Feully: Reese Onante
Jean Prouvaire: Mark Marden
Joly: Mike Starr
Clarence Say
Jose Balsuto
Andrea Casasco
Caleb Heine
Eric Jameson
Merik Mulcahy

~ Thenardier's Gang ~
Babet: Jose Balsuto
Brujon: Andrea Casasco
Montparnase: Caleb Heine
Claquesos: ?

Bridget Abshear
Fiona Barbour
Jose Basulto
Ali Brown
Katie Corley
Emily Christian
Drew Dorsey
Nicollette Ellis
Marissa Faulkner
Allison FitzGerald
Mercedes Flynn
Reid Francis
Mary Kate Francis
Robert Francis
Sarah Francke
Libby Francke
Sophia French
Chloe Fulton
Mary Gerlomes
Ciara Hanna
Caleb Heine
Stephanie Herwatt
Chelsea Holifield
Cassidy Hopkins
Bridget Huston
Eric Jameson
Kellyn Lopes
Stephanie Lovell
Deanna Maher
Lexi Martin
Annemarie Medonsa
Michelle Medina
Isabelle Mieling
Gabby Morrongiello
Emily Morton
Merik Mulcahy
Reese Onante
Raquel Oropeza
Ali Owner
MK Pecha
William Perdue
Sarah Pritte
Clarence Say
Cami Smith
Michael Starr
Victoria Stuart
Sarah Weakly
Kelly Williams
Stephanie Wills
Shannon Wills

Director: Matthew Teague Miller
Lighting Design: Tom Durante
Set Design: Matthew Teague Miller
Sound Design: Sound Expressions
Costume Design: Olivia Mason
Children's Directors: Chelsea Holifield and Robert Francis
Dramaturg: Jessica Jackson
Music Director: Myles Ellis


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