by The Theatre School @ NCRT
I have seen many productions of Les Miserables, from professional to youth theatre, but I have rarely seen it in concert form. The Theatre School @ North Coast Rep did a great job with telling Victor Hugo's epic saga - concert style.
The cast was seated upon the stage and characters would come up to the mics to perform their song, so I appreciated it whenever an actor remained in character while seated. Although, it was distracting when some of the seated actors fidgeted too much or tried to make eye contact with other cast members during the performance.
Siobhan Sullivan Crews' cast of Les Miserables had some standout talent. It takes an actor who reads mature onstage, is an incredible actor, and brings a certain wisdom to the character. Oftentimes, youth directors have to focus on voice when casting Jean Valjean rather than the maturity level of the actor. Unfortunately, this places acting in a secondary position, which inevitably leads to a disconnect between the character and audience. I felt that Ben Read did well in this role both vocally and dramatically; he possesses some natural acting qualities and a suitable voice for Valjean. His renditions of "What Have I done?" and "Who Am I" were memorable, and "Bring Him Home" had some powerful moments. Mr. Read is not alone. Alexa Querin delivered a beautiful performance as the ill-fated Fantine. She conveyed her character's story honestly and flawlessly in, "I Dreamed A Dream."
Other standout performers were Jessica Morilak, Tyler Faison, Abby DeSpain, and Kaitlyn O'Leary. Morilak and Faison's performance as the Thenardiers was extremely comical and "Master of the House" was very entertaining. I could not find one moment where these two actors dropped character. Even when they were seated they stayed in character. I saw Tyler Faison once before in the same role and he has since perfected this character tenfold. Miss Morilak was the epitome as Madame Thenardier. She was mean and nasty and the right amount of lowbrow. Simply fabulous. Abby DeSpain is one to look out for as she matures. She is young but very capable of putting meaning to her verses. Her work as the young lad Gavroche in "Little People" was marvelous.
Jonathan Edzant played our Marius, Marisa Acosta was Cosette, and David Coffey played Enjolras. Carly Lynch and Sean Boyd (who played Thenardier on another evening) were part of the ensemble. It is important to mention them because of their obvious passion for performing. Both were always in character and were enjoyable to watch. Each had some solo singing and performed from within and gave 100%. They seemed to grasp the meaning of "acting."
Eponine was played by Kaitlyn O'Leary, and while young for this role she is very capable as her vocals defy her age. Her vocalization of "On My Own" was near perfection and moving.
The ensemble was great and "One Day More" and "Do You Hear the People Sing" were remarkable and robust.
Performed April 18 - 19, 2014
~ Cast ~
Jean Valjean: Ben Read
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