Review

Les Miserables
by Prescott High School
 
Photo by Sturdevant Photography

Itís considered one of the greatest musicals ever written featuring a soaring score based on Victor Hugoís epic novel that tells the story of Jean Valjean Ė a man in 19th-century France just released from a chain gang after serving two decades for stealing a loaf of bread. When he finds life as an ex-con difficult and unfair, he steals some silver from a bishop, gets caught again by police, but is released thanks to the lie of the kindly bishop who gives Valjean another chance at a good life. A life that will be difficult to come by as his past refuses to let him go, haunted by Inspector Javert and feelings of guilt for the death of Fantine whose daughter he tries to raise. But itís a life that also makes a tremendous story.

One of the greatest musicals, but also one of the most challenging to produce. Prescott High School took on the challenge under the direction of Louisa Nelson and Matthew Kiesling, and put on a surprisingly strong show. Billy Scott Reed stars as Jean Valjean, often capturing his characterís internal struggle as he tries to do whatís right for his adopted daughter and for his soul Ė even as ghosts of the past keep trying to undo him. Ethan Posey is Javert, the self-righteous inspector who can only see the world in stark black-and-white terms, with Ethan playing the role with moral rigidity and some impressive vocals. The two of them face each other over the death bed of Fantine, the single mother of Cosette, with Caroline Marolf lending her prodigious talents to her tragic solo of shattered dreams.

The younger generation includes Charlotte Shipley as Cosette, whose gorgeous operatic voice lifts the ballads often sung with her new love Marius (Jacob Clark) as their sudden romance grows. Marius is a French student whose passion for Cosette is only matched by his devotion to a new political revolution. Completing the triangle is Eponine, one of the most beloved and heartbreaking roles in musical theatre, whose unrequited love for Marius moves her to forsake all for him. Carly Jonovich demonstrates great vocal work, and even more importantly uses shows the genuine love and pain Eponine feels as she walks down her sad path, wobbling in despair as she sings On My Own, knowing her love will never come true, hugging Mariusís arm tightly as she canít stop her life from slipping away.

On a lighter note are the masters of the house, the comically evil Thenardier and his wife who raise a bratty young Eponine (Bria Maskovich) and torture a sweet young Cosette (Brittany Reed). Isaac Benson-White is the conniving and greedy Thenardier and Nicole St. Germain is his equally greedy Madame Thenardier who features some booming, perfect singing for the role. They introduce themselves in the lively Master of the House as they explain their innkeeping strategies, making a good team as they fleece everyone they can, charging them for all the extras including the lice (Madame Thenardier shakes some from her hair into the soup).

Photo by Sturdevant PhotographyNolan Sturdevant leads the idealistic students in their big, inspiring numbers that includes Red and Black, as well as the two soaring, full-cast songs that end each act. The cast really nails these, making for a couple of beautiful and powerful endings. The school was just learning a new music system to complement the accompanist, and on opening night there were a few glitches with synching the music with the show including a shut off just before they reached the concluding notes of the act one finale, but all that did was highlight the stunning chorus of voices rising toward revolution.

Performs November 20 - 22, 2008.

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~

Jean Valjean: Billy Scott Reed
Javert: Ethan Posey
Fantine: Caroline Marolf
Young Cosette: Brittany Reed
Madame Thenardier: Nicole St. Germain
Young Eponine: Bria Maskovich
Thenardier: Isaac Benson-White
Gavroche: Willa Cowan
Enjolras: Nolan Sturdevant
Marius: Jacob Clark
Eponine: Carly Jonovich
Cosette: Charlotte Shipley
Joly: Ethan Kirschbaum
Courfeyrac: Olivia Bedard
Combeferre: Caleb Campbell
Chorus of Characters:
Ali Baker
Audrey Barbe
Alex Benavidez
Patrick Brewer
Victoria Cook
Breanne DeMenna
Cody Desjadon
Chantetl Durham
Maddie Klaus
Kimberly Lough
Rachel Marcinek
Elizabeth Marolf
Savannah Martin
Hannah Palazzi
Amber Quinata
Addie Robertson
Carly Rotolo
Chelsea Tipton
Jennie Tutone
Alyssa Vargha

Director: Louisa Nelson and Matthew Kiesling
Musical Direction: Matthew Kiesling
Vocal Coach: Jennifer Kiesling
Technical Direction: Tracey Mason
Choreography: Carly Jonovich, Caroline Marolf, and Matthew Kiesling
Stage Manager: Matt Brewer
Light Design: Jerica Widdison
Set Design: Scenographics


   

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