Les Miserables: School Edition
by San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts

Victor Hugo’s classic nineteenth-century novel was turned into a groundbreaking musical that enjoyed one of the longest runs in Broadway history beginning in the mid-1980s. The powerful story has a soaring musical score that enhances the moods and emotions like few achieve. It’s also one of the more difficult productions to mount, making it all the more impressive when a high school tackles it. Which is what the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts is currently doing.

The epic tale is that of Jean Valjean, beginning with his release from a French prison chain gang where he suffered twenty years after stealing a loaf of bread. Upon his release, he gets a second chance after stealing silver from a kindly bishop, the bishop telling the authorities that he gave the silver to Valjean, then telling Valjean to use that silver to do good. But Valjean’s past, and the tenacious, stonehearted Inspector Javert, haunt Valjean as he creates his new life.

Adam Covalt shines as Jean Valjean, nailing the difficult vocals and subtly generating strong emotions as we see his character struggling with his conscience and his soul – from his life-changing choice to fulfill the bishop’s wish, to turning himself in rather than have an innocent man condemned in his place, to his decision on the fate of Javert, to his prayer for the young man who loves the girl he raises as a daughter with the beautiful Bring Him Home.

The cast is full of fantastic voices that make the sublime, haunting music all the more effective. Bethany Slomka is the spunky Eponine whose unrequited love for young university student Marius drives her songs and her courage. Her death scene is movingly performed by her and Marius (James Maslow). James is a charming and sonorous Marius who beams in the presence of his true love – the young Cosette (Lydia An) being raised by Valjean. The three of them combine for some terrific ballads. Other remarkable singing performances come from Melissa Magana as Cosette’s mother Fantine, Victoria Matthews offers a sweet solo as Young Cosette, and Benjamin Roy as the Bishop and later as teasing student Grantaire.

Daniel Mendoza and Natasha Cortes inject some over-the-top humor into the show as the “Masters of the House” – greedy, grimy innkeepers who sell young Cosette to Valjean but later decide their asking price was too low. Andrew Davis is the rigidly self-righteous Inspector Javert who sees everything as either good or evil, doggedly pursuing Jean Valjean, and doing so with a proper, disdainful air to him. Elsewhere, the charismatic Matt Ignacio leads an impressive group of students who seem both playfully young and seriously impassioned in their cause, while the rest of the ensemble mix their vocals together marvelously.

Overall Director Neil Rothschild’s show boasts good production values with a nice job by Set Designer Linda Gilbreath on the barricade and some excellent lighting effects by Eric Lotze. That lighting is especially striking in the battle scene as it illuminates the smoke generated by a fog machine – a battle fog that on the first Friday night was brought home to the audience in more ways than one when it set off the theatre’s smoke detectors and the audience had to flee the fight for a few minutes! 

Performs December 8 - 17, 2005.

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~

Jean Valjean: Adam Covalt
Javert: Andrew Davis
Fantine: Melissa Magana
Eponine: Bethany Slomka
Cosette: Lydia An
Marius: James Maslow
Enjolras: Matt Ignacio
Thenardier: Daniel Mendoza
Madame Thenardier: Natasha Cortes
Gavroche: Carissa Villena
Bishop: Benjamin Roy
Young Cosette: Victoria Matthews
Young Eponine: Audrey Vogel
Bamatabois: Daniel Konar
Feuilly: Andra Caston
Combeferre: Javier Garcia
Courfeyrac: Vincent Hardy
Joly: Dustin Evans
Grantaire: Benjamin Roy
Lesglas: Lawrence Burroughs
Pouvaire: Lorenzo Burroughs
The Company:
Eleanor Bernstein
Erica Bucholz
Lawrence Burroughs
Lorenzo Burroughs
Janessa Carnachop
Andra Caston
Megan Dray
Colin Eldred-Cohen
Dustin Evans
Javier Garcia
Sarah Goodwin
Vincent Hardy
Dylan Haro
Ashleigh Holmes
Kathryn Imler
Lia Keane
Daniel Konar
Timothy Lindvall II
Rose Markowitz
Chauncey Matthews
Olivia Moller
Vincent Padilla
Jarel Paguio
Valerie Purcell
Benjamin Roy
Chloe Rozok
Matt Smith
Britney Swanson
Kristina Torres
Mark Watkins II

Director: Neil Rothschild
Vocal Direction and Conductor: Gail McKinney
Set Design: Linda Gilbreath
Costume Design: Elizabeth Kimery
Lighting Design: Eric Lotze


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