musical based on Victor Hugo's novel
Buskirk Chumley Theatre
June 19-22 and 26-29, 2014
The Cardinal Stage Company’s production of Boublil and Schönberg’s Les Misérables is a very moving thorough going dramatic piece of musical theatre. Saturday night’s audience was more than once moved to cheers, tears, loud applause and even some laughter. The audience rewarded the show with a well deserved standing ovation including cheers for the heroes and boos for the villains acknowledging the show’s melodramatic side.
Pat McRoberts long association with the Boublil and Schönberg’s musical language in Les Mis’ and in Miss Saigon shows in a mature, feeling strongly sung and dramatic performance as the French peasant Valjean. He’s seeking redemption after being imprisoned for nineteen years for stealing a loaf of bread. The production’s Scott Hogsed as the relentlessly pursuing policeman Javert. was a bit more human than I’d imagined, but still potent figure. Amanda Biggs was movingly sympathetic as the abandoned mother Fantine whom Valjean comes to protect. Her singing of “I Dreamed a Dream” is one of the hallmarks of the show. Area sixth grader Lucia Walker was a little noble figure as her daughter Cosette singing the hopeful “Castle on a Cloud.”
One of the many colorful scenes in Cardinal’s production is the rhythmically pounding “Master of the House.” The house is presided over by Mike Price and Laurie Staring as the scheming Thenrdiér’s. They’re a couple out to make a profit out their customer’s successes, their losses and even their deaths. Picking pockets, overcharging , watering drinks and pandering are just a few of the more upright activities of these two delightfully roguish figures and they show up in some surprising places.
Part of the action that inspired Victor Hugo to write Les Misérables takes place during the disaster of the student led June revolution of 1832. Eric Geil was Enjolras a colorful firebrand of the revolutionary spirit. John Anton Putz, Jr. was a charmer as Marius the young intellectual swept up in the action. Hannah Slabagh, as the street wise Eponine, is in love with Marius but his eye has been taken by the briefest chance meeting with Fantine’s daughter Cosette, Jordan Goodmon. Slabagh nearly brought the house down with her impassioned lament “One My Own.”
Les Mis’ is a drama and even a comedy, but it does trade on tears. Ten year old Niccolo Miles was a hit as the wise cracking, street urchin Gavroche. His humorously insightful digs were delightful fun. The Cardinal production had the grace to place his death offstage as one volley of bullets interrupted and a second stilled his song about little people and a pup growing up.
The Cardinal Stage Company’s production of Boublil and Schönberg’s Les Misérables is a wonderful, massive, moving piece of musical theatre. The large thirty-two member cast moves dynamically to the direction of Randy White and the choreography Diane Buzzell. Mark Smith’s sets move their action from the heights of a barricade in the streets of Paris to the depths of its sewers and to lots of places in between. Costume designer Angela Malone has been very inventive in dress that ranges from rags to riches. Conductor and music director Sue Swaney moves her thirteen piece orchestra and the singers in all of Les Mis’s constant musical motion.
The Cardinal Stage Company’s production of Les Misérables at the Buskirk Chumley Theatre has final performances Thursday at two and seven, Friday at seven-thirty and Saturday and Sunday at two and seven.
At the theatre for you, I’m George Walker.