Les Misérables – Festival Theatre

This production of the musical classic Les Misérables is truly stunning. Every last actor pours their heart and soul into their part, including the members of the ensemble – and it shows. The moment the cast began their final bows, the audience gave a standing ovation, with applause continuing well after the curtain went down.

I am particularly impressed by the casting. Killian Donnelly is incredibly convincing in the role of Jean Valjean, from the beginning to the very last scene. One of the most moving numbers is ‘A Little Fall of Rain’, in large part thanks to Tegan Bannister and Harry Apps’ astounding performances as Éponine and Marius, respectively. If it weren’t for Sophie-Louise Dann and Martin Ball’s hilarious scenes as Mr and Mrs Thénardier, I am convinced that the second act would have reduced everyone in the audience to tears.

Every voice onstage is unique and suits the character well. Fantine (Katie Hall) blew me away with ‘I Dreamed a Dream’. Bronwen Hanson brings across Cosette’s feelings very well, especially in her interactions with the other members of the cast. I would be hard-pressed to pick a favourite among this brilliant and highly skilled cast.

Another part of the performance that deserves a shout-out is the live music. Performed to an impeccable standard, the music provided a brilliant accompaniment to every scene.

The set itself is very dynamic. It is incredible to witness these constant and rapid transformations of the set. I enjoyed watching buildings, bridges, and balconies come on and off the stage from scene to scene, giving each its own unique feeling. The use of balconies and windows to add height and dimension to the scenes featuring more characters is also very clever.

I was pleasantly surprised by the very active role that lighting plays in this production. It is used to create spotlights, mimic the effect of light filtering through a barred window, and in the barricade scenes, to highlight the gunshots that kill every last revolutionary. The lighting is not, nor does it try to be, subtle. I found it refreshing to really be made to notice the hard work that techies put into performances as well.

The use of projections to create backdrops was handled very well. Combined with the smoke on the stage, the projection of the sewers felt real enough that you’d almost be tempted to hold your nose. Every scene has its own colours, which brilliantly highlight the already powerful moods. The only thing that might have been added is a visual cue for the year in which each scene takes place in the first act. However, this would likely have detracted from the realism that the set aims for, so it seems logical that the years are detailed in the program.

This production pays attention to detail in all the right ways. From the rigid way in which Javert (Nic Greenshields) holds himself, to the near-realistic gunfire, to the construction of the barricade prop – everything is polished to perfection. There isn’t a thing I would change.

PHOTOS: Capital Theatres

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Isa Reneman

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