There is power. There is poverty. There is politics. There is pilfering. But most of all there is passion, both in the music and the story. Les Misérables has justifiably become one of the world’s favourite musicals, and it is capable of lifting audiences to great heights of emotion, and to their feet at the end of a performance such as this.
The G & S Society has excelled itself in this splendid production. It is an all new look at Les Mis by director and designer David Lampard, with dramatic, and effective sets, a huge cast, a fine orchestra at the expert hands of Ross Curtis, apposite costumes by Bronwen Major, and some superb soloists.
The design uses the colours of the French flag in lighting, costumery and sets to emphasise emotional content, and effectively uses curtains flying up, down and sideways to create micro-areas for intimate scenes. The flying in of the barricade in bits is a master stroke.
Against this finely engineered infrastructure of conception, design, music and stagecraft, the cast take off and deliver. There is great energy in their singing and chorus movement. Diction is clear, particularly from the men, and the whole chorus work integrates smoothly with that of the principals.
It is amongst the principals that some simply wonderful signing is delivered. Rebecca Raymond is a charming Cosette, with a beautiful well controlled voice. Rachel Rai excelled in her “On my Own”, and Andrew Crispe brought a strong, fine voice and portrayal to the role of Marius. Another fine tenor is Paul Talbot (Enjolras) although the passion of the music was not always reflected in his movements. There was a little inconsistency of pitch in Tom Millhouse’s ensemble singing as Javert, which was entirely forgiven in his solo work.
But the undisputed star was Mark Oates as Jean Valjean. He really comes into his own in this role, which he plays with passion, musicality drama and clear talent. His “Bring Him Home” was an absolute tour de force. The work is really Valjean’s story, and Mark Oates tells it with class.
Of course there were occasional first night hiccups with the odd wig, sound, projection and mike coordination glitches, which make amateur theatre what it is. Nevertheless with a cast and crew of this calibre, these will be ironed out with alacrity.
This Les Mis is a credit to all involved. As Ross Curtis writes in his notes, if you’ve seen it before, this production will bring new insights. If you haven’t - fasten your seat belt!
The Gilbert & Sullivan Society of SA presents
A musical by Alain Boublil & Claude-Michel Schönberg
Based on the novel by Victor Hugo
Venue: Scott Theatre
Dates: May 22 to 31
Times: 22-24 May & 28-31 May at 8pm | 24 & 31 May 2pm | 25 May 5 pm
Bookings: 8447 7239 or Bass on 131 246