Earlston pupils pull off Les Mis masterpiece
Amazing! Fantastic! Phenomenal! Those are just some of the words used to describe last week's shows.
Once again, Jeff Thomson produced a spectacular show to wow capacity audiences.
Authentic scenery, excellent lighting and sound, fabulous costumes and superb acting all combined to spellbind everyone lucky enough to get a ticket.
The musical by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg and based on the novel by Victor Hugo is set in France in the early nineteenth century. It tells the story of escaped prisoner Jean Valjean being relentlessly pursued by police inspector Javert during the Paris student uprising. Javert must confront his ideals after Valjean spares his life and saves that of Marius, the student who has fallen in love with Cosette, Valjean’s adopted daughter.
Earlston High School pupils mastered the complex but beautiful music with superb acting and the emotion shown by the cast was unbelievable.
The demanding part of Jean Valjean was more than ably played by Mitchell Green. His strong singing voice and mature acting stirred up the emotions of everyone there, and his rendition of Bring him Home brought the house down. His pursuer, Javert, was played by Jack McAulay who conveyed his dourness and suspicious nature with ease but still managed to win people’s sympathy come his suicide. His singing was effortless with his peformance of Stars, aided by lighting effects, bringing the audience out in goose bumps.
James Bennet as Marius used his dashing good looks and tenor voice to win the affections of Cosette and you could feel the emotion as he sang Empty Chairs and Empty Tables. He was ably supported by Evan Anderson who played Enjolras, the charismatic leader of the student rebels, and Luke Thomson who made his stage debut as young street boy Gavroche. Luke oozed confidence, bringing his character’s sheer cheekiness to the fore with Little People.
With their great sense of timing, facitial expressions and fabulous voices, inkeeper Thenardier (Simon Thomson) and his wife Madame Thernadier (Aimee Goodship), brought humour to the show and had the audience in stitches throughout.
The school has such an abundance of talent that each main female role was shared. Fantine was played by Robyn Smith and Richeldis Brosnan, Eponine by Catriona Lamb and Eliana Capstick, Cosette by Imogen Hoppe and Katrina Smith and young Cosette by Catriona Moore and Neve Clark.
Fantine died early in the story but not before she enchanted us with I Dreamed A Dream. Cosette, Fantine’s daughter had a beautiful soprano voice and it was easy to understand why Marius fell in love with her. Eponine, the Thernadier’s daughter, conveyed the pain of her unrequited love with On My Own and you could have heard a pin drop when she sang A Little Fall of Rain. Young Cosette sang Castle on a Cloud with ease managing to convey the sadness of her situation.
The chorus numbers all raised the roof and left the audience wanting more and mention must be made of Jan Baird who, along with Jeff, was responsible for the choreography and staging.
The battle at the barricade scene was so realistic and heart stopping that it seemed unkind to actually applaud when it finished.
The backstage crew must be commended for the very slick scene and costume changes.The professionalism of the sound and lighting technology was tricky but very effective. Last but not least, a fantastic orchestra provided the icing on the cake.
This production was worthy of being in the West End in London and after a tear jerking finale the audience were left speechless and emotionally drained.