South Lakes High School Les MiserablesBy Cappies • May 11th, 2010 • Category: Cappies
Shots fire across the barricade; one by one, the rebels, clad in the red white and blue stripes of the French flag, fall to the encroaching missiles. But the red flag of the revolution continues to wave, high above the fray–and this was but one of the scenes of South Lakes High School’s production of one of the classic of the stage, Les Miserables.
Les Miserables, based on the 1862 novel by Victor Hugo and adapted by Claude-Michel Schoenberg, follows the lives of several people involved in an uprising in France in the 19th century. Jean Valjean, a convict who has escaped parole, is feverishly pursued by the vindictive Inspector Javert. But after several years, revolution stirs among the French populace–a revolution into which Valjean and his loved ones are to be irresistibly dragged.
South Lakes’s production was backed by a high energy ensemble that featured consistent engagement in the scene as well as incredibly strong vocals, a feature not often seen in high school ensemble casts. The ensemble buoyed the show, especially during intense full-cast numbers such as “Do You Hear the People Sing” and “One Day More.”
By far the most engaging song, however, was the fun, hilarious, and energetic “Innkeeper’s Song,” which introduced the show’s revolting comic relief, the lying, cheating, stealing, Thénardiers. Featuring most of the cast, the song effectively captured the essence of a tavern barroom at night.
Alex Turner, as Thénardier, was by far the most in character of any actor onstage: he fully committed to a variety of distinguishing features. Physically, Turner’s Thénardier was hunched and awkward, a wry sneakiness about him apparent from his introduction; vocally, Turner artfully maintained a coarse, nasal, horrendous accent while still carrying a tune. Turner’s portrayal was so convincing as to make him seem almost too revolting–an irony that contributed well to his performance.
Another actor worthy of mention was Ben Cohn, who portrayed the show’s villain, the justice-bent Inspector Javert. The intimidating Cohn commanded a considerable stage presence and maintained a subdued, almost emotionless demeanor that reflected well the polarized, absolute-driven nature of Javert’s character. Cohn’s singing was impressive, with a particularly moving and emotional final appearance, aptly titled “Javert’s Suicide.”
However, it was Fantine, played by Abbey Coryell, who featured the strongest vocals in the show. Coryell’s smooth and powerful voice was displayed in Fantine’s famous solo, “I Dreamed a Dream;” Coryell’s rendition was among the most moving songs in the entire production.
Rife with silhouette shots and smoke streaming from the ceiling, South Lakes’s lighting effects, run by Kenzy Forman, were nothing short of spectacular. From the entire cast silhouetted by intense light from behind, or a spotlight covered in bars to simulate moonlight cast into a sewer, the show’s lighting never failed to impress.
South Lake’s Les Miserables was an effective and moving performance, especially given the incredibly young age of the cast–many of the lead roles were filled by freshmen or sophomores. South Lakes’s performance is one that the entire cast should be proud of–and considering the youth of the cast as a whole, there can only be even better shows on the horizon.
Stephen White of St. Andrew’s Episcopal School.
Photos by Michael A. Slivinski.
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