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Heritage High School Les Misérables

By • Apr 8th, 2014 • Category: Cappies

Nine men trudge, hunched over, onto a dimly lit stage. Ominous music plays as they fill the space and sharply pantomime digging holes and hammering rocks, chillingly singing about the grueling hard labor they face day after day as prisoners of France. This opening foreshadowed all the pain that would be depicted of common life in the 19th century in Heritage High School’s captivating performance of Les Misérables.

Based on the 1862 novel by Victor Hugo, Les Misérables was composed by Claude-Michel Schönberg and translated into English by lyricist Herbert Kretzmer. The musical debuted in Paris in 1980, and first graced Broadway in 1987. Since then, Les Mis has seen innumeral revivals all over the world, and has received Tony Awards for Best Musical, Book, and Score — it was also made into a hit movie in 2012, for which it won three Golden Globes.

Set in France in the early 1800s, Les Misérables follows Jean Valjean as he seeks redemption for stealing a loaf of bread, serving 19 years in prison, and breaking his parole in pursuit of a life of benevolence. In addition to being constantly hounded by his tormented parole officer Javert, Valjean is immersed in a pool of interesting individuals and impending revolution.

Jamie Brown played the cautious and kind-hearted Jean Valjean. With Les Mis being his first musical, Brown’s astonishingly gifted vocals were apparent in songs like “Bring Him Home,” where he hit difficult falsetto notes with ease, and had a genuine tenderness for all the other characters as Valjean. Opposite Brown, antagonist and tormented officer Javert was portrayed by Vinny Okechukwu in a way whose impeccably haunting vocals made viewers loathe and pity him at the same time.

Madame and Monsieur Thénardier (played by Aiden Orr and Alex Hoyle, respectively) brought a natural comedic relief every time they walked onstage. Their look and physicality had the whole house tickled as they tiptoed around the law and robbed just a few unsuspecting innocents along the way.

Despite some blocking and enunciation issues, the ensemble worked together as an incredibly cohesive whole, but still maintaining individuality by constantly working off of and helping each other as the show progressed, as well as punching meaningful tableaus and silhouettes. The most tight-knit group in the ensemble was that of the Students in the revolution. They took numbers like “Red and Black” and made them fun and unique by interjecting witty, improvised one-liners that made the audience feel like they had been good friends with these revolutionaries for years.

The set featured a turntable that soundlessly gave the audience a look at literally both sides of the story when it spun around to show aspects of a budding relationship, as well as the grim horrors of dead revolutionaries. In addition to the turntable was the famous barricade, which lit up in individual places and even smoked during battle scenes.

Heritage High School brought to the table a fresh interpretation to the second-longest running musical of all time. With a tremendously memorable rendition of Les Misérables, viewers will still be “hearing the people sing” when “tomorrow comes.”

by Zoe Hawryluk of Westfield High School

Photo Gallery

Devin Clawson and Lauren Gold Students at the Barricade
Devin Clawson and Lauren Gold
Students at the Barricade
Alex Hoyle, Aiden Orr Lauren Gold as Eponine
Alex Hoyle, Aiden Orr
Lauren Gold as Eponine
Maria Regina, Devin Clawson, Jamie Brown
Maria Regina, Devin Clawson, Jamie Brown

Photos by Rocco Tenaglia

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