Tuesday, February 25

Les Miserable School Edition

- February 18, 2018

Les Mis is a show I know all too well, a clever, well constructed musical drama filled with great and challenging songs that stay with you. It’s a big, bold work that takes a great deal of energy to get right and it must surely be a challenge to any company and in particular to a company of young performers working with what must surely be a tight budget and limited resources.

Well hats of to the remarkable Katy Markey and her company entirely made of drama students. From the very start we were aware that we were to witness something quite extraordinary. Where Ms Markey finds all this young talent is a mystery, not a weak member of the large cast, surely she has struck gold here on the south coast.

Firstly praise must go to the ensemble who deliver the big numbers with skill and conviction, each song sounding exactly as my memory of the West End production recalls, and I have seen that 12 times.

Secondly to the principals who pull of the many complex duets, trios, quartets and more, these are no easy “show tunes” or pop ballads.

Last and not least to the principals. Here we saw young stars who knew how to not only sing a song but to act that song. Particular praise must go to Abi Walter whose Eponine was marvellously delicate and finely sung. Praise too for Phoebe Cook and Hari Johnson as the deliciously vile Thenardiers, the only comic performance in what is a dark piece, was given with a maturity that belies their tender years. Max Bower’s Javert was similarly mature, dark and brooding, never once allowing the audience to see that he is a very young man and truly owning each and every one of his solo numbers. Finally Ernest Stroud in the demanding role of Jean Valjean, demanding in so many ways, energy, acting, singing and also ageing – Ernest did this all with a level of profession skill that startled!

Full marks for MS Markey, her production team and the whole of this excellent cast.

17 February

Roedean School Theatre

Andrew Kay

Rating: ★★★★★

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