Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Reagle Music Theatre's "Les Miserables" Shimmers - Get Your Tickets Now!

At the Barricade
Photo by Herbert Philpott

It takes courage to mount a full production of Les Miserables.  After more than twenty-five years worth of productions all over the world, every theater lover worth his/her salt and Playbill has seen and embraced this show.  Each of us has a firm set of opinions about just how Jean Valjean should look, how Javert should sing "Stars,"  how Fantine should dream her dream, how high the falsetto notes should soar in "Bring Him Home," and how rousing the students should sound in "Do You Hear the People Sing?"  And woe be to the director and cast who would disappoint in any of these dimensions!  Never fear.  Under the brilliant direction of David Hugo, The Reagle Music Theatre's current production is a roaring success.  With a brilliant cast to work with, wonderful scenery designed by Robert Klingelhoefer and stunning lighting by David Wilson, Mr. Eagle delivers on the unspoken promise to curate this beloved work of art with love and care.

Ian Rutherford as Jean Valjean
Photo by Herbert Philpott
The audience that filled the performance space was delighted throughout the two and and half hour spectacle.  Ivan Rutherford was born to portray Prisoner #24601.  He has performed the role of Valjean over 2,000 times, yet the performance he gave last weekend was as fresh and vibrant as if he were stealing the Bishop's silver for the very first time.  His voice never faltered throughout the vocal marathon that this part calls for.  Matching him note for note was the gifted Doug Jabara as Javert. His rendition of "Stars" was indeed the highlighted it was intended to be.

Other standouts in this excellent cast include Ross Brown as Marius.  He gave a flawless portrayal of the young student torn between love for Cosette and duty to his fellow revolutionaries.  Kathryn McKellar as Cosette brings a crystal clear and beautiful operatic voice to the role, although I could have wished for more range in her facial expressions.  She came across to me as a bit of a porcelain doll.  Eponine is played magnificently by Mara Wilson in one of the most stunning performances of the evening.  This Walnut Hill student brings a nuanced approach to her singing of "On My Own" that I have seldom seen matched by actresses with many more years experience.  The iconic "I Dreamed A Dream" was handled with great class and passion by Angela Richardson as Fantine.  Her death bed scene was particularly moving.  Eowyn Young as young Cosette and Danny Harrington as Gavroche brought a youthful freshness to their roles that was spot on.  As Enjolras, the leader of the student revolt, David Carney has the physical presence and vocal chops to carry off the role with aplomb.  A subtle point that caught my eye was the nice chemistry that developed among the students as Enjolras, Marius and the angry and sullen Grantaire (Phil Tayler) interacted with one another and with Gavroche.

David Carney as Enjolras
Photo by Herbert Philpott

Phil Tayler as Grantaire
in "Drink With Me" 
Photo by Herbert Philpott

The ensemble singing during "Do You Hear The People Sing?" and "One Day More" was rapturous. Supported by an excellent orchestra under the direction of Dan Rodriguez, the voices blended beautifully and filled every inch of the auditorium sonorously.

No production is perfect, so I have some minor quibbles that I will share in the interest of presenting a balanced picture.  I was a bit disappointed by the staging of the Sewer scene and of Javert's suicide.  Even understanding the limitations of budget in a production of this nature, these two scenes could have been staged with a bit more imagination.  The roles of the Thenadiers require a delicate balance to prevent the characters from going off the rails in the direction of buffoonery.  The dramatic and vocal choices made by Rick Sherbourne the Innkeeper and by Maureen Brennan as his wife were not among my favorite parts of the show.  Most of the audience seemed to be amused by them; I was not.  But these are minor quibbles and distractions.

The overall effect was a huge success.  This limited production closes the Reagle Music Theatre season, and can be seen this Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 and Sunday at 2:00 at Waltham High School.  Get your tickets now, because they are going fast.




Anonymous said...

David Hugo (Broadway Veteran) was the Director for this production. Robert Eagle is the Producer of all shows at Reagle Music Theater.

The White Rhino said...

Thank you. I made the correction.