Cardinal Chirp Ohio Virtual Academy Maumee, OH
Issue Date: Tuesday, January 03, 2012 Issue: 5-4 Last Update: Friday, January 06, 2012
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At-a-glance

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A Note to the Reader: Hello everyone! I felt it would be important to give you ample warning as to the length of this article. It was supposed to be just a quick review of this fantastic play, but turned into a rather long-winded summary. I apologize for any inconvenience this may bring. I am very grateful for your forbearance here. You see, while I have never been good at reviews, I knew this one in particular would be difficult to keep brief because I have been obsessed with this play for over 8 years. I have tried to whittle it down, but simply had to indulge myself a bit as this truly is a remarkable subject. Thank you for your patience! As one last note, I would also like to add that, because of my obsession, I knew my own review would be rather biased. To try to counter this fact, I have asked our beloved Ms. Palmer for her own review, as she saw it only 2 nights after I did. This review is included with mine at the end of this summary.

 

TOLEDO, OH--A crowd filled with jittery, tingling fans, the very air itself bearing a hint of excitement. A giant room, packed with people shouting over each other, suddenly hushed by the slow, gentle lowering of light until the room is black and still. The stage glows with a mysterious, foreboding, misty light, slightly green in color, to reveal the belly of a ship powered by prisoners. These poor souls, together forming what is known as the chain gang, row to the ever-present pounding of a gavel held by a guard behind them. Another walks the aisle, watching them with his wary eye and wicked lash; his cruel smirk daring any man among them to see what happens when one acts out. A magnificent, full orchestra comes in, adding a brilliant musical score to the beat of the gavel, as these men raise their voices in anger and agony; singing of the good days gone, the heat of the sun, or heart-wrenching prayers for death to come swiftly: “Look down, look down, you’ll always be a slave. Look down, look down, you’re standing in your grave,” is the repeated cry of these tortured minds.

 

Enter Javert (played by Andrew Varela), our by-the-book, legalistic, justice-obsessed presence. We quickly find him to be at the head of these guards. At his appearance, a ship whistle blows; the men stand, and in a shackled line begin to exit the stage.

Javert calls out for “prisoner 24601,” and an intriguing exchange follows. A filthy, unshaven man, covered in torn, thin, ripped, and worn clothes, with metal shackles on his hands and feet, is brought before him. His pitiful form is forced to kneel as Javert reads to him from a sheet of paper, voice short, clipped, and business-like. It is clear he cares not for this man, he is simply performing his duty.

 

In his condescending voice, Javert explains that this prisoner’s time is up, and his parole has begun. Upon asking the man if he knew the meaning of this, the response is, “Yes, it means I’m free!” Javert makes it very clear this is not the case. He lays out the man’s charges: Nineteen years in jail: five for stealing a loaf of bread, the rest because he tried to run. In Javert’s mind, the man was a thief, is a thief, and always will be a thief. As he makes this point very clear to our man, the man defends every charge, standing up for what little pride he once had. When Javert calls him 24601 yet again, he quips, “My name is Jean Valjean!”

 

Javert meets this with his own name, and as Jean Valjean (played by the wonderful J. Mark McVey) is handed a small sack containing his few belongings before being released, the upright policemen steps close, looking down with a snide glare straight in his eyes. “Do not forget my name… Do not forget me, 24601!” he threatens before stalking off.

 

Jean Valjean is left alone on the stage to explore this world that had forgotten him so many years ago. We are introduced to his bitter hatred of the men that imprisoned him. Next, in what appears to be a quaint village scene, we see him working in a field. At the day’s end, he follows the rest to the foreman to collect his pay. The soft, pleasant music suddenly turns harsh when Jean Valjean turns back to the man in a fit of rage, shouting, “You have given me half what the other men get. This handful of tin wouldn’t buy my sweat!” Another worker then cries out, “You broke the law, it’s there for people to see! Why should you get the same as honest men like me?” A fight breaks out, and Jean Valjean is beaten and left in the dirt. He grabs his bag and limps into the village, surrounded by laughing children, men, and women in the busy street.


He sings sadly, “Now every door is closed to me, another jail, another key, another chain, for when I come to any town they check my papers and they find the mark of Cain. In their eyes, I see their fear-we do not want you here!” He makes his way through the crowd until he reaches an inn, where the hostess blocks his entrance at the door. He is told the rooms are full, and there’s no food to spare. He begs, offering to pay in advance, even sleep in the barn, to which the innkeeper’s husband threatens him. “You’ll leave my house, or feel the weight of my rod, we’re law-abiding people here, thanks be to God.” he states, provoking Jean Valjean’s anger once more. Another fight breaks out, and as the mob dissipates, Jean Valjean’s broken body lies out on the cold, hard ground.

 

From across the street, an old bishop calls, bringing him in, offering him a chair at his table, food and wine, even having his maid set out the fine silver to eat with. Along with this beautiful display, two large, beautiful, silver candlesticks light the table. This first act of mercy makes Jean Valjean suspicious, wary… and greedy. The bishop then has a bed made up for him, in his own home. Most men would have left it at that, and been thankful. But Jean Valjean, a scorned man, filled with hate towards a world that always mistreated him, could only think of how much the silver was worth… and how easily it could be taken. “When the house was still, I got up in the night-took the silver, took my flight!” he cries, throwing the pieces into his sack and running into town.

 

The next morning finds him in the rough hands of two police officers, dragging him back to the bishop’s home. They found him trying to sell the silver, and recognized it as belonging to the bishop. They knew of his crime of thievery from his parole papers, and wouldn’t believe the story he gave them, that story being the bishop, after hearing of Jean Valjean’s plight, made a present of the silver.


They repeat the story to the bishop, who replies, “That is right.” At this, Jean Valjean looks up, bewildered. The bishop adds: “But my friend you left so early, surely something slipped your mind! You forgot I gave these also, would you leave the best behind?” he then hands him the candlesticks to prove his innocence. The bishop dismisses the officers and turns to the stunned-to-silence Jean Valjean. “But remember this my brother, see in this some higher plan: you must use this precious silver to become an honest man. By the witness of the martyrs, by the passion and the blood, God has raised you out of darkness… I have bought your soul for God.” the then pats his back and turns to leave. Jean Valjean, shoulders weighed down with regret, tries to give back the candlesticks. They are refused kindly, and the men part ways.

 

And so begins Les Miserables, one of the greatest plays of all time. It was derived from the masterful work of Victor Hugo by the same name, and shall forever live on in the hearts of those brave enough to flip the cover of the 1,222 page, 149 year old French novel.

 

Now, for those of you that have any interest in plays, or, for that matter, have ever read a book or watched a movie, be prepared to have your mind blown. We are all used to seeing or hearing stories that tell you of one major character, and the occasional subplot. This is the old, cozy, familiar format we have come to cherish. We have one person to focus on, to fall in love with, and we live out their life in our minds. Not so in Les Miserables.


The moment the scene with the bishop ends, we are thrown into a chaotic mass of characters, each with their own pitiful, miserable back story, and each climbing the ladder of climax to a beautiful, gruesome, fearful, or peaceful demise. It’s almost like walking down your neighborhood sidewalk… but with insight. The first new character we are introduced to after Jean Valjean, Javert, and the bishop, is poor, dear Fantine (Betsy Morgan). 


But indulge me a bit more on the first two afore mentioned names. (Yes, yes, I know, get on with it already. I promise, this is important. Just hang in there. We haven’t reached the best part yet!)


Throughout the play, Jean Valjean and Javert will take on the roles that are nearest what we could call the main parts. They are endlessly deepened in character until you swear you could have met them on the street (that is, if you lived in France between 1815-1832, around the time of the June Rebellion). Jean Valjean becomes an upright man, turning entirely aside from his earlier barbaric ways after his encounter with the bishop. Javert forever remains the legalistic policeman that is so firmly rooted in the law that he cannot bring himself to scrape the surface of mercy or grace. The only form of justice is that taught him in the “book of law” where there is no room for pity. And no matter who you are, what you’ve done, or to what measure you’ve done it, “justice” will be brought to the exact degree the law demands. These two men will, for the remainder of our play, hold the main seat of conflict, and our old, familiar battle of good verses evil… or in this case, grace verses justice, on their shoulders.

Shortly after the candlestick moment, our dear Jean Valjean tears up his parole papers, breaks parole, changes his name, buys a factory, and becomes the mayor of his town. Not too shabby for a man just off the chain gang. It is in this factory that we meet Fantine.

Because of the risqué content of the following scenes, and out of love for our dear editors, I shall quickly summarize what we learn of Fantine’s life. She works in Jean Valjean’s factory, below a rather disreputable foreman, to put it lightly. 


She is called aside while working to receive a letter that has come in with the mail. It  is snatched from her by a bitter co-worker as soon as the foreman’s back is turned. This woman proceeds to read the letter aloud, where everyone can hear of the somewhat shocking news of an illegitimate child she’s hidden away in the possession of some innkeepers. The contents of this letter are thus: “Dearest Fantine: you must send us more money, Cossette needs a doctor, there’s no time to lose.” When Fantine demands the letter be returned to her, shaming the snooping woman in the process, a fight breaks out. Jean Valjean steps in, and instructs the foreman to pull the women apart. He then turns the matter over to him, and leaves the stage.


To make a long story short, Fantine is turned out on the street with no way of providing for her child, for whom she must pay the innkeepers for daily care and groceries. A long strand of unfortunate events take place, one thing leads to another, and for the good of her child she becomes a prostitute-the only way of getting the money required in time. She becomes ill, and after a certain incident a man reports her to the police. She is arrested by none other than our own Javert.


As Javert is taking her, she begs him to let her free for the sake of her dying daughter. He stands firm, unmoved by her cries for pity. “Let’s have no more protestations, save your breath and save your tears. Honest work, just reward; that’s the way to please the Lord,” he states emphatically. As he says this, our dear Jean Valjean appears on the street, calling to Javert. He steps forward, and we realize that, as he is now the well-known mayor, cleaned up from what he once was, Javert doesn’t recognize him as the prisoner he’s chased for 8 years.


Jean Valjean proclaims that he believes the woman’s story, and to Javert’s dismay orders her released. “I’ve seen your face before… Show me some way to help you.” Valjean whispers to the girl, who begs it not to be a trick. After his reassuring words, she tells him that she was the woman sent away by his foreman. He is much grieved by this, realizing that it is his fault she has come to such shame, pain, and disgrace. She is carried off to the hospital under his orders, and a rather surprising scene follows.


A cry of “Look out! It’s a runaway cart!” splits the air, and a brilliant use of light and props creates a scene of fear in which a cart, bearing a heavy load, tears through the streets until being stopped… with a man beneath the wheel.


A distraught crowd is gathered around, gaping in horror, not a soul willing to risk their own necks to save him. Jean Valjean tries to rally someone to his aid unsuccessfully, and in the face of this steps forward himself, grabs the cart, and carefully lifts it as some from the crowd rush up to pull the poor man out from underneath.  Javert, seeing the astonishing fete, is as awed as the crowd.

 

The strength of the mayor has stirred up a memory… The memory of 24601, the only man of the mayor’s age that he’s ever known to be so strong. A scene stiff with anxiety on the part of both characters ensues, in which they speak of this man who broke parole 8 years ago and has been on the run since. But we are all surprised to hear, towards the end of this exchange, that 24601 has been rearrested, and will come to court that very day. The audience, of course, is aware that this cannot be true, for Jean Valjean is the mayor, and therefore the mayor himself is 24601-and clearly he has not been arrested.


“I have known the thief for ages, tracked him down through thick and thin, and to make the matter certain, there’s the brand upon his skin. He will bend. He will break. This time, there is no mistake.” Javert declares, when Jean Valjean questions him. At this Javert departs, leaving Valjean alone to mourn this fate.

 

We listen to his inner turmoil as he battles himself. Should he reveal his true identity and save this innocent man they think is he, or forever live a lie and have a life of relative ease and comfort? What would the workers in his factory do without him, when the business closed? But could he ever forgive himself for condemning this man? At this, a courthouse crops up around him with yet another masterful change of props, and he declares to the court that he himself is 24601 and runs for his life.

 

Before clearing out, and with Javert hot on his tail, he flies to the hospital, where Fantine is dying. They sing together, as he assures her that he himself will raise her daughter Cossette. As she slips away into forever sleep, Javert appears in the doorway, chains in hand. “Valjean, at last, we see each other plain. Monsieur le Maire, you’ll wear a different chain!” he growls. A duet of epic proportions follows, in which they sing in counter parts, emphasis placed on both in a rotating fashion as they battle… at first civilly, using only speech, and ending with a fistfight.


I have to say, I can’t help but shake my head at the brilliance of this scene, where the last words are a perfect summary: Jean Valjean promises the dead Fantine he will keep her daughter, and “raise her to the light”. Javert, of course, threatens his constant, searching presence. Valjean then knocks him out and again runs.


The scene is quickly changed, and the curtain in front of the back half of the stage is lifted to reveal a sloppy dwelling, which we soon find to be the inn to which Cossette was entrusted. A couple of tables are spread around, with chairs resting on them. A solitary, tiny figure stands amongst them, carrying a broom and a saddened, hollow expression. The skinny, dirty girl begins to sweep hastily, singing a heart-wrenching song of her “castle on a cloud”, where there are other children with which to play, no floors to sweep, no crying allowed, and perhaps best of all a beautiful, soft woman clothed in white to love and hold her. The music turns rough and a woman of great girth appears, making fun of the young girl, snobbishly tossing her a bucket.

 

We find the girl is Cossette (Maya Jade Frank), and as the scene unfolds, the fraud of these innkeepers becomes clear. They have taken advantage of poor Fantine’s hard earned provisions and spent them on their own girl, Eponine, and horribly abused Cossette. She is sent out to the “well in the wood” for water. For a young girl her age, this is of course a very fearful trip into a dark abyss.


After Cossette has left the scene in tears, this “inn” opens up and we see how truly twisted these Thenardier’s (the innkeepers) really are. The inn is more of a pub then a place to stay, and the hosts do all they can to keep the guests drunk enough to swindle them. Madame Thenardier (Shawna M. Hamic) and Thenardier (Richard Vida) are more interested in nickel and diming people to death than making an honest living.


The scene gains speed and becomes a twirling, fast paced, chaotic scene of drunkards and the hosts that content themselves in “picking up their knick-knacks when they can’t see straight!” By the time the music and festivities have ended, they have successfully over charged and stolen from every customer in the place, including some nice new shoes taken right off of a blind man’s feet. These people will pop up now and again for the remainder of the play, making themselves so horribly despised that they become your comic relief.

Flash back to the woods, where we find poor little Cossette cowering along the path, tripping over a sloshing bucket much too large and heavy for her, until Jean Valjean appears. After helping her and discovering her to be the child he’s after, they trot back to the inn, singing together. Upon his arrival, and the woeful tale of Fantine’s demise, these despicable people put on a well-practiced act, making it seem as though they’ve treated Cossette as their own daughter, weeping over Fantine’s death as if they actually cared at all. After what is known as the “Waltz of Treachery”, Valjean pays the two off and gains custody of the child. Before leaving, he steps aside with Mr. Thenardier and whispers, “Thank you both for Cossette… I’m sure it won’t take you too long to forget.” with a glimmer in his eye, just so they know he’s on to them.


A short scene in which one can’t help smiling and tearing up for follows, in which the man and young girl are walking home. They are nearly instantly close, and he warms to her as a father to his own daughter. Then a brief musical interlude allows another change of scenes, skipping a full 9 years into the future.


For the sake of time, I will try to wrap up quickly… but there is much that occurs in the second half of our play, and so many characters that absolutely must get mentioned. So, instead of a summary, let me just give a brief look into these new characters we meet before closing. I stated before that this play takes place around the time of the June Rebellion. The story is coming to a close now, the end of which shows a tragic war has broken out, and ended.

The first character introduced here is little 8-year-old Gavroche (Anthony Pierini, whom you may have seen on ABC’s “Body of Proof” or some Claritin commercials). Everyone instantly falls in love with him. He is a patriotic sort, and declares that he runs this town, not the inspector-who, you may not be surprised to find, is Javert. He takes part in the revolutionary’s activities, and his anthem steals the hearts of all those in the crowd not yet in love with him and his passionate innocence. “Little people know, when little people fight, we may look easy pickin’s but we got some bite! So never kick a dog because he’s just a pup-you better run for cover when the pup grows up!” the feisty young boy cries.


Gavroche’s role is, perhaps, the most tear jerking of them all. During the last battle on the barricade, the rebels have run out of ammunition. A quick scuffle ensues between some other characters-including Valjean-to decide who will go out into the street beyond the semi-safety of the barricade, to gather bullets from the dead. Gavroche calls out to volunteer and in a flash of bravery leaps over the barricade before anyone can stop him. The audience is forced to sit helplessly along with the other rebels, listening to the horrid scene. The young lad sings his song as he comes under fire, sustaining three shots before the last takes him out. He never gets the chance to finish the phrase “when the pup grows…”


One of the minor players, Grantaire (Joseph Spieldenner), serves only to heighten the emotion, as on the last shot, just before a deathly, sullen silence, the spotlight flashes down to center stage where he falls to his knees with an anguished cry of, “NO!” followed by his hopeless sobs.


The second character we meet is, in my opinion, the only character that can rival the depth of emotion caused in Gavroche’s death. Perhaps it would be incorrect to say that we have not been introduced to her before. This person is Eponine (Chasten Harmon), daughter of the Thenardiers, now a young adult. We find that she’s street-smart: “That’s Eponine, she knows her way about. Only a kid, but hard to scare.” they sing as she throws a man with less-then-pleasant intentions to the ground. It takes a good while for the audience to look past her family name until we find that she has a childish crush on a law student and revolutionary, named Marius (Played by the magnificent Max Quinlan). She loves him, but he sees her only as a friend.

 

Now, at this time, I must change gears and tell you a bit about Marius before finishing Eponine’s tale. Marius is the brother of Enjolras (Jeremy Hays), the leader of the revolution. They are a part of the group of students that begin this rebel movement, filled with pity for the poor. Marius has known Eponine for a long time, though the actual length of their friendship is never disclosed. (Warning: It is quite possible I’ll get a bit bitter as I explain the next few events… I never quite forgave him for his stupidity when it comes to love.) It is in one of the first interactions we see between the two, where Eponine is teasing him and he playing with her, that he backs into a young mistress in the crowd, and in a solitary flash of light their eyes meet… and they instantaneously fall madly in love without a single word being exchanged. The mistress? Cossette (now played by the irritatingly high-pitched, soprano Jenny Latimer)!

Marius, unaware of the obvious love Eponine has for him, begs her to find the girl of his dreams and bring him to her, which breaks her heart. She helps them meet, and watches with tears in her eyes as they fall deeper into love. The viewer at last begins to soften towards her as she joins their song, their parts a love-filled, gleeful duet, hers a broken-hearted sob of, “He was never mine to lose. Why regret what cannot be? These are words he’d never say-not to me, not for me.”


It is then that Mr. Thenardier, now a common street robber and sewer rat, comes along. He and his gang have it in their minds to rob Valjean and Cossette’s home, and Eponine sees them. Her father disowns her when she screams in an attempt to warn those inside, but it is this scream which Cossette claims as her own to cover the visitors, telling her father that the shadows of those robbers scared her, that spooks Valjean who thinks that Javert has found him (which he has). He tells Cossette, with Marius within ear shot, that they will be leaving on a ship to England the day following.


As this is occurring, the rebellion has begun, and Marius must decide to either follow Cossette across the sea or fight with his brother and friends. With grief in his heart, he knows he must stay and Eponine, without a place to go or a friendly face but his to see, dresses as a boy and joins the rebels. Marius recognizes her, and after realizing she does not intend to leave, he has an idea. He gives her a letter for Cossette, asking her to take it to his love, both to keep Eponine out of harms way and taking her for a God-sent messenger.


She makes her lonely way to Rue Plumet, Valjean’s home, where Valjean intercepts the letter and warns her to be careful on her way back. Valjean reads the passionate letter, unaware of Marius and Cossette’s love, and realizes that this boy at the barricade truly loves her, and is protective of her. Valjean has been realizing that he is old, he wont be there much longer to care for and protect Cossette, and sees that this lad must come home alive to take Valjean’s place in her life before he dies.


We find Eponine wandering the streets alone, and it is in this song, her one solo, that the audience’s heart melts for her. She sings a magical song called “On My Own” that reveals how deep her love of Marius really is, declaring that at night she can pretend he’s with her, and even though she knows it’s only a fantasy, she’s content with the company she’s keeping. For the last verse, the music swells, her voice fills the room all the way to the rafters with a love-filled, heart broken, sorrowful sound as she cries at the morning sun, for “when the night is over, he is gone… The river’s just a river. Without him, the world around me changes; the trees are bare and everywhere the streets are full of strangers. I love him, but everyday I’m learning: all my life, I’ve only been pretending. Without me, his world will go on turning. The world is full of happiness that I have never known…” Here the music and her voice collide into the climax, which resonates a moment in the air like the sweet aftertaste of a rare treat on your lips. Then the music comes in once again, much softer now, and her voice meets it as she nearly whispers, “I love him… I love him… I love him… But only on my own.” After lingering a moment, she hastily exits the stage, a curtain lifts, and we are at the barricade.


After a few minor battles, and just before the final one, we see Eponine for the last time. Someone shouts, “There’s a boy climbing the barricade!” to which all level their gun barrels at the form, but Marius cries out, “Wait! I know him!” She comes to him, and his first concern is if the letter was delivered. She then reveals that she is wounded, and is now too weak to stand. He catches her as she falls, gently lowering her to the ground, his arms around her as she lies on his lap in pain, and we find she has been shot in the back of the head. What will forever, at least in my mind, be called the most beautiful death scene ever to grace the stage ensues, in which they sing a duet. After her first line, Marius finally realizes that she always loved him, and he wraps around her protectively, tears pouring from his eyes. He at last returns her love, whispering, “But you would live ‘Ponine, dear God above! If I could heal your wounds with words of love…” To which she replies in gentle tones of love and pain, “Just hold me now, and let it be… Shelter me, comfort me!” They pull each other close, and for the last line sing together, in the most beautiful and heart-breaking duet you could ever hope to hear, until Eponine dies just before the last word, which Marius finishes. “And rain will make the flowers grow” is the agonizing whisper that hangs over Marius’ sobs.


Shortly after this Valjean appears. He is successful in saving Marius during the last battle, but not before his own magic moment at the barricade. His first fete is that of finding Javert as a prisoner there (captured while spying). Valjean pretends to shoot him, when in fact, out of grace, and to Javert’s shock and inability to understand, he let him go. To prove it was solely out of grace and not in trade, he even tells Javert where he lives.


Then came the moment that stole the show and left not a single dry eye in the house. On the night before the final attack, widely known as the night of anguish, while all but the watchmen are resting, Valjean sings a prayer over Marius, begging “If I die, let me die, let him be, let him live. Bring him home, bring him home… Bring him home.” Because the beauty of this song goes beyond words, I will post a link to J. Mark McVey singing it at the end of this article.

The next day, the National Guard wipes out the entire rebel band, and if Valjean had not thought to drag the wounded Marius into the sewer, not a soul would have survived. Every one of Marius’ friends is dead but Cossette, even his own brother.


Another touching song is that sung by him, as he limps along the street imagining his friends and wrestling with the fact that they died for nothing, and he abandoned them. This scene, as well, lacks the words for description.


The last great moment of the play is the battle raging inside Javert, who can’t understand or accept the grace Valjean showed him. He knows he can’t return it by giving Valjean his freedom, but can’t bring himself to arrest the man either. His inner turmoil drives him into a wild madness, unable to accept life, unable to take another’s, and at last he throws himself off of a bridge. This scene of his suicide, while having a weak musical accompaniment, has to be the most brilliant use of lighting and props I’ve ever seen. You can’t believe your eyes as he actually “vanishes” beneath non-existent water while hovering above the stage.


At the very end, Marius marries Cossette, the Thenardiers have made a living off the corpses in the street and are masquerading as royalty, and Jean Valjean dies of old age with his girl Cossette and son-in-law at his side.

 

And finally… My review: What I have described above (in excessive detail) is what would be a perfect performance of this play. In reality, while the play was breathtaking and absolutely worth waiting 8 years to see, no performance of these proportions can be carried out flawlessly. I found J. Mark McVey to be stunning, and my mother and I were in tears when he sang “Bring Him Home”. The acting for all parts was phenomenal, although the connection and chemistry between Max Quinlan (Marius) and Jenny Latimer (Cossette) left much to be desired. Betsy Morgan had nearly flawless vocals, and pulled her parts off brilliantly. The duet after Fantine’s death between McVey and Andrew Varela fell rather flat, as did Varela in the scene of Javert’s suicide, but I believe this to be a fault on the part of the sound techs rather than the actual vocals. Chasten Harmon was wonderful, and brought Eponine to life, but my heart ached for her when she fell just slightly short of a magic moment in “On My Own”. Harmon and Quinlan together, however, were breathtaking, and “A Little Fall of Rain” was the best I’ve ever heard. I doubt there were many dry eyes left after her death. Jenny Latimer did as well as anyone with Cossette’s role, but I have never found this role attractive. Shawna M. Hamic and Richard Vida, the Thenardiers, certainly stole the show with their hilariously brilliant voices, and were a perfect fit for their roles. The highest honor, though, must be reserved for McVey, who played a perfect Jean Valjean. Lastly, I must mention the children actors. Their wonderful acting, beautiful voices, and lovely innocence brought a whole knew level to the emotion in the play, and the audience couldn’t help but fall in love with them. Overall, I could not recommend this play more. If you ever get the chance to see it, do!

Now, at this point I will include the review that Ms. Palmer, the coolest American Literature teacher ever, sent my way. I was very grateful to her for taking the time to write this for me!

Here are her thoughts:


“I went into this experience with no prior knowledge of what the play's main plot was. All I knew was that there was a very moving relationship between a father and a daughter. With this said I was open to whatever I saw before me with wide eyes and opened ears. But I was disappointed with the sound of the production. I felt as if the actors and actress's voices were beautiful and on pitch perfect, however, I could not understand what they were saying. I believe the trios of actors and actresses that were singing did not have good sound tech quality.  I was able to follow the story line with great success though without the clarity in sound.  I enjoyed the boisterous scene that takes place in the saloon. I did not like the silly, yet weak techno scene of the police comarade jumping off the side of the bridge. It seemed to retro for the time period that was depicted within the play.  The children actors and actresses brought a joy of to this play. They brought innocence and sincerity to the main theme of the play. This theme being of love. Love between a mother and daughter, a father and daughter, a woman and a man, and the desperate woman and the man who only wants to be a friend. With this said the death of the main character's father was not surprising and didn't bring me to the tears that I believed it would when I first enter the play. I was somewhat disappointed with the scenes that didn't seem to have the gripping desperation and feeling that I knew should have been more present.  I walked out of the evening performance loving the costumes and set design, but, disappointed in the overall, lack of feeling found within the scenes.”

 

With that, I am (finally) done! For any of you that made it this far, here is a metaphorical sticker, an apology for wasting the previous few minutes of your life, and as your treat, here’s the video I promised of McVey!


J. Mark McVey "Bring Him Home"

Please, do not in any way let this long-winded “review” keep you from seeing this play… because after all, one could only write this much if it truly were fantastic, right?


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1 COMMENTS - add your comment below
11/28/2011 3:13:33 PM by Hannah "Rattler" Stewart    
And that is why, my dear Chirpies, Rattler does NOT do reviews ;)
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