Bel Air Drama Company’s Les Misérables Review

Jack Brink

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The Bel Air Drama Company held their production of Les Misérables, having four showings over three nights on April 6 through April 8, 2017. It was a stunning, gripping production, well living up to the expectations set by the great interpretation of the musical that came before.

Les Misérables, based on the novel by Victor Hugo, and the musical by Alain Boubil and Claude-Michael Schonberg, tells the story of Jean Valjean (Christian D’Achille), a bread thief who spends 19 years in prison for his “crimes”, and after breaking parole, constantly puts himself in danger of recapture by police inspector Javert (Eli Courtney). He does this by always doing the right thing whenever he can, such as taking in Cosette (Grace Schwartz as young, Kiley Ernest as older), the daughter of the dying Fantine (Hannah Barsam) from the corrupt Thenardier (Kaidan Hetzer) and his wife Madame Thenardier (Veronica Burbelo). Years later, Cosette along with Thenardier’s daughter Eponine (Michaela Berres as young, Olivia Bowley as older) are grown up and both fall in love with Marius (Drake Lupus), who struggles as to whether to pursue his love in Cosette or join his fellow students and their leader Enjolras (Eric Bray) in the revolution against the government. Everything comes to a head at the battle, where each character’s life is shaped forever there.

The entire dialogue of Les Mis is almost exclusively sung, with there being only a select few spoken lines. This means that the musical performances would absolutely have to be strong for this play to succeed, and unsurprisingly, everybody involved crushed their performances, delivering big time emotion and passion in each and every one of their songs. Everybody delivered on stage during the production, with there not being one weak voice on stage to drag down the rest.

Each actor brings huge emotion to their roles, and conjure up so many feelings within us. Thenardier’s “Master of the House” is a fun romp that gives us some much-needed joy in between the harrowing sadness we feel during the darker, but equally great, songs such Eponine’s “Own My Own” or Marius’ “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”. “Red and Black” as well as the undisputed highlight of the musical, “One Day More” both conjure up extreme feelings of pride and a motivation to stick up for what you believe. Each song is perfectly written and performed, conveying the mood of the play and the emotion of the characters during each scene far better than any spoken lines of dialogue could.

Other elements that must be praised are the production and costume design. The background and scenery is striking, and one of the most powerful scenes of the musical is the aftermath of the battle, which uses the rotating display to beautifully show the price of war. The costumes are marvelous, and really make you feel as though you’ve been taken back to 1800’s France.

The only knock that I could really take against this wonderful show was that there a few microphone problems during the course of the show. At the showing I went to (Thursday night), the mic for Thenardier was cut off for his song “Master of the House”, which sadly meant his voice was completely drowned out and he was inaudible the entire song. I have to give huge props to him for never missing a beat even with the technical issue and continuing on his as loudly as he possibly could. This was a minor issue for the show, and does nothing to take away from the excellence of what this show was.

With its great cast all delivering stellar performances, especially that of leads D’Achille, who does a magnificent job of portraying the desperation and inner conflict Valjean feels every time he takes his next action from the law, and Courtney, who does a wonderful job of showing the hatred Javert has for Valjean and the unrelenting conviction he has in the law, Les Mis will easily rank as one of the best productions in BADC’s long and illustrious history.

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