‘Les Miserables’ was well-supported.
Kick-starting the 2019 community theatre season, Brisbane Musical Theatre have ambitiously conquered ‘Les Miserables’.
A show that notoriously requires a mass ensemble and a powerhouse team of lead vocals, the aptly nicknamed “Les Mis” is a feat for any production company.
Centring around the story of the prisoner, Jean Valjean, ‘Les Miserables’ follows his journey as he breaks parole and is hunted by a police inspector, Javert. The musical dances through years of life, embracing themes of love, family, war, virtue and most importantly, legacy.
A favourite for many theatre lovers, ‘Les Miserables’ is filled with an insanely exciting score. Even staging a French rebellion can be challenging, especially when a cast must represent hundreds. Luckily for Brisbane Musical Theatre, their supporting team of actors and musicians ensured the battle was won, as they provided a compelling backing to a heart-wrenching tale.
Led by Musical Director, Jacqui Atherton, the powerful and talented orchestra filled the Emerge Church with mesmorising melodies. The rhythms and beats were skilfully navigated, allowing the cast to deliver justice to the recognisable music of ‘Les Miserables’.
Although quite literal, the set design transported audiences to the 19th century France, with pieces being functional for performers. Simple facades, walls and props were used to symbolise the different scenes within the story. The lighting design played a large part in heightening moods and building tension. It was quite vexing and allowed somewhat dull scenes to become more enthralling.
At times, the show lagged in pace and some blocking was unnecessarily made. The fluidity of the production could have been tightened, and an assistant may have helped with the combined undertaking of the roles of Val Jean and Director. Despite this, the actors had believable chemistry, which sold performances. These connections created real relationships on stage and superseded the momentary constraints of free movement.
Standout performances came from Lionel Theunissen as Javert, Sophie Price as Eponine, Belinda Burton as Cosette, and Tyler Mackay as Gavroche. There’s a significant difference between acting and feeling, and these artists consumed their roles right to their core. Their experience was evident in their captivating portrayals.
In terms of magic music moment, Sophie Price delivered an emotional rendition of ‘On My Own’ that left the audience feeling her heartbreak regarding unrequited love. Lionel Theunissen’s take on the ballad ‘Stars’ was also another pinnacle point in the production where meaning hit home. And finally, ‘One Day More’ flagged the iconic nature of ‘Les Miserables’, delighting fans who had travelled near and far to see this performance.
It’s obvious Brisbane Musical Theatre is heavily assisted by a large following and adoring community. ‘Les Miserables’ was supported by a talented cast, incredible musical direction and an encouraging audience. Nestled away in the northern suburbs of Brisbane, it’s worth watching what this inspiring company plans next.
For more information about Brisbane Musical Theatre, visit www.brisbanemusicaltheatre.com.au