Les Misérables

09 Mar

les miserablesJust quietly, I think Canberra Philharmonic have outdone themselves with their latest rendering of a classic musical. I mean, it’s nothing terribly innovative, the staging is much what you’d expect for any other rendition of Les Misérables, and the set, while pleasant, goes through a few clunky moments. But the performances drawn out of these ‘amateur’ performers is nothing short of spectacular.

Dave Smith’s Valjean is a perfect match for Adrian Flor’s Javert, and the two milk Schönberg and Boulbil’s book for every hyper-sentimental note it’s worth. Their energy and focus, while admirable, is upstaged by other principals, particularly Kelly Roberts’ Fantine, Mat Chardon O’Dea’s Marius, Laura Dawson’s Cosette and Vanessa de Jager’s Eponine. Their energy filled Erindale’s cavernous auditorium, and they must be finding the run absolutely gruelling. The rest of the cast are pretty impressive too, on the whole.

I found the performance on the whole moving, and the staging, while predicable, was solid. The orchestra, though it needed to be hidden under a fully extended stage, was in fine form.

The whole evening hangs together beautifully, as evidenced by the full standing ovation with which this late-run audience honoured the splendid cast and crew. This is a great night out, and you’ve got one more week in which to get along and see it.


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One response to “Les Misérables

  1. John

    Sunday, 10 March 2013 at 4:27 pm

    I also really liked it. As for the clunky moments, I think that’s a consequence of adapting the musical to a venue that doesn’t have a revolving stage. Some of the solutions, like the use of candles to link “did you see them going out to fight” with “empty chairs and empty tables” or the staging of Javert’s suicide were really clever (experience from previous amateur productions?). Other choices were less successful: the ABC cafe was diminished by being tucked away in a corner of the stage and Lovely Ladies felt a little static (unavoidable, you need space for the cart). I also noticed a huge amount of noise backstage from the setup for Master of the House during Fantine’s deathbed song.

    Beyond the principals, I noticed a lot of spectacular acting going on in the ensemble. There were a lot of amazing background moments and I did wonder how many people would actually notice them, it was hard to “take everything in”.

    One of my favorite moments was during “look down” where the five students stand on top of the arch and all look visually different: the different colours and detail made each of the main students distinctive, it was a shame that they all took their coats off so soon. I also loved the way “little people” was adapted to take into account that one of the students was played by an unusually short actor, but that smart awareness and “in the moment” quality ran all through the show. Another small detail I liked was how after Gavroche bursts in to announce “Lamarque is dead” one of the students strips his cap off and holds it to his chest to show the urchin that a great man has died and he should show respect.

    – John Lombard


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