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Schools' Edition


Director: Vicki Clarksont-lm
Musical Director: Simon Murray
Dance Director: Jane Wood.

Proscenium provided a very workable set with an impressive barricade. John Slevin’s lighting design was as dramatic as the action and Owen Lewis's sound design mix was faultless. The costumes and make-up gave the required look.

The director and MD have to work closely with each other so that the notation and the dramatic interpretation are equally applied across the piece. The much needed, well executed frippery of the choreography and movement gave the necessary colour to the dark story line.

This juggernaut of a musical ploughs its way through Victor Hugo’s novel taking no prisoners. In the title it may say “schools edition” but there isn’t anywhere to hide. All the cast are exposed and every character is an integral part of the story. This production was so well-served by its cast of “Lovely Ladies” and doomed students

From the first down beat of the prologue the adrenalin rush was visible. It didn’t take long for the cast to get into the driving seat and they then drove the drama throughout. Each supporting character delivered and prepared the way for the next scene.

A respite from the drama is needed, and the comedy of the Thénardiers supplied just that. Rory Gradon was master of the house but it was Eliza Beresford who wore the trousers. She gave a very competent and truthful performance. The Thénardiers' daughter, Eponine (the elder), played by Hannah Lawson, made the part her own. Lilly Hill, as Little Cosette their ward, found all the sentiment in “Castle on a Cloud”.

The story takes a different direction with the plight of Fantine and her daughter. Grace Stubbs held the audience with her characterisation and rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream”. An audience learns so much about Fantine from that one number.

The unrequited love of Eponine and Marius (Sam Jones) was well played out and the romance between Marius and Cosette (Eleanor Fielding) supplied the softer side of the story.

The two heavy weights, Valjean and Javert, sparred together and won their respective rounds. Sam Gilliatt showed such understanding of the role of Javert, as his obsession leads to his downfall. This was so evident in his delivery of “Stars” and Javert’s suicide. Prisoner 24601is Jean Valjean. and from first seeing him in the chain gang. to his death. the character has to be portrayed by an actor / singer of notable experience. Ben Jones is such a performer; he has previously played the role which stood him in good stead. It is such an intense part, an emotional roller coaster and a vocal marathon. Ben captured the essence of the character. in fact he breathed the character.

This production contained much to take pleasure in and the audience revelled in the performances.