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Les Miserables – Vancouver

Posted on July 10, 2015 at 9:06 pm by David Jones — 2 Comments

les_miserables

 

Go hear these people sing! It’s a rousing and stirring production.

FREE THEATRE TICKET CONTEST
Ensemble Theatre has spent the last several summers producing intelligent and thought provoking plays in repertory. One of them is the riveting drama Frost / Nixon by Peter Morgan.

A fascinating piece of modern history unfold in this political drama as the beleaguered President Nikon goes toe to toe with a journalist determined to get to the truth and makes his mark.

If you live in Vancouver, I want you to win two free tickets to this show – learn how at the end of this review for Les Miserables.

(Note: Art is subjective. One-person’s sublime evening out is another person’s torture. I want to celebrate what went into creating the show and how I felt the audience reacted. Then I will allow my cynical Uncle Max to have a short retort. I will also post the cost of tickets.

The thought is you can then decide is the show is to your taste and worth the money they are asking. Does Uncle Max talk you out of it? Or did the rest of the review convince you to go? Let me know.)

Les Miserables by the Arts Club Theatre
Until August 16th

Thank goodness for this cast! Layered, grounded acting and stunning singing voices are such a welcome relief after that overwrought movie version.

I must admit I was not looking forward to seeing yet another version of this musical ‘phenomenon’ but the cast director Bill Millerd assembled was electric and pulled me in and genuinely moved me and for the most part made the 3 hour running time fly by.

The story is epic and sprawling, as it was adapted from one of the longest novels in history; 1900 pages in the original French. I assume everyone has some passing knowledge of the key plot points due to cultural osmosis. If not Google it, I want to focus on telling you to see it for the cast anyway.

Warren Kimmel is simply one of the most commanding male musical theatre performers in Vancouver. His Javert is deeply resolute with the courage of his convictions and when he is let down by them you feel it tearing him apart from the inside.

Jeannie Neuman thankfully plays the hope and simply lets the drama come from the words in the song and her rendition of Eponines A Little Fall of Rain is so involving that you don’t have time to notice it is not raining. She is riveting.

Strikingly handsome and powerful in his stillness, Kieran Martin Murphy is warm and strong as a Jean Valjean. The character is written overly saintly and a tragic victim but the simplicity Mr. Murphy brings to the role makes him compelling and deep.

Nicola Lipman and Andrew Wheeler bring welcome playfulness to the evil Thenardiers. They are both so clever and bring new things I have not seen before like Monsieur Thenardiers forgetting how to genuflect, delightful. Mr. Wheeler also brings a level of sadness to the generally evil Dog East Dog song that made it fresh and fascinating.

As the young lovers, Kaylee Harwood as Cossette is light and innocent without being cloying and Sayer Roberts is passionately caring without being corny or too noble. You care about these kids even if their love affair is under written and quick. They make it work beautifully and when they sing, it is absolutely soaring.

The kids are so clear of voice and such delightful actors. Jaime Olivia Maclean is Young Cossette, Elosie White as Young Eponine and Cameron Andres as Gavroche are perfectly cast and radiant young actors.

Rebecca Talbot makes a welcome return to the stage as the tragic Fantine and Stuart Barkley is youthful and resolute as Enjolras, so hopeful and determined that the student rebellion will work you hope they re-wrote the revolution scene for his sake.

The ensemble needs to be applauded greatly for their dexterous and talented work. The backstage must be choreographed madness as they are constantly changing costumes and wigs. Their collective skills as actors capture and their fantastic voices fill every corner of the Stanley Theatre. Bravo Sarah Carle, Oliver Castillo, Caitlin Clugston, Eric Craig, Kevin Michael Cripps, Jocelyn Gauthier, Erik Gowm Jesse Martyn, Alexander Nicoll, Cathy Wilmot, Jocob Woike and Sylvia Zaradic.

The set by Ted Roberts is suitably dark, ominous and uncluttered and Marsha Sibthorpe’s lighting is so powerful that during A Heart Full of Love I wrote down on my pad “lighting! Wow!”. Alison Green millions of costumes are fanciful and evocative.

The co-musical directors Bruce Kellett and Ken Cormier get such a rich sound out of the band that it is surprising to count during the curtain that there are only 6 of them.”

I attended opening night and the sold out show leapt to their feet with a standing ovation and individually cast members got hoots and woots as they took their curtain call.

UNCLE MAX RETORTS
I have a bone to pick with this melodramatic musical!
The last half hour has all these dramatic moments that make no sense. One – Jean Valjean doesn’t go to his adopted daughter’s wedding for no good reason. Javert is dead and no one is looking for him. Two – Marius collapsed at the barricades after having seen Jean Valjean. He wakes up in a hospital and Jean Valjean is there, and he can’t figure out how he got there and Jean Valjean won’t tell him that he brought him there. Why not? Three – At the wedding Marius sees Thenardier is wearing his ring, he figures it out and proclaim sings to Cosette “Your father is a saint” as if she had any doubts or cause for concern and Four – then they both leave the wedding and instantly find him, he is clearly not good at hiding.
This is drama for the sake of drama. It makes no sense. Do you have to read the book to justify any of this? Bah!
Oh and sorry for not saying “Spoilers Ahead”, if you don’t know this story by now I can’t help you.

WHO IS THIS SHOW FOR?
If you want to lifted and carried away by a powerful and epic musical by a stunningly talented cast AND you want to cry and leave a theatre humming through those tears, then this is the show for you!

HOW MUCH ARE TICKETS.
During the week the tickets are $69 and $89 and on the weekend they jump up to $99.
The limited number of cheap seats are now ten dollars more at $39.
Also as always the Arts Club uses progressive ticket prices so the more the tickets sell the higher the price goes. So buy early to get the best price.

 

WIN FREE THEATRE TICKETS BY CROSS POLLINATING THEATRE

FrostNixon Web
Ensemble Theatre has spent the last several summers producing intelligent and thought provoking plays in repertory. One of them is the riveting drama Frost / Nixon by Peter Morgan.

A fascinating piece of modern history unfold in this political drama as the beleaguered President Nikon goes toe to toe with a journalist determined to get to the truth and makes his mark.

I want to give you two tickets to see it for free! If you live in the Greater Vancouver area and want to win, it’s easy:

1) Share this review on Twitter – but –

2) Include the sentence below (copy and paste it)

WIN FREE TIX to Frost/Nixon @WeAreETC #etc2015 read about Les Miserables @artsclub

 

Note: You might have to delete “Title” it adds and the “via @Share This” tag that gets added when using twitter.

Someone from Esemble Theatre will choose the winner on July 26th . Winner will be contacted directly by them.

David C. Jones