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Review: Les Misérables at The Sutherland Shire Entertainment Centre

By Charlotte Robertson

Miranda Musical Society knows their audience and what they like with Les Misérables being a long time favourite of performers and patrons. They should be commended on delivering an enjoyable and entertaining production brimming with talent which successfully gives the people what they want. However, I believe that they played it safe in some aspects of the production. I wanted them to grapple with the dark and tragically sombre political and social turmoil of early 19th century Paris with more daring gravitas. This would have allowed us to have more empathy for the main characters’ plight.

Jennifer Parbery was deeply emotive and captivating in her role of Fantine. I Dreamed a Dream was very powerful. However, Lovely Ladies and Fantine’s Arrest lacked the adventurous courage required to effectively depict the harsh tragedy of a woman forced into such depravity. I would have liked to have seen more of the sinister seediness of 19th century Parisian streets in the ensemble’s performances and their costuming. Unfortunately, the wigs were rather distracting and often looked ridiculous, with the female leads resembling Mary Pickford publicity shots.

Andrew Symes was a crowd pleaser as Jean Vajean, his strongest song being Bring Him Home which was heart-rending. James Gander gave a brooding performance as Inspector Javert and his vocals were exceptional. Laura Garrick impressed as Eponine with her compelling stage presence and strong voice. Rebecca Carter stunned in the role of Cosette with her beautiful vocals. Ben Jancetic was wonderfully charismatic in his role of Gavroche and his rendition of Little People was delightful. Kyle Nozza was superbly nuanced as Marius Pontmercy and Empty Chairs at Empty Tables was immensely affecting as it was aided by the male ensemble portraying the ghosts of his deceased friends in slow motion as he sat and reminisced. Anthony Mason was equally commendable as Enjolras and commanded the stage with exuberance. Gavin Leahy was hilarious as Monsieur Thénardier and his rendition of Master of the House alongside Cheryl O’Brien as Madame Thénardier was an absolute hoot! Ethan Fuller was a standout in the ensemble and performed a lovely opening solo in Drink With Me. The acting overall did however feel wooden at times and more gusto was required from the main cast.   

The lighting was evocative and atmospheric throughout, often intensifying the mood in various scenes. The set design was impressive in evoking street scenes and the barricade was especially clever in providing an elevated space which enhanced the dramatic imagery.

Despite some flat notes at the beginning and obvious nerves, the singing for the most part was praiseworthy. One Day More was poignant and rousing, closing the first act with tenacity. Other group numbers Do You Hear the People Sing and At the End of the Day were undoubtedly stirring.

All in all, directing such a large cast is an arduous endeavour and Geraldine Turner has done well in bringing Victor Hugo’s work to life with flair and Mark Cranston Reid’s music direction was energetic and proficient. Well done to Miranda Musical Society for producing such a warm and sentimental production which supplied many magical moments.

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All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.


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