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Les Miserables Review

Les Misérables (School Edition) : Giggleswick School

Richard Whiteley Theatre: 30/11/16

This is a production which simply keeps on giving.

Like any first night there were a few technical issues: radio mikes on the blink, an over-enthusiastic smoke machine, slightly too much volume in some soprano numbers etc but unlike most first nights there was also an entirely deserved spontaneous standing ovation.

There is so much to praise in this show that it is very difficult to know where to begin, however the real credit must surely go to the school itself in ensuring that its students are exposed to such a wide range of theatrical and musical experiences that they are not only inspired by them, but become sufficiently astute  to be able to analyse them to such a degree that they can then use that knowledge to inform their own work. It is very much to the students’ credit that they then are able to aspire to not only performing at such a high level but to be sufficiently confident to know that it is possible to exceed the performances they observe.

The whole team involved in this show are very clearly enthusiastic and motivated by a desire to produce an entertainment which is polished to a professional standard. On every level they succeed in this ambition.

This is such a stunning production that not only does it reinvigorate what is by now an extremely well-known show it also makes you fall in love with it once more. That it is an amateur production is something which you completely forget: that it is an amateur production by school pupils is something which never even registers while watching it. It is only in hindsight that you begin to reflect on what this says about the standard of the show. There are really not enough superlatives in a dictionary – and believe me, I have some very hefty dictionaries – to give adequate praise to the main leads.

The casting in the key roles of Valjean and Javert, Marius and Cosette, Eponine and Fantine and the Thénardiers is a real joy and school is extremely fortunate to have so many accomplished singers and actors who not only perform these roles with relish but  totally inhabit the roles and bring them to sparkling life on stage.

The confrontations between Valjean (Joshua Warburton) and Valjean (Max Reiter) crackle with the intensity of the emotion; Marius (Wil Richmond) is well-rounded and convincing in both his sudden love for Cosette, a dazzling performance by Faye Milbourn, and his anguish at the loss of his friends; in her surprisingly feisty performance of “I Dreamed a Dream,” Emma Sharp creates a striking Fantine while India Birley brings a genuine sense of pathos to the doomed Eponine. As the wily Thénardiers, Rebecca Ramalingam and Archie Hancock, make a magnificent duo – by turns comic and menacing.  They are strongly supported by excellent cameos in the shape of the minor characters such as Gavroche (Toby Lloyd) and Enjolras (Nick Simper) and clever touches throughout develop the individual characteristics of the groups of students, workers and townspeople.

The standard of playing by the orchestra is also very apparent with faultless solos to underscore more poignant moments in the action.

The set is a fantastic creation with every inch of the acting space utilised perfectly and tremendous thought being given to the overall shape of the show, the simplicity of “Children of the Barricades” following the horrific battle sequence being a case in point.

This was on every level a powerful and outstanding show with great pace, thought and an amazing level of teamwork.

Congratulations doesn’t begin to express the joy it brought to the audience.


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