Lichfield Musical Youth Theatre
An electrifying standing ovation says it all.
Lichfield Cathedral plays host to Lichfield Musical Youth Theatre’s magnificent performance of Les Miserables this week, the Gothic-styled cathedral being a most incredible background for this iconic musical.
First published in 1862, Victor Hugo’s historical novel is still considered one of the greatest of the 19th century. The story follows the lives and interactions of many characters but focuses on the life of ex-convict Jean Valjean as he is transformed from a criminal into a paragon of virtue. The novel itself is indeed an epic, divided into five volumes, and elaborates upon the history of France, moral philosophy, religion, justice, injustice and, of course, love. The story has since been adapted for stage, television and big screen, and the songs and music in this musical adaptation, composed by Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil and Herbert Kretzmer, are now just as famous as Hugo's story. LMYT deliver this musical to the stage powerfully and with total conviction.
Established in 1985, LMYT has a reputation for excellence, having won awards and gained critical acclaim, and this performance of Les Miserables should surely win them another. With first class performances by the principal cast, and superb supporting ensemble, the production flows beautifully with full attention to detail at every step. I was delighted to witness a sterling portrayal of Jean Valjean by Adam Pritchard. Adam's stage ownership and confidence was apparent and his singing voice and vocal range absolutely thrilling with a particular highlight being Bring Him Home which was delivered to the audience flawlessly. Nathan De Giorgi plays the primary antagonist Inspector Javert with assurance, again treating us to outstanding vocal performances including his very powerful delivery of Soliloquy. Hattie Rumsey plays the young, orphaned, working-class Fantine in a manner that could not better, with just the right amount of grace and humility, and her rendition of I Dreamed A Dream was enchanting, sending ripples of emotion throughout the cathedral. Lovely to see Ethan Bowley performing in this show. This young man goes from strength to strength, having watched him perform more recently in The Full Monty. His portrayal of street-boy, Gavroche, isn't far from the portrayal by Daniel Huttlestone and Ethan captures the personality, optimism and energy of the character.
Cosette, as the grown-up daughter of Fantine, is played by experienced soprano Ella Fellows-Moore and what an absolute delight she is to witness - graceful, gentle and powerful, a perfect casting to play opposite Dominic Sterland as Marius, the suitor of Cosette who, believing Cosette is lost to him, joins the rebellion. Dominic, again, demonstrates a powerful and perfect vocal, a particular highlight in the show being the duet A Heart Full Of Love. Eponine, a once spoiled and pampered child who later appears as a unkempt and impoverished teen, is played by Sophie-Rose Dickinson who delivered her beautiful and expressive vocal, giving the audience an emotional run for their money with her rendition of A Little Fall Of Rain. Jonah Sercombe plays Enjolras - the charismatic leader of the rebellion. A strong, powerful figure, with a deep and authoritative voice, Jonah is convincing as he devotes himself to the revolution and his republican ideals.
The secondary antagonists, the Thenardiers, are played humorously by Grace Willis and Ollie Willett in similar style to Baron Cohen and Bonham Carter but with their own wickedly delicious stance. With a highly entertaining performance of Master In The House they play the comedy characters brilliantly, providing some comic relief from the generally more serious tone of the story. Younger principals Polly Tyndall (Little Eponine) and Maisie Chatfield (Little Cosette) both gave wonderful, confident performances and Maisie's rendition of Castle On A Cloud was truly captivating as the audience held onto every word.
Excellent performances from the ensemble who portrayed a colourful picture of pimps, sailors, robbers, ladies of the night and other dubious characters, as they assisted with the well choreographed, transitional scene changes, adding to the volume and harmony of song and creating the all important crowds of workers, revolutionists, and bar drinkers. With a dramatic and spirited lighting design, excellent seventeen piece orchestra and big budget costume set this show was superbly directed by Julie Mallaband, conducted by Oliver Rowe and passionately choreographed by Jemma Tiso.
You'll be very lucky to get a ticket!
Runs to 28th April
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