Sunday, July 27, 2014

Les Miserables in Hollister

Whew, where do I start? [At the beginning, Monica, we've discussed this!]
Well, the production we went to was one of those community deals, so we didn't quite know what we were going to get, in terms of staging and music. But it was actually quite good, they had their own tiny little orchestra, a very versatile stage layout, and some neat lighting! And extremely loud gunshot/cannon noises... extremely loud.
The beginning sounded real neat, and they made the overture sound so big despite the small orchestra. And yeah, it was very exiting when they started! I thought the rhythmic hammer-thumping in the Prologue was cool.

Jean Valjean was a good actor and singer, he compensated for the notes he couldn't reach quite well, and his performance was very enjoyable. Javert was good too, his voice was quieter, but when he hit high notes in Stars and Javert's Suicide it sounded awesome. And the Bishop. Well, the Bishop is always awesome (running out of adjectives :P), and on the programme it said that he was played by an actual Friar!

At The End of The Day was my favorite part. The way they did it was that during Valjean's Soliloquy the curtain was closed (he was singing in front of it) so that they could change the set, and when the curtain opened, the chorus just kind of ran at the audience, and they had cast members going through the aisle to get to the stage, and it was very cool.
Fantine was good, no complaints here, though sitting through Lovely Ladies was pretty uncomfortable. I liked The Confrontation, despite the awkward pause at the end when Valjean brandished a candle at Javert. XD

Little Cosette was so pitiful, poor thing. I almost felt bad for laughing so hard during Master of the House. I mean, the Thenardiers are a nasty pair of people, but I couldn't help it. Monsieur Thenardier's actor was hilarious and their rendition of Master of the House was great!
Valjean was very sweet with Little Cosette, and he pulled a rag doll out of his hat to give to her, that was cute and funny at the same time. He's a magician!

Anyway, then there's Look Down, which is always cool. Probably because it introduces so many new characters. Gavroche, who totally owns the town, Marius, who is adorkable, Enjolras, who you can't decide whether or not you like, Eponine who knows her way around... It's terrific, I tell ya.
Oh, and the thing that stood out to me during The Robbery was that after Marius knocks Cosette's basket off her arm, and they put the flowers back in, this production had her gesture at the book he was carrying around and they both start to read it together! It was very nice, and my sister was having a fangirly squee attack next to me.

And Stars... [dreamy sigh] it was wonderful.
I was pretty happy that they kept in Eponine's Errand (They actually didn't cut all that much), though I had to laugh whenever anyone said 'Ponine. Because for whatever reason they all pronounced it like 'Panine, and it made me think of those toasted sandwiches, Paninis. Ahem, moving on!
Oh, The ABC café. Marius was great here (always looking so hurt whenever Enjolras snapped at him), and they added a few really awesome harmonies that I'd never heard before in the big Red & Black sections. The only part I thought was weird was when Enjolras started to draw his gun at the others when they were being obnoxious. Whoa! O.o

Do You Hear The People Sing was excellent, they did the cast-members-in-the-aisle thing again. And then there was In My Life. The lady who played Cosette had a nice, non-Snow White-ish voice, and her interactions with Jean Valjean were nice. My sister once again had fangirly squee attacks at A Heart Full of Love. ...and so did I. Marius was just so sweet in this production! In the intro of the song, he almost ran away because he was so nervous about talking to a lady. :D

One Day More was brilliant. I always get chills when the orchestra drops out and there's a moment of silence between each word at the end. ONE... DAY... MOOOOOOORRRREEEE!!!
After the intermission things got back into swing nicely with the students getting ready to build the barricade. But more importantly, On My Own! (Sorry, Friends of the ABC.) The actress did a very good job with it, and I loved her acting. Then after that come the revolutionary funtimes, I lose track of the songs that happen around here. But somewhere in there the army captain told them that they had no friends, Gavroche sold out Javert, and Eponine got shot and died. That scene was pretty dang sad, I'm tellin' ya.

After A Little Fall of Rain, Jean Valjean arrives, and after he apparently saves some guy from a sniper, Enjolras gives him the uber-privilege of getting to kill Javert. Then comes Drink With Me, which is probably the second most depressing song ever. I mean, wow. Way to kill the mood, guy who I think is supposed to be Grantaire. But I like it, it's got a lovely, wistful tune, and it sounds great in Japanese. Bring Him Home, well, I have beef with that song. It's beautiful, it's moving, but I have book-purist issues with it. Valjean's actor did a pretty nice job with this song, though. So I didn't even mind that it was totally book inaccurate. I'll um, stop with the book-purist ranting because it's probably very annoying. ;D

So then Gavroche gives Enjolras a letter that apparently says that they're all doomed, because next comes Dawn of Anguish. And Gavroche's death. Oh man, I can't even, that scene is so completely traumatizing.

I almost hate to say it, but I really like The Final Battle, as a song. And this version was amazing! So Enjolras says his line, and then on the last bit, "Let others rise to take our place, until the earth is free!" EVERYONE joined in and they did another awesome harmony. It was so cool, I loved what they did with that part. Though again, I almost hate to say it, but the trauma of watching a bunch of people getting shot to death was kind of undermined by this one guy who totally hammed his death in a slightly comedic way. I um... laughed. And then felt bad about it afterward. But not too bad. ;)

So! I was quite impressed with Jean Valjean's actor during the sewers segment. He lugged Marius across the stage several times, and didn't even waver. But then came... Javert's Suicide. Once more, I shall admit something that I hate to say out loud, and say that Javert's Suicide just might be my favorite song in the whole dang musical. It's a striking parallel to what happened to Valjean at the beginning of the story, and the instruments are so dramatic (that's the time for the orchestra to really jam!), and the actor for Javert certainly lived up to my expectations. Not like I walked into the theater with expectations, but you know what I mean. Now, the way that they executed the actual suicide was interesting. In the last verse, we noticed these guys in convict outfits standing on the edges of the stage. Then, right before the big last line, they lined up behind Javert (who was standing on this box thing) and at the line "There is no way to go OOOOONNNN!!", Javert tipped backwards and the convicts caught him and carried him off the stage. Sure, it looked like Javert was crowd surfing, but it was a creative way to do it, and man! Javert's actor was so brave to fall backwards and trust those guys to catch him!

Whew, almost done. Almost done. Turning was depressing, as usual. Not much to say there. Empty Chairs at Empty Tables was pretty good, I really liked the actor who played Marius. Then there was Every Day, where Cosette does her best to cheer Marius up, and Jean Valjean get steeped into the depths of despair. Poor man. Of course, there's a few songs in between there and the Epilogue, but this post is long enough, and I don't have anything in particular to say about them.

So! The Epilogue, how many layers of awesome is that? Everyone did a good job with it, and the reprise of Do You Hear the People Sing sent shivers down my spine! Of couse, we spent I don't know how many minutes clapping, and then it was over. And boy, was it awesome!
Something cool about attending a production put on by a smallish town is that you get to meet some of the actors outside. We got to have our pictures with Matt Thorpe, who played Jean Valjean and Corbyjane Troya who played Cosette. We also met Jorge Torrez (Marius) and Josh Oelrich (Javert). They were very nice, and it was a fun way to wrap up the evening!


  1. Wow! It sounds really great, especially for local theater. I got chills just reading your review!


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