Les Miserables (School Edition)

Sat 4th – Sun 12th August 2012


Yara Rodrigues Fowler

at 05:08 on 6th Aug 2012



I walked into ‘Les Miserables’ as a hater of musicals. But much to my surprise I emerged - not as a fan, as such - but having thoroughly enjoyed the last two and a half hours. This feeling was shared, if not exceeded, by most of my fellow audience members. The show closed to a keen and instant standing ovation and to more than one pair of mascara-stained cheeks. For those unfamiliar with the show, it follows the fortunes of a penniless factory worker, her daughter, and an ex-con (he only stole a loaf of bread!) in revolutionary France and is entirely sung; needless to say, it is a performance for fans of musicals, however it is neither needlessly cheery nor unnatural. To be more specific, ‘Les Mis’ is a musical for the music-loving, rather than for the musical-loving exclusively.

Unfamiliar with the show as I was, I recognised several of its main numbers and was able to enjoy the others due to the high calibre of their execution. Of particular note were the performances by the female members of the cast: Emily Copas as Fantine sung a fantastic ‘I Dreamed a Dream’, with range, control and evocative expression; Imogen Stirling delivered a tragic and strong Eponine, particularly in her rendition of ‘I Love Him’; and Rachel Coll was a sweet and melodic Cosette. The orchestra was placed unusually at the back of the centre-stage - a very successful location. Placing them under the balcony and therefore both obscured yet acoustically resonant, provided competent support for the cast. Considering how music-heavy ‘Les Mis’ is they did a remarkably consistent and well-rehearsed job, although there remain some moments of screechy violins and imperfectly tuned solos.

The costume and set were vivid and well-sourced, rendering the brothel and battle scenes easy to imagine - both involved bright colours, make up and period dressing - corsets and swords respectively. The barricades used in the battle scenes, the only elaborate piece of set, were well-made and well-used; Captivate Drama, the company behind this production, succeeded especially in these areas, using sound additionally to demonstrate gunshots and the noise of war, using spotlights to indicate the passage of time.

It is worth bearing in mind the age of the performers - the cast ranged from 10 years old to late teens - and noting that, although the age of the performers varied, their standard does not. ‘Gavroche’ by Alexander Gavin (in the show I watched but played by Aidan Cross in others) deserves special mention. Managing an off-stage death-scene at only ten years of age, conveyed only by voice, singing and a gunshot, as well as performing several solo songs, and giving a memorable finger to an older character proved his mettle as a fine young actor.

The Bishop (Kieran Skelton), amongst other characters including Jean Valjean (Ryan Wells) and Javert, (Mark Wilson), were well-acted and pleasantly sung, each reaching moments of sadness and provocative sympathy. The ensemble were likewise impressive, delivering well-pronounced, powerful and well-honed performances throughout

This play is well-sung, well-acted and its music is generally well-played. If you’re a fan of musicals then ‘Les Mis’ will be a treat.


Laura Peatman

at 18:39 on 6th Aug 2012



I know it’s best not to turn up to a show you are reviewing with too many expectations and preconceptions, but when the show in question is Les Misérables, that’s pretty hard. Luckily the young cast of Captivate Theatre’s production did not disappoint, presenting a wonderful and impressively professional performance of the classic musical.

From the opening lyrics of ‘Look Down’, the audience could tell this was no amateurish effort. Each of the vocal performances, from the lead soloists to more minor chorus members, were clear and almost unfaltering (with just the tiniest lyrical slips that only a Les Mis super-fan such as myself would notice) and the ensemble performances showed real energy and enjoyment. There are some big, challenging songs in this show, but the stand-out numbers of ‘I Dreamed A Dream’, ‘On My Own’, ‘Stars’ and ‘Bring Him Home’ were performed with power and maturity.

Ryan Wells pulled off the lead role of Jean Valjean with both confidence and sensitivity and held the stage impressively. Yet the supporting cast did not let him steal the show, from the subtle poignancy of Fantine (Emily Copas) to the endearing pluckiness of Eponine (Imogen Stirling) and the bawdy and scene-stealing comedy of the Thénardiers (Claire Greave and Sandy Bain). Special mention must also go to Alexander Gavin for melting our hearts in an adorably confident performance as the urchin Gavroche.

The staging, lighting and costumes were all spectacular considering the school-based venue, in particular the balcony which rose above the orchestra and the use of red and white lighting shining through a veil of dry ice. My only issue with the production as a whole was the orchestra: tackling some difficult melodies, they were proficient but let down by some dodgy tuning amongst the strings and oboe sections particular. However, this is something that could be worked on and improved in future performances.

This was a thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable night’s theatre showcasing some highly impressive young talent in all areas. For musical buffs, a show not to miss – and for those who usually avoid them, a chance for conversion.



Kelly Travers; 11th Aug 2012; 00:42:39

There are no words! For such a young cast to pull off a musical of this calibre the way they did is immense. They managed to bring the audience to tears and to their feet for a well deserved standing ovation. Special mentions to the Barricade Boys and Mark Wilson as Javert. A character I personally never take interest in but loved his performance. Beautifully sung by all throughout. Can't wait to see again on closing night!

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