Les Miserables

Directed by Lisa-Jane Easter

Napier Municipal Theatre

May 16 to June 1, 7.30pm start

Tickets through Ticketek

REVIEW: This is a Big Show. Big on energy and height and storytelling. Big on visual displays, big chorus numbers and big sound.

Memorably, the ensemble scenes are interesting and active and beautifully set. The lighting and costumes reflect the narrative of suffering, bawdiness, fear and patriotism, and splashes of red sweep the stage with the passion of uprising and rebellion. Opposing darkness, shadows, a stage washed of colour, resemble the different layers of misery and deprivation.

The set of Les Miserables brought a dynamic spectacle making you feel like you were in early 19th century France. Photo / Paul Taylor
The set of Les Miserables brought a dynamic spectacle making you feel like you were in early 19th century France. Photo / Paul Taylor

Accoustically, the orchestra is a star of three hours duration and their rendition and accompaniment of numbers and narrative is wonderful. Having live musicians always offers a warmth and fullness to a show and blends so well with live voices, so hats off to a fabulous team.

The large choral numbers, while set attractively, were often so loud as to be distorted and the language difficult to decipher. This issue with diction was addressed incredibly well by some of the principals and the songs in the second act generally provided much more gentle sweet resonance but it is a trap to be so audible when a note gets missed.

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The Inn keeper played by Sam Draper made sure to bring a few laughs to the show. Photo / Paul Taylor
The Inn keeper played by Sam Draper made sure to bring a few laughs to the show. Photo / Paul Taylor

Les Miserables is a tale that should be set and finished in the time it was written but sadly has traction even today, perhaps accounting for its long-lasting popularity, and this bridge of understanding was picked up and delivered by some of the main actors. Singing aside, this is a story of much drama and passion, and it only feels real if the actors can convey the drama of the occasion.

Annabelle Flood playing Fantine and James McNeill looked to have brought true emotion to this scene. Photo / Paul Taylor
Annabelle Flood playing Fantine and James McNeill looked to have brought true emotion to this scene. Photo / Paul Taylor

From hilarious to ominous, evoking laughter and disgust, Jane Pierard shone like a beacon with a perfect performance of the evil Madame Thenardier. Matt Kidd, every word as clear as crystal, struck a terrible tone (no pun intended) of agony in his last scene. Convincing acting too, was Mark Luscombe as Jean Valjean, believable through the years of change, challenging God in his heartbreaking prayer, Bring Him Home.

Charlotte Oldershaw drew sympathy with her delivery of love unrequited. These small gems of real truth sparkled at different moments throughout the show and brought the real story to the lap of the audience, seeking belief, that made the whole unforgettable. Shoes were tapping during the rousing march and tension mounted as the rebels fought over a splendid barricade.

Matt Kidd who played Javert performed with absolute precision even in his final scene of agony. Photo / Paul Taylor
Matt Kidd who played Javert performed with absolute precision even in his final scene of agony. Photo / Paul Taylor

Set in the sewers, factories, prisons and streets of France and Paris spectacular scenery towering up into the skies. Embraced with enormous energy and dedication by a solid supportive ensemble, director Lisa Jane Easter has taken this production to the same heights and depths as its conception and has brought out something quite remarkable from her cast in the telling.