An epic tale of broken dreams, passion and redemption set against a nation in the throes of revolution. Nothing quite compares to the musical masterpiece that is Les Misérables.
As Scotch College launches itself into celebration mode for its centenary year, there is no better choice than one of the greatest musicals of all time, based on the 1862 novel by Victor Hugo. Directing the School Edition of Les Misérables is Linda Williams, backed by Choreographic Director Nina Richards and Musical Director Antony Hubmayer.
Les Misérables is the longest-running musical on the West End, having continuously run in London since it premiered in 1985. It is the second longest-running musical in the world, with music by ClaudeMichel Schönberg, original French language lyrics by Alain Boublil, and English libretto by Herbert Kretzmer. Les Misérables won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1987, the same year the Australian production premiered in Sydney.
Set in 19th century France, the story centres around Jean Valjean, a man who breaks parole after serving years of unjust imprisonment. Desperate to redeem himself, Valjean is relentlessly tracked down by Inspector Javert who believes people can never change their ways. Spanning several decades and set against the student uprising of 1832, the musical celebrates the survival of the human spirit.
For Year 12 student Ned Baulderstone, playing the role of Jean Valjean has been a full circle moment. “Les Misérables was the first musical I ever saw, and it was also the first Scotch musical I ever saw back in 2012. It was the thing that inspired me to come to Scotch. To be ending my time at Scotch in this role is amazing.” Year 12 Isabella Darwent is ecstatic to be playing the role of Cosette, and says that reading the original book last year helped give the story context. “The character of Cosette is the beacon of hope in the story. Valjean’s life is changed meeting Little Cosette, and she gives his life purpose,” she says.
Putting on a production of this scale is no mean feat, with a cast of 70 students from Years 7-12 including a complete double cast of principal roles, this musical was always going to be a challenge. “There are over 300 costume items, but we are in good hands with Trish Whittle at the helm as our Costume Designer and Coordinator,” says Williams.
Vocally, the roles are huge, requiring a lot of work and stamina. Vocal coaches Mark Stefanoff and Janna Romeo are on board this year to lend their expertise. But the cast are more than up to the challenge says Richards, who has seen the UK production more times than she can count. “The talent that we have, specifically from Years 10-12 in this current cohort of students is absolutely astonishing. They are just phenomenal. And their focus, attention to detail, practice and work ethic is all right up there,” she says. “We wouldn’t be able to do this show if we didn’t have that kind of talent.”
Audiences will be in for a treat this year as Williams says the team are using new innovations to stage the show in the Fisher Chapel with clever scenic design by Brian Budgen and projection design by Craig Williams. Staying true to the original version, the School Edition of Les Misérables trims about half an hour off the run time with some numbers slightly shortened, but still features all the favourites including One Day More, I Dreamed A Dream, Castle on a Cloud and Master of the House, stunningly performed by a 17 piece live orchestra.
In 2018, Scotch College was honoured to receive two Curtain Call Awards from the Adelaide Theatre Guide, winning Best Show – Youth Theatre for The Addams Family Musical and Best Female Young Performer for Hannah Hamilton’s role of Wednesday Addams. That follows on from Jordan Tomljenovic’s nomination for his role as Gomez in the Theatre Association of South Australia’s MusiCAL Awards. With only six shows in the season of Les Misérables, run, don’t walk to get your ticket: it’s set to be a sell-out. “And bring tissues,” says Richards.
Where: Scotch College, Carruth Road, Torrens Park SA 5062
Season dates: 26, 27 July at 7pm, 28 July at 2pm, 1, 2, 3 Aug at 7pm
Tickets: Adults $40 Child/Conc $20
Enquiries: Kate Crawshaw [email protected]