Presented by: South Coast Choral and Arts Society
Reviewed: 11th May 2018
Director JJ Geelen has done great things at SCCAS. Despite the relatively small pool of local talent and handful of performers who are willing to make the regular trip from Adelaide for rehearsals, he has cast and directed many challenging productions. With two Adelaide Theatre Guide Award nominations for Best Musical in recent years, he is to be commended for his courage, contribution and success.
Les Miserables is his biggest undertaking to date and, recognising the limitations within which he works, Geelen and assistant director Sarah Bicknell, have aimed to focus on the human factor, which, on the whole, they achieve.
There are some good performances. Jon Greer is cast well as Jean Valjean. What he lacks in vocal strength he makes up for in his portrayal of the humaneness of his character, a man tormented by his past and inspired to seek redemption through his future actions. Guy Mansbridge plays the fixated and obsessed rival of Valjean, Javert. Mansbridge is consistent in his intensity, could perhaps have been a little more domineering, but is successful in allowing the important element of vulnerability to peek through. Jordy Irvine-Creaser is lovely as the oppressed Fantine and delivers an honest and emotional performance. Best vocals of the evening come from Kiera Turner as Cosette and Joseph Giblin as Marius. Both give fine performances and with Eponine, Natalie Harding, their rendition of A Heart Full of Love was a highlight. Andrew Smith is commanding as Enjolras although he struggled with the demanding range at times.
Oliver Reschke and Billie Turner deliver admirable comic executions of the Thenardiers and were audience favourites. Mention must also be made of the wonderful contribution of the younger cast members, Alexis Bruce as Little Eponine, Jasmine Walter as Little Cosette and Joel Pathus as Gavroche. Pathus particularly, in his first ever musical, proves a natural stage talent with fine vocals, outstanding acting and a presence rarely seen in one so young. Bravo young man!
There is a large and accomplished chorus who should be applauded for their unfailing characterisation. Coached by Deana Constable the ensemble numbers are vocally strong and convincing.
Unfortunately, on opening night there were some issues with mismatched timing of some of the solo vocals and orchestra, perhaps through nerves, although this will no doubt improve as the season progresses.
Victor Harbor Town Hall does not lend itself well to these extravagant musicals but the set design is clever, utilising a mezzanine level which houses the onstage orchestra, directed by Derek Walter, to great effect, doubling as a balcony and quickly and well assembled barricade. Javert’s death scene, often problematic in community productions, could have been staged with more dramatic effect.
One thing is clear in this production, every single person involved, both on and off stage, has given their all to deliver this iconic musical to their community and they deserve supportive audiences. Make the journey to this lovely part of the world and encourage them to continue with their fine work.
Reviewed by Trish Francis
Venue: Victor Harbor Town Hall
Season: 11th – 26th May 2018
Duration: 180 Minutes with interval