Theatre Review: Les Misérables

An excellent and entertaining piece of music theatre

Presented by Elder Conservatorium Music Theatre

Reviewed: 22 June 2022

‘Les Mis’ is an iconic piece of musical theatre known and loved by many. Tonight it was presented by this year’s graduating students of the Elder Conservatorium Music Theatre. Over a very short period of time, this course, under the expert guidance of George Torbay, has become a premier training ground for musical theatre performers.

Those of us who love musical theatre know it is a performance skill that demands a great deal from its artists. One must be able to act, sing and dance at a very high level to have any chance of survival in an industry that has little mercy. The students who undertook to deliver this industry-standard performance of Les Misérables are well on their way to becoming household names. They delivered a full-blooded and accessible piece of work worthy of gracing any professional stage. The talent is a given; any audition process for top-class training demands a rigorous audition process. And like the real world, only a small percentage of the applicants make it through to be trained by industry-experienced professionals who share their knowledge and talent to develop these young people into consummate professional performers.

Director Erin James’ deft and skilful guidance enabled these emerging artists to give a night of brilliant entertainment. The addition of Alexander Kermond’s choreography allowed the cast to excel in its delivery of an extra-special night in the theatre. These elements, seamlessly collaborating with George Torbay’s skilful musical guidance of a 16-piece orchestra and a cast of 21, made magic at the Scott Theatre tonight. Perfect tempos.

James’ attention to detail, especially in the ensemble work, was a study in craft, the singing was superb and integrated flawlessly with the action, the movement of the action seamless, and the choreography cleverly integrated into the story – a skill every music theatre performer must master. It was effortless. This is a talented and versatile ensemble of players who are musically brilliant and they can back it up with some impressive acting and dance/movement skills. The finales to both acts were impressive; the vocal ensemble work was better than some professional shows I have seen.

The principal roles gave us an insight into how many emerging artists will be heading out into the industry. Here are a few names you might want to put into your diary to remind yourself in a few years’ time you first saw them in Adelaide.

Joshua Ridge – His Jean Valjean was pitched just right, and his version of Bring Him Home reduced this old man to tears. Callum Worthington – this is a very promising voice too; he is tall, handsome, and he can act! Triple threat! Ambrielle Payne – Fontine. It’s a really hard sing that appeared to be effortless because of the truthful acting. Jeremy Thomas – Marius. A performance that grew in stature as the show demanded. Mackenzie Garcia – Cossette. Look out when this voice grows into its boots; beautiful.  Eponine – Played flawlessly on opening night by understudy April Beak, a flawless job. Madame Thénardier – Shanee Osbourne threatened to steal the show (and almost did); that personality will be unstoppable;  and Thénardier  – Harley Dasey – excellent comic ability. Enjolras – a very capable performance by Lachlan Moss. Harrison Thomas as young Gavroche was a force to be contended with. (Bet he will still be around when he’s old enough to take the stage in an adult leading role). The children were skilled and perfectly cast to complement their adult selves. Well done Rebecca Lanzilli – young Cosette and Lila Messenger – young Eponione. Sterling work.

A performance at any institution is always a demanding thing to stage to give all students a real experience of what they have to master in the professional world of performance. The production values of this work were second to none. The level of technical expertise that backed the show could have been put on any professional stage. Adam Gardnir’s set was simple, streamlined and adaptable. Christopher and Carolina Snape’s lighting design was inventive and theatrical, Mosaic Audio Visual did a great job with sound, radio mics and follow spots, and the presence of an armourer warns you there might be a loud bang or two in the barricade scenes.

There are too many people involved in this production to mention everyone by name. If anyone feels left out, they shouldn’t. This full-scale music theatre presentation presented at professional level by a group of students in their graduating year shows clearly how successful George Torbay has been in gathering a bunch of excellent teachers around his vision to make the Elder Conservatorium Music Theatre department world-class in its development of professional music theatre performers

Congratulations to everyone involved; what an excellent and entertaining piece of music theatre.

Reviewed by Adrian Barnes 

Venue: Scott Theatre University of Adelaide

Season: 22 – 26th June 2022

Duration: 3 hours with 20 minute interval

Tickets: $49.00 Concession/Student $39.00

Bookings: https://www.trybooking.com/events/landing/880402

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