Presented by Scotch College Performing Arts
Reviewed 27 July 2019
In 2012 Scotch College blew the phrase ‘typical school musical’ out of the water and set the bar for others and themselves extremely high with their incredible production of Les Misérables. Every year after that the College managed to amaze more and more with their excellent productions. In this, their Centenary year, the College has revisited Les Misérables with a stunning production, so big it requires two casts. This review is of the ‘London’ cast.
Linda Williams directs the musical with a brilliant eye for visual and emotional excellence and makes sure that every one of the very large cast, no matter how big or seemingly small their role is, shines and is in the moment every step of the way. Thanks to Williams direction, there is not one performer who doesn’t emote correctly at any given time. Her artistic taste with the ending in particular is a very beautiful piece of theatre. And what a genius move to flip the interior of the Fisher Chapel 180 degrees, and have bleachers seating so that there is no audience member without a view.
Antony Hubmayer’s musical direction is spot on as always, with expert assistance from vocal coaches Mark Stefanoff and Janna Romeo. Nina Richards is responsible for the fine choreographic direction, and special kudos to her for managing to place people in perfect straight lines and teaching boys to waltz (believe me, neither of these two things are easy). Craig Williams and Brian Budgen have tackled expertly the stage and set design respectively, allowing the entire production to flow as fluidly as the River Seine. Williams’ projections, along with Jason Groves’ lighting, provide a marvellously appropriate atmosphere throughout. Special mention must be made of costume designer Trish Whittle and hair and makeup coordinators Jody Fabbro and Vanessa Shirly – their expertise in their fields adds nicely to the overall atmosphere.
As Jean Valjean, 17 year old Harry Fiedler is magnificent. He commands the stage whenever he is present, and has the most intriguing richly textured and deep vocals for someone that young – it is so very easy to believe that he is a mature male who has suffered and experienced the hardships of life. This reviewer has seen many productions of this musical, both professional and amateur, but Fiedler still manages to put a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye with his spectacularly emotive and beautiful rendition of Bring Him Home – and his final scene is some of the finest acting I have seen from someone of his age.
Nicholas Burt as Jalvert, holds his own against Fiedler when it comes to commanding the stage and gives his character a feel of humanity and frustration in places that is very rarely seen from other performers in the role, particularly just before his final appearance. Sophia Thompson (Fantine) and Issy Darwent (Cosette) both have lovely, rich powerful soprano voices; whilst Issie Mennillo is a standout as Eponine, giving us a young woman tortured and torn between her love for Marius, nicely portrayed by Zac Seeley, and her friendship for him.
Will Petterson is highly believable as student Enjolras and his acrobatic skill in an important scene is positively mind-blowing. Young Lucas Nunn as Gavroche could play Oliver any day; with Jim Martin perhaps being the sleaziest Thenardier this reviewer has seen; and Laura Williams as his wife, giving us one of the best over the top laughs ever.
Don’t think that you have to have family or friends in the production to see it. Scotch welcome all to their excellent shows. The professionalism doesn’t just stop with the cast and crew; the front of house volunteers of parents and students exude it as well.
I marvelled at this production so much, I’m going back to see the ‘Paris’ cast.
Reviewed by Brian Godfrey
Venue: Fisher Chapel, Scotch
Season: 26, 27 July at 7pm, 28 July at 2pm, 1-3 August at 7pm
Duration: 3 hours 15 mins with 25 min interval
Tickets: $40 Conc $20
Click here to read Jan Kershaw’s review of the ‘Paris’ cast