December 2005 at Leighton Buzzard Theatre
Les Miserables tells the story of ex-convict Jean Valjean and his attempts to start a new life and make the world a better place.
Review by Lucy Adams and Suzy Peters:
Fantastic is the only word for it, the results were outstanding. Well done to everyone concerned- it was a real winner.
The production of Les Miserables Schools Edition by Leighton Buzzard Children’s Theatre Youth Section members was outstanding. There were so many stars and the audience were mesmerised from the moment the curtain rose. The young cast took the audience on a journey of tears, laughter, soul searching and reality. Accompanied by a ten piece orchestra under the skilful direction of David Allsopp the young people sang their hearts out. The chorus numbers were sung with passion and the drama skills employed were excellent under the direction of Sally Allsopp. All the large chorus numbers were executed exceptionally well. Memorable moments included the rousing number “One Day More” when the students fully of bravado and enthusiasm marched with flags waving little knowing the real fate that would befall them. The stirring chorus “At The End of the Day” showed the poor in shadow and squalor, it really encompassed the feeling of the time in France.
The scenes on the barricades were wonderful– the battle scenes were youthful and so sad as student after student fell to their death for the cause. The deaths of Eponine and young Gavroch were poignant in the extreme and really brought home the futility of the situation. The principal characters were all excellent– so many youngsters had a chance to shine.
Leighton Buzzard lad Iain Smith aged 17 who attends Vandyke Upper School played the convict Jean Valjean and acted his role tremendously well, the audience felt his emotion as he changed from convict to hero always trying to hide his guilty past. A tremendous performance from one so young.
Linslade youngster Michael Hailes, 18 who attends Cedars Upper School played the character of Javert and was perfect as the law enforcer who had to see justice done. Michaels singing voice resonated around the theatre as he retained his quest to catch up with Jean Valjean. Fantastic. Jenny White from Heath and Reach, another Cedars student, as Fantine was wonderful , she had exactly the right tone and pathos and her song “I Dreamed a Dream” brought a tear to many an eye.
Jay Lawrence 14, from Linslade as Marius was both youthful and exceptional. His “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” was haunting and this calibre of performance was exceptional. He was partnered by Angela Rotherham as Cosette who acted her role with charm and sweetness.
Abi Allsopp 17, another Vanyke student from Heath and Reach as Eponine was superb. She employed the audiences sympathy and captured our hearts as the young girl caught in a place where no one could help her. A beautifully rounded vocal and dramatic performance. Her rendition of "On My Own" was mature and captivating.
Madame and Tenardier were also great performers. Kassey Rutland who attends Vandyke Uper School played Madame and was worthy of the West End with her excellent comic timing. Kenny Smith who works in Leighton Buzzard had a fabulous voice as Tenardier and demonstrated great expression.
Joe O’Neill who lives in Leighton Buzzard played Enjoras with fantastic quality, his vocal ability was brilliant and he really led the student group forward.
Local middle School scholars Callum Fosberry , Andrew Fell, Emma Jones and Jenny Humphries were very good as the younger characters. Some wonderful moments both vocally and dramatically.
Les Miserables Schools Edition is something LBCT members will never forget from the oldest to the youngest involved everyone loved it and everyone worked very very hard. Lighting under the direction of Chris Wright showed great expertise, the backstage team led by Roger Partridge showed professionalism in their set changes. The costumes and props were just right from the paupers in the streets to the finery and pomp at the wedding. The set designed by Vandyke Upper School teacher Kristian Hewitt worked exceptionally well to add to a superb production which left the audience shouting for more and the performers desperate to do more. Leighton Buzzard Children's Theatre have six Potted Pantos in performance at The Leighton Buzzard Theatre in early March, an adaptation of the great Shakespeare play Midsummer Nights Dream in June and a surprise musical theatre production in July. The group which has 150 members aged 5-18 is as always busy, active and enjoying everything they do.