Theatre Mirror Review>"Les Miserables" "LES MISERABLES">

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"Les Miserables"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The Little Theatre of Fall River opens their 80th season with the epic musical "Les Miserables." The musical won numerous awards when it first opened on Broadway in 1987. The audience is transported back to early nineteenth century France and the brave stand for freedom. "Les Miserables" is as fresh today as when it first opened; and at this year's Tony Awards Show, the latest Broadway version walked away again with the top award for Best Musical Revival. Written by the great French poet and novelist, Victor Hugo, this version has music by Claude-Michel Schonberg and original French lyrics by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natal with English-language libretto by Herbert Kretsmer. Directors Roberto Soares and Deb Sadler and musical director by Alex Tirrell lead their incredible cast with terrific voices in this enjoyable epic adventure which moves you to laughter and many tears along the way. Bravo!

Roberto and Deb block their enormous cast beautifully on their gorgeous set. Alex's harmonic blend of voices in the duets, trios, quartets and group numbers is astounding.  His 16 piece orchestra is phenomenal. Jen Bellanti supplies the choreography for the show. Aaron Gendreau-Visco leads the cast as Jean Valjean. He brings depth to this multifaceted character with a checkered past who finds redemption by living a life of virtue. His strong tenor voice soars off the charts in all his numbers especially "Bring Him Home" when he prays over Marius during the siege and in "Who Am I" when he confesses he is the real Valjean to save another innocent man's life. Aaron delivers an emotion packed performance and his final song will leave you in tears as Valjean asks God to bring him home. "To love another person is to see the face of God" is sung as Valjean dies.

Matthew Barnes is topnotch as Javert, Valjean's nemesis. He has a marvelous vocal range going from bass notes to a high baritone a few notes later. Matthew's two solo numbers are powerfully rendered. The first is "Stars" where he compares his relentless hunt of Valjean and justice to the constellation order of the stars and the second is "Soliloquy" when Javert realizes Valjean isn't completely evil like he thought, finally commiting suicide because his lifelong view of the world is destroyed. Two strong performers who play off each other splendidly.The pretty brunette, Jessalyn Sadler Correa as the sympathetic Fantine wins your heart with her "I Dreamed a Dream" with her acting and singing prowess. Fantine describes her troubled past in this number while the gutwrenching "Come to Me" as she lay dying in the hospital as she begs Valjean to take care of her daughter, Cosette. This melody is used later for "On My Own". Young Cosette is played by Brooklyn Skye LaValley whose strong voice is heard in "Castle on a Cloud."

Peter-Henry DaSilva as Marius has a gorgeous tenor voice, which he displays in his solo "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables", a tear jerking song about his dead comrades, in the romantic ballad "A Heart Full of Love" with Cosette and Eponine, the quartet "In My Life" and in "A Little Fall of Rain" as Eponine dies in his arms. His voice is also heard in the rousing anthems, "Red and Black", "Do You Hear the People Sing?" and "One Day More." I last reviewed him as Freddy in "My Fair Lady" in 2007 for Star Players. The gorgeous ingenue, Cosette is played by Amy Gingras whose marvelous soprano voice soars off the charts in her duets with. The harmonic blend in the reprise of "A Heart Full of Love" with Aaron and Peter-Henry is astounding.Tyler-Lynn Tavares is stunning as the heroic Eponine. Her fantastic voice is heard in "On My Own" when she decides to stand with Marius even though he is in love with Cosette and after she is fatally shot in "A Little Fall of Rain" which is a tear jerking, emotionally draining number that leaves the audience in tears. Tyler gives the character a backbone with an endearing quality that makes the audience root for her.

Eponine's comic but despicable parents are excellently played by Peter Cook and Vanessa Raposa. They are hilarious in "Master of the House" as they swindle their customers. He is particularly loathsome as he robs the dead bodies in the sewers in "Dog Eat Dog" and comic again as they reenter dressed to the nines to swindle money from Marius in "Beggars at the Feast." Vanessa is a hoot on her verse of "Master of the House" where she describes her husband's small love making prowess. Her mistreatment of little Cosette is another standout moment for her and also funny is when she falls in the wedding scene with her bloomers showing. I first reviewed Vanessa as Mrs. Lovett in "Sweeney Todd" back in 2007. She learned that role in a week. Another dynamic presence in the show is Robin Weldon as Enjolras who has a marvelous tenor voice. His strong voice is heard in his many anthems including "Red and Black", "Do You Hear the People Sing?", "One More Day" and "Drink to Me" with his fellow students. i last reviewed him as Gaston in "Beauty and the Beast" with Jessalyn as Beauty. Ryan Durkay leads the male chorus in "Drink to Me" with his strong baritone voice. One of the youngest performers in the show is Robert Goulet Jr. as Gavroche who appears with the street beggars in "ABC Cafe" and when he reveals Javert is spy in "Little People." He dies heroically trying to obtain more ammunition when he is shot by a sniper. Kudos to the awesome and fabulous vocal prowess of the entire cast. So be sure catch Little Theatre's rendition of "Les Miserables". It is one of the must see shows of this autumn season.

"Les Miserables" (16 - 19 October)
@ 777 Elsbree Street, FALL RIVER MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide