Les Miserablescomes to Bexhill

Although some may disagree, I do not consider Les Miserables to be a musical. To me it is an opera. An opera with all the grandeur, tragedy, pathos and fine music to be found in any of the classics-albeit not in Italian!

Consequently, any amateur company attempting to present this masterpiece must be well aware of the enormity of the task facing them. How much greater is the reward therefore when a triumph such as that scored by Mad Fish is brought to the stage.

Many people will be familar with this show which has been popularised even further by the recent movie and DVD comparisons therefore are far more likely to be made. I have seen several productions and can say it stands comparison to most and outshines many into the bargain.

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Firstly we were treated to an 18-piece orchestra playing behind a set which adapted to fit all aspects of the story as it unfolded. This was further enhanced by the fine sound and lighting effects. We may not have seen flashes from the gun barrels on the barricades, but the fear and determination on the faces of the young men encouraging and comforting each other before they fell more than compensated for this.

Zach Le Cheminant’s fine acting and vocal talent brought Jean Valjean vividly to life battling to establish his good character inspite of his past and protecting his cherished Cosette. Carys Williams who played Cosette sang the part as well as anyone I have ever heard. This was matched, however, by Jade Vauses’ moving version of I Dreamed A Dream. Her tragic role of Fantine was played to perfection and her death scene left few dry eyes in the house.

There were so many fine performances in this production. Andy Rose made a dashing Marius, and his erstwhile love Eponine was strongly played by Kathryn Stewart. Sam Hickman was magnificent as the boy Garroche. His personality lit up the stage, and I am sure his voice would have been heard at the rear of the balcony even if his radio mike had packed up.

The show is not without humour and this was provided in no small measure by Luke Willard and Georgia Stait as the disreputable inn keepers Monsieur and Madame Thenardier. One could be forgiven for thinking Georgia had studied Helena Bonham Carter’s film performance in detail as her fine portrayal made one think the star herself had made a guest appearance in Bexhill.

Review by David Hunt