One of Broadway and the West End’s longest running shows, Les Miserables has been hard to avoid, with productions performed in over 40 countries worldwide. Following the journey of ex-convict Jean Valjean after evading his parole, relentlessly pursued by Inspector Javert, Les Miserables is a tale of humanity set against the backdrop of a French uprising, based on Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel. Although performed entirely by students, they handled the adult themes consistent in this abridged version well, owning up to the emotions, which incite the darker actions of this musical.
Each of the vocal performances, from the lead principals, to the ensemble members were clear and almost unfaltering, with just a few lyrical slips that are quickly recovered. The energy and exuberance displayed from the ensemble was most enjoying to watch, most particularly in full-company numbers such as One Day More. Evidently, musical director Alan Gibson has worked excessively hard with these young performers to achieve full-balanced harmonies, which were delivered with dynamic intensity. However, at points some of the principals lacked a degree of vocal power in their solos. Regardless of these minor quibbles, there were some standout performances amongst the leads, most notably Fraser Morrison’s portrayal of Javert perfectly capturing the menace and sternness of the inspector as he commanded the stage with awe. Ronan Corkey was another strong performer who had the vocals to match, giving a convincing depiction of the student Enjolras in a quest to revise the attitudes of the people of France. Robert Forrest’s Jean Valjean was mature and solemn but at times could be slightly monotonous, and seemed at times to lack the experience needed to execute such a prominent leading role.
The direction of Janet Robertson was enjoyable, but could benefit from more movement onstage in many of the solo numbers, which began to feature a stand-and-sing style of performing. Luckily, the vocal ability and acting credentials of the performers carried such numbers off with aplomb, most noticeable in Aimme Izatt’s emotionally packed rendition of I Dreamed a Dream.
With a splendid orchestra and simple yet very effective set, YMTS put on a delightful youth production of such a momentous musical.