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Home | Maine State Music Theater Reviews | Les Miserables A Must See At MSMT

Les Miserables A Must See At MSMT

Photos by  Audra Hatch Photos by Audra Hatch

BRUNSWICK, ME - Les Miserables has taken Southern Midcoast Maine by force.  Although getting a ticket at this point might be difficult if you can get in to see this production, which runs through July 13, you will not be sorry.     Given the rave reviews from audiences who have already enjoyed Dream Girls and now Les Misérables, get your tickets now for the last two performances of the 2013 season, Gypsy and Mary Poppins.  They are selling fast as well.  
I have seen Cameron Mackintosh’s legendary production of Boublil and Schönberg’s classic (based on a novel by Victor Hugo) on Broadway and also when it was performed here at Maine State Music Theater (MSMT) in 2008.  I have always enjoyed this show, however, I have to say that the cast assembled for this production of Les Misérables is the most memorable and stands out as one of the finest musical theater performances I have ever seen here at MSMT.  Les Misérables is the world’s longest-running musical and has been seen in 42 countries by nearly 70 million people.  However, audiences still come back time and time again to experience the music, raw emotion and this classic epic tale of passion and destruction in 19th century France.  In Les Misérables a nation is in the grip of revolution, and a convict named Jean Valjean (Greg Goodbrod), is on the run.  Goodbrod, who is no stranger to MSMT, has always impressed me with his vocal ability, range and acting prowess.  He is nothing short of spectacular in this production and this is the best performance of this difficult vocal and theatrical role I have seen.  “Who Am I” in the first act and 
“Bring Him Home” are worth the ticket price alone.  Goodbrod truly is transformed into this character.  In Les Misérables, Valjean realizes that after he is paroled he can not keep a job when his employer finds out he is an ex-convict so he destroys his papers and blends into society eventually becoming a well-to-do and well-loved Mayor of a town.  He is, however,  hunted relentlessly by a policeman, Javert (Curt Dale Clark) for breaking his parole and there are several chance meetings which are well scripted throughout the play.  Clark is perfectly cast as Javert and I love his vocal range and he is always entertaining to watch.  Valjean keeps his world to a dying single down on her luck mother, Fantine (Heidi Kettenring) to raise her young orphaned daughter Cosette.   Kettenring does a great job with the classic “I Dreamed a Dream” and is believable right down to her dying breath.  Young Cosette is played by a local girl, Sophie Calderwood, who does an exceptional job staying in character and making the audience absolutely fall in love with this song bird.  This young actress makes this difficult role look easy and I credit her prior work at Brunswick’s Theater Project for preparing her well.  This is not Calderwood’s first time on the MSMT stage,  previously she played Duffy in Annie and we will be seeing her in Mary Poppins later this season.  Wait until you hear her sing “Castle on a Cloud”.  Young Eponine is played by Emma Rankins.   
The ensemble does a fantastic job in their many scene changes and I especially enjoyed their performance of “Lovely Ladies” and “Do You Here the People Sing”.  Members of this talented ensemble cast include: Joe Becherer, Melissa Bills, Brian Bohr, Michaela K. Boissonneault, Steve Calzaretta and his talented son, Bobby, Mary Beth Donahue, Christopher Ellis, Laurel Haitoff, Karissa Harris, Danielle Lane, Michael Notardonato, Jericah Jo Potvin, Chuck Ragsdale (who is always one of my favorite MSMT singers, dancers and actors), Emma Rankins, Will Ray, Terance Reddick, Alexa Reddy, Blake Stadnik, Maya Tepler (who grew up in Topsham and is making her MSMT debut) and Matthew West.  Although Tepler has some small ensemble and bit singing roles she is a talented standout in this production and someone you should keep your eye on.  
Director and Choreographer, Marc Robin should be commended for doing a superb job with Les Misérables.  I was really struck by the lighting effects each time a character died and the “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” song sung by Marius (Max Quinlan) was made more powerful with the blowing out of the candles.  I was struck by Quinlan’s vocal ability and was not really expecting that kind of performance and he is well paired with both Eponine (Manna Nichols) and Cosette (Siri Howard).  The much such cute couples and you can really feel the love is genuine between them all.  Nichols brings the audience to tears with her rendition of “On My Own” and the trio sing beautifully in “In My Life” and  “A Heart Full of Love”.
I always enjoyed the comedic characters of Thenardier (Gary Troy) and Madame Thenardier (Abby Smith) and this duo is well paired as the crass, shifty couple who have no scruples when it comes to getting and taking what they want from others and they are hilarious to watch.  “Master of the House” is always fun, but Troy and Smith take it to a new level by adding some bawdy touches that makes this performance more memorable than ones I have seen in the past.  It is nice to see David Girolmo (The Bishop of Digne) back this season (he previously played Oliver Warbucks in Annie and  Max in Sunset Boulevard at MSMT).  I just love that deep mellow tone of his voice.   Tyler Hanes who plays the young leader of the revolution in “Red and Black” and “Do You Here the People Sing” is well cast and is outstanding.  Alec Shiman, who is making his MSMT debut, is a real standout and his accent is spot on in his role as Gavroche.  He is a good little actor who I expect to go far as he continues his career in the Boston area.   
I would be remiss if I did not recognize my friend Musical Director, Edward Reichart, for the excellent job with the orchestrations of this musical.  His timing is perfect, as we have come to expect in past work here at MSMT.  The sets, lighting, sound and especially the special effects are all great in this production of Les Misérables and really help set the tone and make the show.  
I did not see a weakness in MSMT’s Les Misérables and expect the show will sell out every night.  Do yourself a favor and see this show if you see nothing else this Summer!  

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