Make us your home page
Instagram

Stage West offers splendid production of 'Les Miserables'

From left, Leanne Germann plays Madame Thenardier, Chuck DePalo is Thenardier, Brian Beach plays Jean Valjean, and Trinity Walz is Cosette during rehearsal of the musical.

Courtesy of Carol Ballard

From left, Leanne Germann plays Madame Thenardier, Chuck DePalo is Thenardier, Brian Beach plays Jean Valjean, and Trinity Walz is Cosette during rehearsal of the musical.

Please don't fret if you fail to pick up every plot detail or character nuance in Stage West Community Playhouse's splendid production of Les Miserables, playing weekends through Nov. 24. After all, the musical has more than 40 characters and two (or more) major plot lines spread out over nearly two decades and told in three hours of non-stop songs of love, death, war, despair and redemption.

What has made this tale of political unrest, social inequality, and personal loves and struggles in early nineteenth-century France an award-winning, world-wide phenomenon for nearly 30 years are its universal and timeless themes, composer Claude-Michel Schonberg's haunting musical refrains, Herbert Kretzmer's touching (and sometimes comedic) lyrics and Alain Boublil's book, based on Victor Hugo's 1862 masterpiece of the same name, itself based on an actual event.

Then there's director Barbara Everest's impressive players, vocal director Roberta Moger's thrilling singers, and musical director Wayne Raymond's splendid 12-piece orchestra. Actors came from far and near for the chance to be a part of this monumental work of art — and it shows.

This is not a star vehicle, though the unifying thread is ex-convict Jean Valjean (a stirring Brian Beach) and his relentless pursuer Detective Javert (a striking W. Paul Wade), so the casting directors had to find more than a dozen singers who could carry significant solos, as well as fine ensemble singers and talented musicians.

And find them they did. In spades.

Beach's Valjean, who spent 19 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread for his sister's starving son, is tough but tender. He's bombastically resolute as he wonders Who Am I? and achingly soft in his plea for fighters on the eve of battle, Bring Him Home. Wade as Javert, the straight-laced detective who does not believe in reform or redemption, uses his formidable physical presence to make Valjean's adversary thoroughly intimidating and his own breakdown all the more pitiable.

To help the audience recognize the passage of time, director Everest uses a semi-opaque scrim screen during the first phase of the show, set around 1815. When it lifts, it's eight years later, Valjean has discarded his convict's identification, taken on a new name and become a rich factory owner. Eileen Bernard's detailed costumes (period costumes by Costume America) make the difference between the rich and the poor factory workers and street people starkly apparent.

Factory worker Fantine (a radiant Victoria Primosch) is fired for having an out-of-wedlock child and belts her heartache over her faithless lover in I Dreamed a Dream. She ends up a prostitute (the chirpy Lovely Ladies) and dies, but not before Valjean promises to rescue her tiny daughter Cosette (an adorable little Trinity Walz singing Castle on a Cloud) from the rapacious innkeepers, Thenardier (a roguish Chuck DePalo) and his crafty wife (a totally delightful Leanne Germann), who provide much-needed comic relief with their bawdy Master of the House and conniving Waltz of Treachery when they sell Cosette to Valjean.

Nine years later (notice that Cosette has grown up), in 1832, a group of students led by the emotional, dramatic Marius (an emotional, dramatic Ryan Bintz) and dedicated Enjolras (a solid Patrick Gonzalez) gather their friends to challenge the current government. Marius and Cosette (a brilliant Brittany Gonzalez) all long for One Day More! for their various reasons.

Second act highlights are a grown-up Eponine Thenadier (a sincere, pitch-perfect Jessica Virginia) lamenting her unrequited love for Marius, On My Own; and a spunky, 8-year-old Maxwell Brazier playing the high-spirited, fearless little Gavroche, bragging about what Little People can do.

The large set construction crew kept the set pieces simple enough for quick, unobtrusive changes that keep the action going, with one monster of a street barricade that is as professional looking as any ever made. The final dress rehearsal/tech night had a few light and sound glitches (mainly balky body mics), which should be cleared up quickly.

Kudos to Stage West for bringing this stage classic to local audiences in a production worthy of praise from start to finish.

. If you go

Les Miserables

Les Miserables, a musical, weekends through Nov. 24 at Stage West Community Playhouse, 8390 Forest Oaks Blvd., Spring Hill. Shows are at 8 p.m., except Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 (note special price), students $15. Box office is open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, 2 to 8 p.m. Fridays, and one hour before each show. Call (352) 683-5113.

Stage West offers splendid production of 'Les Miserables' 11/07/13 [Last modified: Friday, November 8, 2013 5:13pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Glen Campbell's wife Kim discusses challenges, guilt caregivers of Alzheimer's patients, others face

    Life Times

    If there's one thing Kim Campbell would change about caregiving for Alzheimer's patients, it's the attitude so many of us have toward transferring a loved one from home to a long-term care facility. According to Campbell, it's often the most kind, loving decision you can make. It's not a sign of failure, but one of …

    Kim Campbell, wife of country music legend Glen Campbell, is acknowledged by those attending the free event where she shared the story of her personal journey with Alzheimer???‚??„?s disease and the struggles she faced caring for her husband on Friday (5/26/17) at the Suncoast Hospice's Empath Health Service Center in Clearwater. Empath Choices for Care, a member of Empath Health, and Arden Courts Memory Care hosted the free event where Kim shared her story to help others understand the early stages, how the disease changes lives, the challenges families face and the role of caregiver.
  2. What happened when I took my dad to a Pitbull concert

    Music & Concerts

    TAMPA — "So, you know how you like Pitbull?" I asked my dad. "We can see him."

    Selfie of Divya Kumar and Anand Kumar at Pitbull/Enrique Iglesias concert.
  3. Tampa City Council votes to accept travel invitation from Cuban ambassador

    Blogs

    The invitation came to Tampa City Council chairwoman Yvonne Yolie Capin in a June 9 letter from Cuban ambassador to the United States José Ramón Cabañas Rodriguez.

    The Tampa City Council voted 6-0, with Frank Reddick out of the room, to respond to a travel invitation from Cuban ambassador to the United States José Ramón Cabañas Rodriguez.
  4. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 25

    Events

    St. Pete Pride Festival: The daytime festival covers Central Avenue's Grand Central District with more than 350 vendors, multiple stages, live music, art and food. 9 a.m., Grand Central District, 2429 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. Free. (727) 342-0084.

    Kristen Whalen poses for a photo before the start of the St. Pete Pride Parade in St. Petersburg last year. It's that time of year again, so check with us for your planning purposes. [LUIS SANTANA  |   Times (2016)]
  5. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 24

    Events

    St. Pete Pride Block Party and Night Parade: St. Pete Pride's popular parade moves to downtown St. Petersburg's scenic waterfront. The block party brings DJs, food and drinks starting at 2 p.m. The parade steps off at Fifth Ave NE and Bayshore at 7 p.m. with fireworks at 9:45 p.m. 2 p.m., North Straub Park, Fifth …

    Thousands line the streets of Central Ave. during the St. Pete Pride Parade in St. Petersburg.  [Saturday, June 25, 2016] [Photo Luis Santana | Times]