Last night, November 6th, was the opening night of the Brampton Music Theatre (BMT) production of Les Misérables. Based on a novel of the same title by Victor Hugo, Les Misérables is a musical tale of two storylines.
In one there is the tale of Jean Valjean (Malakai Fox), a former convict trying to redeem himself by living an honest and charitable life. Despite his efforts, he and his adopted daughter, Cosette (Carina Cautillo), end up on the run from inspector Javert (John de Pinto), an officer from his old prison who sees the law as absolute and the people that break the law as irredeemably evil in the eyes of God and man.
The second storyline follows a group of students in Paris. Distraught by the injustice of those suffering in poverty while members of the elite live lavishly, they come together with the purpose of overthrowing the government and bringing equality and justice for all of France. These plots become entwined as a student named Marius Pontmercy (Nicolas Cunha) meets and falls in love with Cosette.
Blessed with over 60 cast members and a talented production team, all of whom are volunteers, the BMT have created a high caliber production of Les Misérables. Much of the set was stationary throughout the performance and cleverly designed with the versatility to accommodate scenes of streets, prisons, cafes, sewers, and more!
The lighting and smoke effects were fabulous. I must give credit to the lighting designer, Johnnie Gooder. The lighting had such a big impact on bringing the show to life! It could blur moments of reality and fantasy, dizzy you with the bombardment of a battlefield, and plunge you through eerie twists of sewer tunnels. There were moments when I would be in awe simply for the way the lighting brought magic to the set.
I promise to move on from the production set-up, BUT FIRST, I need to talk about the red flag. There is a damn good reason that this flag is the cover feature on the pamphlet. It is an incredibly powerful symbol of the story, and its affect came in two parts. It first comes at the ABC café. The leader of the revolution, Enjolras (David Grimason), is talking about the need to rally the people as he is holding a red tablecloth. While it starts as simply a tablecloth, it seems to transform in his hands. Not in a literal sense. The red cloth in his hands is becoming hope itself, hope for a brighter dawn and an end to the dark night of tyranny. Later you see the moment on the pamphlet cover, where the barricades are enshrouded with smoke and all that can be seen is that red flag being waved in the air. Trust me, that is a moment you want to see.
Now for the all-important, albeit cliché, question: do you hear the people sing? Yes, and they are marvelous! Fox’s powerful voice easily filled the theatre. I especially loved the purity in which he delivered Bring Him Home. De Pinto has a beautiful voice that brought me to the edge of my seat during Stars. Cautillo is a wonderful soprano, a gem to hear in an opera and a perfect actress to play as Cosette.
Of all the cast, I would have to say that two caught my eye (and ear) the most were Nicolas Cunha (Marius) and Saphire Demitro (who plays the character Eponine). Cunha has a youthful voice with an intriguing quality. The best I can describe it is that his voice is princely. If one where making a musical based on a fairy-tale with a dashing, young prince, he would be the man to cast for that role. He is a perfect fit for playing Marius, and he and Cautillo’s first scenes together were wonderfully adorable.
Now, if there is any character whose heart you feel for the most in Les Misérables (next to Fantine, played by Andria Angelosante) it’s Eponine. Her unreciprocated love for Marius and the sacrifices she goes through to help him make you can’t help but love her. With Demitro’s portrayal of Eponine that love for her comes in tenfold. First of all, her acting was incredible. Her love, her pain, all of her actions are very believable and heartfelt. Second, her voice is soulful, powerful, and beautiful. I was completely wowed by it. Third, she WILL make you cry. More than once, guaranteed.
There are many things I enjoyed about Les Misérables. If I were to make any changes, any at all, it would be to bring MORE PEOPLE TO SEE IT! Really, Brampton, this show is worth it.Les Misérables is playing at the Rose Theatre every day from now until November 14th. You have a whole week. That’s plenty of time to grab some friends, get tickets, and hop on by to see the show. As for me, I’m taking my mom and a friend to see it on Tuesday. Will you be there?