Les Misérables Review

Senior Performances

After the huge success of Miss Saigon two years ago, Churcher’s College have taken on the equally daunting challenge of Boublil & Schönberg’s best known musical, Les Misérables.

If the standing ovation at the end of the opening night's performance was anything to go by, the school has another hit on its hands.

Jean Valjean & Javert in Les Misérables

Halcyon Sheen drew tears form the audience in her heartfelt and moving performance of the tragic Fantine. As did Rosie Botham as Eponine, and her singing of ‘On my own’ was one of many highlights of the evening. As young Cosette, Matilda Shapland cut a sympathetic character and, as her older counterpart, Bella Herraman-Stowers sang this vocally challenging role with ease and grace.

Nick Tomlinson and Tildy Bilsberry-Grass made a fantastic pair of Thenadiers, bringing much needed light relief but with just the right sinister undertone. Harry Fagge was ardent and totally believable as Marius and his singing of ‘Empty chairs’ rightly drew cheers from the audience. Samson Carroll was utterly committed as the student Enjolras, acting and singing with presence and energy. Moritz Flohr brought admirable chutzpah to his performance as Gavroche and his elder brother, Carl, was a suitably saturnine Javert whose suicide was especially dramatic and well sung.

Thenardier, Madame Thenardier, Young Cosette & Fantine in Les Misérables

Alec Murray was splendid in the taxing role of Jean Valjean, making complete sense of the character’s complex journey. The immense supporting cast were equally committed and focused in their performances of a variety of roles and I wish I could give them all the mention by name that they deserve. Suffice it to say that there were strong contributions from Elizabeth Turner, India Easson-Hastings, Holly Conder, Immi Evans, Ella Mitchell and Seb Swanborough which really reflected the strength in depth of this cast.

Helen Purchase ran a tight musical ship, guiding the excellent largely student orchestra with panache and it was great to see them take a well-deserved curtain call at the end.

One need only glance at the vast list of backstage and technical crew to be reminded that a production of this nature is a machine with many working parts.

Chris Pellett and Nathan Etherington once again worked their technical wizardry and special credit should go to Judy Stones for co-ordinating the army of costumes.

Gavroche, Cosette, Marius & Eponine in Les Misérables

What impressed most, however, was the commitment of the entire cast and crew. There was an overriding sense of working together for a common aim – to make the show as good as it could possibly. And they clearly had a fantastic time doing it. Congratulations to Stacey Carty for so skilfully guiding the production and giving the students the opportunity to shine so brightly. If there were a spare ticket, I would gladly go again….and again. I suspect that ‘Do you hear the people sing?’ will echo around the corridors of Churcher’s College for some considerable time to come.

John Lofthouse, BA (Dunelm) MMus, PGDip (Guildhall School of Music & Drama) 

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Les Misérables Review