Les Misérables at Christ’s Hospital a triumph

December 16, 2016

It is always interesting to attend a performance of a classic such as Les Misérables. It is after all now an Oscar winning film as well as one of the world’s longest running and most loved musicals.  

It is also a mammoth production with three hours of songs, battles, barricades and quick transformations. Would a school production be able to do justice to such a challenging piece?

The answer in short is yes, it could. Christ’s Hospital’s cast of many under the leadership of new Director of Drama, John Johnson, were committed and energetic throughout creating a production of professional standards that left many of the audience asking whether some of the performers were actually pupils!

It was the ensemble scenes that really shone – ‘At the End of the Day’ was rousing and had terrific bite, ‘Lovely Ladies’ was suitably represented with coloured LED lighting and impressive costumes and ‘Master of the House’ gave the impression of a rowdy Parisian bar with some excellent comic turns from Cameron Blackshaw and Caitlin Slater as Mr and Mrs ‘T’. The sheer energy and commitment to acting the story in these scenes was terrific with each and every member of the company understanding and conveying the plot.  

This ensemble effort was typified by the revolutionary students – led admirably by Alexi Baramidze as a more than convincing Enjorlas. This group of boys showed a camaraderie that had great strength in the various attacks and passion and power in ‘ABC Cafe’ and ‘Drink with Me.’   

The set and lighting design deserves special mention. The moment that the barricade was revealed drew a grasp of delight and applause from the watching audience as it rotated from back to front. This coupled with a variety of lighting effects, gun shots and explosions helped to create a suitable atmosphere as the battle unfolded.  Christ’s Hospital’s Theatre Technician Simon Ashdown, fresh from working on the West End show of Les Misérables, made a huge contribution to this particular performance.  

Perhaps the most extraordinary performance came courtesy of Simon Salvi, whose portrayal of Jean Valjean, the redeemed convict was quite remarkable. Salvi’s efforts were admirable all round, from his emotionally charged rendition of ‘Bring Him Home’ through to his physical work in the rescue of the stricken Marius which demanded great strength. This was a fully rounded effort in a convincing creation of an in depth role and was just one example of terrific acting and convincing characterisation throughout the cast.