June 29, 2013

Review: Maine State Music Theater takes 'Les Miserables' to soaring heights

By APRIL BOYLE

It was five years ago this August when Maine State Music Theatre last staged "Les Miserables." The epic musical is back at the Pickard Theater for a 2½-week run, and audiences are flocking to see the stunning production.

THEATER REVIEW

“Les Miserables” by Maine State Music Theatre

WHERE: Pickard Theater, 1 Bath Rd., Brunswick

DATE REVIEWED: Friday; continues through July 13

TICKETS: $43-$59

CONTACT: 725-8769; www.msmt.org

This time around, Maine State Music Theatre decided to forgo using a revolving stage, instead opting for a set from scenic designer Robert Klingelhoefer that magically appears from the rafters and glides into place from the wings of the stage. The cast carries on what doesn't float or glide, which is a choreographed thing of beauty in itself.

The set is well-suited for the Pickard Theater stage, providing a splendid backdrop for Alain Boublil's and Claude-Michel Sch?rg's soaring musical about love, loss, hope and salvation.

The production is directed and choreographed by Marc Robin, and features a different cast from the prior production. Returning Maine State Music Theatre favorites Gregg Goodbrod and Curt Dale Clark head up the 33-member cast as the musical's nemeses, Jean Valjean and Javert. The air sizzled with rivalry Friday night as the pair vocally faced off on "The Confrontation."

Goodbrod delivered an impassioned performance throughout as the self-sacrificing hero, Valjean. There was depth to Goodbrod's portrayal, with a wide range of emotions emanating from his naturally bearded, handsome face.

The heart-wrenching emotion of Valjean's plight was also conveyed captivatingly in Goodbrod's resonating tenor vocals. "Bring Him Home" was particularly stirring, delivered with a crystal clarity that could move even the hardest of hearts.

Clark, who is currently serving as the theater's artistic consultant, was commanding as Javert. His character's resolute dedication to duty resounded powerfully in "Stars."

His performance was made all the more poignant in the second act as Javert's beliefs unraveled, causing his tragic downward spiral into "Soliloquy."

"Les Miserables" has a strikingly beautiful score. And Maine State Music Theatre's cast delivered a rousing, memorable performance of it from start to finish. Along with Goodbrod and Clark, the production stars Heidi Kettenring (Fantine), Siri Howard (Cosette), Max Quinlan (Marius), Manna Nichols (Eponine), Tyler Hanes (Enjolras), Gary Troy (Thenardier) and Abby Smith (Madame Thenardier).

Real-life couple Quinlan and Howard harmonized gorgeously on "A Heart Full of Gold." And Quinlan's duet with Nichols on "A Little Fall of Rain" was an absolute tear-jerker.

Nichols and Kettenring tugged at the heartstrings in their ill-fated roles. Fantine's pain resonated in "I Dreamed a Dream," and Eponine's heartache was palpable in "On My Own."

A bawdy performance from Troy and Smith provided a little levity for the evening. Troy was an unforgettable riot as the unscrupulous innkeeper on "Master of the House," with nonstop antics and outrageously lewd gestures.

"Red and Black" nicely highlighted the vocal talents of the ensemble, with Hanes' rich vocals mesmerizingly showcased.

Other standout performances included David Girolmo as the Bishop of Digne, Sophie Calderwood as young Cosette and the perfectly cast Alec Shiman as the scrappy Gavroche.

"Les Miserables" is a bigger-than-life production that's enthralling to the senses, with an elegiac storyline, unforgettable characters and a positively spellbinding score. And this rendition is guaranteed to leave an indelible stamp on the minds and hearts of theatergoers.

April Boyle is a freelance writer from Casco. She can be contacted at:

aprilhboyle@yahoo.com.


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