Monday, February 16, 2009


WOW at the Public Hall Witham

Hugo's historical epic is too big for most stages, but WOW managed to tell his timeless story with passion and clarity. I particularly appreciated the precise diction of the whole cast. We heard words that are blurred even in the Queen's, even on the CD.

The familiar Bayard engraving stared out at us from the front cloth, then, against a charcoal sketch, the actors formed a series of stage pictures, letting Schönberg's operatic score work its magic. Nigel Northfield's lighting created some striking atmospheres.
And there were some very accomplished singer/actors among the large cast. Tom Ashby's solemn Bishop [he was later a student revolutionary], Zoe Rogers as Cosette, with a splendid Marius in Jake Davis. The Thenardiers, always a popular turn, were sharply characterized by Amy Trigg and Samuel Marks [in a frightful ginger wig!] Gavroche, the child who dies a hero's death, was a lively characterization by Elliott Elder. Faith Rogers was assured and affecting as Fantine, especially in Come to Me, her duet with Valjean, and in her return in spirit as he dies. Callum McKenzie was a strong Enjolras, and Sam Carlyle a touching Eponine.
Thomas Holland, slight of build and of voice, nevertheless made a memorable Valjean. Bitter at the beginning, his nobility shone through in later scenes, and he shaped his numbers with confidence and real empathy. His nemesis Javert was Thomas Clarke, whose strong voice and considerable stage presence made the most of “Stars” and his Seine suicide.
Perhaps inevitably, the choreography was limited; most of the effects were static. Amongst the most successful moments were the Montreuil ensemble, and the menacing barricade, lit from behind. “Empty Chairs”, with the ghosts of the fallen, was also very moving.
WOW, and their Artistic Director/MD Jill Parkin [assisted by David Slater], should be very proud of their Les Mis Lite. Even on the first night the production had power and polish, and the audience rightly cheered it to the Public Hall rafters.
production photos by Graham Batt


Anonymous said...

Hi Michael. Many thanks for a lovely review. Great to see you last night. Jill

Anonymous said...

What about Fantine? Her portrayal was one of the most moving parts of the show. Her ommission from this is unforgiveable. Please explain.If you did not like her performance at least you could have been constructive.I can see from the programme she is only 16 and this is her first leading role.Explain.

Kath Adkins said...

Thank you Michael for coming to see the show and for publishing your review so promptly. Your positive comments are much appreciated. Pleased you enjoyed the show.


Stewart and Kath

Michael Gray said...

Fantine certainly worth a warm mention, and now has one.
I should point out, however, that this is a blog, not an adjudication, and that, as in my newspaper work, nothing should be read into an omission. Explanation is no part of my brief, much less seeking forgiveness. And while we welcome all comments, we do prefer those with a signature.

Jennifer Papworth said...

I was excited to read a fabulous review of the organisation WOW's interpretation of Les Miserables. Jill and David, parental volunteers working costume and backstage assistance in general all assisted the cast in the overall effect. I know all involved are very proud of the youngster's performance regardless of what parts they played. Their dedication during rehearsals and enthusiasm leading up to show week whether leads roles or multi-part chorus they are all outstanding, which makes working for the organisation a real privelage. Thank you for your review Michael, I am sure the cast will see one of many copies printed off before this evenings performance and feel very proud of themselves.

Craig Watson said...

Many thanks for posting a brilliant review of Les Miserables - I was working on the show as stage crew and can tell you the production was thoroughly enjoyed by both cast and crew!

I am also the administrator/webmaster for the WOW website, and I have now updated the Les Miserables page with your review:

Apologies for the delay, however work has gotten the better of me!

Thanks again

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