"the gross and scope of my opinion ..." Hamlet I,1.
Sunday, November 18, 2012
Young Generation at the Civic Theatre
show a sell-out; every show a standing ovation.
surprise to those who know Young Gen's work, or who saw them man the barricades in 2006.
new production is every bit the equal of that one – some of the
cast lucky enough to be in both. And many of this company are making
their final appearance with CYGAMS. Because, though it's easy to
forget, this is a youth company, constantly renewing itself.
Jeffery's direction achieves unbelievable professionalism, in a
seamless show where music [Bryan Cass in charge] stage management
[Dawn Lawton heading the team], costume, sound and light come
together in a flawless whole. [The dockside brothel Lovely Ladies
just one of many impressive stage pictures.]
then of course there are the performers. Many of the huge cast are
alternating roles, giving them more to learn, but giving more of the
youngsters a chance to shine. So Henri de Lausun, for instance, is a
student revolutionary some nights, a strongly sung Javert on others.
[The boys' voices are commendably mature generally; Tom Tull's Javert
is just as spine-tingling in "Stars".]
major characters are shared, and it is interesting to see different
approaches to these iconic roles. So we enjoy Callum Crisell's
dissolute, evil, baby-faced Thenardier, as well as Josh Butcher's
priceless gawky, grimacing Master of the House - he is also
the kindly Bishop in the Prologue. Two brilliant heroes: Sam Toland's
assured, nuanced approach, or Chester Lawrence's more visceral
Valjean, emotionally charged especially at the start.
romantic Marius is shared between two experienced actors: Bart
Lambert, passionate and direct, heartbreaking in A Little Fall of
Rain, and Luke Higgins, a convincingly cerebral rebel, a touchingly
contemplative survivor in the deserted café.
this is very much a company show, with the ensembles one of its great
strengths, some performances do stand out [though there's not a
single weak link in either cast]. Alice Masters makes a vulnerable
Fantine, but knows how to sell a show-stopper. Sophie Walker has
great presence as the feisty Eponine, one of the most complex
characters in the piece. And Kathryn Peacock's Cosette has an
attractive vocal style. As the hot-headed leader of the young
revolutionaries, Andrew Steel gives an inspiringly impassioned
performance, and Gavroche, youngest recruit to the cause, is a
cheeky, confident Jackson Buckler, and not only in his spotlight
trio and quartet towards the end of Act One are both beautifully sung
and staged, there's a poignant nobility to the staging of Empty
Chairs, and the enormous forces are always thoughtfully deployed. Do
You Hear The People Sing is built skilfully, both musically and
visually; the conga exit from the Ballroom [the setting effectively
suggested by a couple of swags and a lintel] and the whole company
entrance for the rousing finale are perfectly timed.
an achievement! Artistic excellence, full houses, a highlight of the
year, I'm sure, for many of the audience, and for these factory
girls, nuns, beggars, wedding guests and sewer rats, a memorable
milestone in their performing career.