Review of Les Miserables at Queen’s Hall
Youth Deliver On ‘Les Miserables’
By Nigel Telesford
Students from around the country earned themselves a resounding round of applause at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s last weekend as a capacity audience assembled and showed appreciation for their performance of Les Miserables School Edition. Staged by Caribbean Theatre Productions. This world-famous musical was written by French poet, novelist, playwright, politician and moralist, Victor Hugo and as of October 2010 has achieved the honour of being the world’s longest running musical.
CTP CEO, Nicholas Gordon portrayed the role of the lead character, “Jean Valjean” in the story that recounts his struggle against adversity in 19th Century France. Packed with ever relevant themes such as love, tolerance, kindness, compassion, youthful rebellion society and is value systems, justice and hope for the future, Les Miserables took the audience on a musical journey through time, with most of the young performers in it gracing the big stage for the very first time.
“I feel a sense of fulfilment,” Gordon said. “I’m really proud of the kids and the cast because we really worked hard at perfecting this craft. Most of them it was their first time doing this sort of play and I’m really proud of them for the work and the dedication and the commitment that they put into this for the last three months. What I love especially about this production is that people can so relate to it and it has such a positive impact on people’s lives, I really feel honoured to be able to bring forth the message that to love a person is to see the face of God and I think people just need to take heed of that and live in peace and love and unity,” he continued.
Director, Dr Helmer Hilwig is ecstatic about this production and the concept behind it. Having worked with Caribbean Theatre Productions last year on West Side Story, Hilwig was delighted to reunite with the production team again and thrilled with the efforts of the largely debutant cast.
“I’m feeling very good about it, especially if you keep in mind that 90 per cent of these children have never been on a stage before. The whole idea is a high school Broadway production: so we take these high school students and mix them with some more experienced people like Victor Prescod and myself and then we try to get them to achieve a high level of artistic production. Some people have said (to me), they went to London and they saw this and they love it. The French Ambassador can’t stop talking about it. He just arrived in the country and he’s just amazed that we have this level of artistic expression. For me, the nice thing about it is that other than three people who were in West Side Story before, the rest all came to rehearsals in their school uniforms and most of them had no stage craft or experience at all,” Hilwig said.
Hilwig believes that this experience will impact tremendously on the lives of these students.
Veteran actor/director and producer, Raymond Choo Kong also heaped praise upon the production and its sponsors, cast and crew.
“I loved it,” he exclaimed. “I was just telling my friends here that all the Ministries and all the sponsors who supported it, I think it’s very well worth it cause its really pushing the young people and I think Helmer did a fantastic job. It was wonderful – great voices, they’re going to learn to act and i’m looking forward to seeing some of them in the future. The girl who played Eponine – that is an actress! She stood out! She’s an actress. She didn’t sing all her songs – she performed her songs! She blew me away. These are 13- and 14-year-olds, can you imagine if they stick with this what they can do when they mature?”