After receiving glowing reviews when their production opened in Issaquah in November, Village Theatre’s latest musical production Les Misérables, directed by Steve Tomkins, moved to the Everett Performing Arts Center on January 10.
The good news is that additional shows have been added February 5 through February 9. With the addition of more performances, it becomes the longest running production in the history of Village Theatre.
Also of note is that the production just last week won a Seattle Times Footlight Award for one of the top mainstage musicals of 2013.
Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s musical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s novel of the same name has been wowing audiences since first opening in 1985. Since then, over 60 million people in more than 40 countries have seen it on stage.
Set in France, the musical begins in 1815 when France is in political upheaval, and convict Jean Valjean is on the run. Hunted relentlessly by the policeman Javert for breaking his parole, he must leave his past behind and keep his vow to raise the young orphaned Cosette. But with revolution in the air and Javert closing in, Jean Valjean has no choice but to fight for his life and sacrifice everything to protect the people he loves.
Friday’s opening night performance did not disappoint, even when the rotating stage floor malfunctioned during Little Cosette’s first scene, causing an almost 18-minute delay in the performance.
That stage floor – picture a giant Lazy Susan hidden smack dab in the middle of the stage – was just one part of what made this production soar. Envisioned by scenic designer Scott Frye, the floor, along with the complex set, meant the cast could walk while remaining center stage, the props could enter and exit seamlessly, and it allowed the audience to see both sides of the epic battle scene. It is probably one of the best executed set designs I’ve ever seen on stage.
Also soaring were the voices of the cast, especially Jean Valjean’s Greg Stone, Javert’s Eric Polani Jensen, and Enjolras’ Steve Czarnecki. Those three men’s voices poured out into the audience like a fine tawny port on a cold winter’s night.
Stone is a Seattle native and attended the University of Washington. He has played the role of Valjean on Broadway and he starred in a national touring production for a year and a half. He made his Village Theatre debut in 1993 in the lead role of Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar, a role he credits as his breakout role that jumpstarted his career, according to an interview published in the musical’s program.
Czarnecki, making his Village Theatre debut with this production, was breathtaking on stage when he sang in "Red and Black" and "Do You Hear the People Sing." It is understandable why he was selected as the under/study for Valjean.
Strong, solid performances abounded with Fantine’s Beth DeVries, adult Cosette’s Alexandra Zorn, Marius’ Matthew Kacergis and Eponine’s Kirsten DeLohr Hellend, whose performance of "On My Own" was stellar.
Rounding out the performances were the hilariously gauche Thénardier, played by Nick DeSantis, and Madame Thénardier, played to perfection by Kate Jaeger. A special mention must also be made for the children’s roles, which were beautifully performed.
The 14-person orchestra, led by conductor R. J. Tanicioco, also deserves star billing, as the musical’s mood transitioned the theatre effortlessly from heart-pounding and goose-bump producing ensemble performances like "Master of the House" and "One Day More" to the poignant performances like "I Dreamed a Dream" and "On My Own."
Costume designer Cynthia Savage’s attention to detail was evident in every outfit worn on stage. Over 200 costumes were required to outfit the cast.
Adding to the layers of complexity on stage was the lighting done by Tom Sturge. With a flick of a light change, the mood shifted from light to dark, golden to stark, warm to frigid.
The musical’s running length is approximately three hours. Everett Performing Arts Center is located at 2710 Wetmore Avenue. For tickets, visit Village Theatre’s website: www.villagetheatre.org.
Ensemble. Les Misérables Production photo.© 2013 Tracy Martin. Property of Village Theatre.