The classic musical tale of freedom and revolution, "Les Miserables", began its run at Milwaukee's Skylight Theatre Nov. 22 and continues its run through Dec. 29. Wednesday night, Dec. 11, proved that the performers are still going strong with great reception as the group of talented performers gave a moving performance for a nearly sold-out crowd.
The cast of Skylight Theatre's "Les Miserables" are some of the most talented performers from across the nation. Luke Grooms starred as Jean Valjean, moving audience members to tears in his performance of "Bring Him home" and "Valjean's Death". These songs suit Grooms perfectly as his incredible vocal range and expressiveness bring the sentimental performances to the height of their potential.
Unlike most musical ensembles, it's difficult to choose one performer who stole the show, as the entire cast were outstanding singers who seemed to fit their roles well. If anything, the acting took a back seat to singing as some parts were over-acted at times, but this is more of a testimony to the talented singers and musicians than a hit to the performers as actors. Susan Wiedmeyer in particular gave a stunning performance as Cosette, singing with all the operatic prowess one might hope for in the character. Grooms and Andrew Varela similarly work very well together as Valjean and Javert as they face off in "The Confrontation", both their trained voices complimenting each other well for the iconic song. Even among the child performers, Luke Brotherhood made an impressive Gavroche both vocally and in his stage presence, embodying the spunky child of the revolution. And while vocals took a front seat to acting, Eric Mahlum and Rhonda Rae Busch were undoubtedly crowd favorites who showed vocal prowess as well as comic relief as Thenardier and Mme. Thenardier.
But performers aside, the Skylight Theatre itself is an excellent space for a production like "Les Miserables". The space is large enough to accommodate a large audience and ensemble, while small enough to make the viewers feel that they are a part of the action, present during key moments of action and woe.
The use of space is particularly prevalent during scene transitions. Much of the set is recycled to create new scenes, even using cast members to create props and setting such as trees. Through the many seamless transitions and the fast-paced momentum of the show, this three-hour production feels half as long, as the viewer is engulfed in the action taking place on stage. This is no easy feat, and Director Viswa Subbaraman shows great skill in creating this ideal pacing for such a dense story.
For showtimes and more information on Skylight Theatre's production of "Les Miserables," visit http://www.skylightmusictheatre.org/shows-events/on-stage/les-miserables.