Donate Now to Support KDHX

Listen Live
Monday, 30 September 2013 22:20

Enjoying misery: 'Les Miserables' at Alpha Players

Written by Bob Wilcox
Rate this item
(11 votes)

The Details

Enjoying misery: 'Les Miserables' at Alpha Players
alphaplayers.org

I've seen "Les Miserables" several times at the Fox, in two versions, and a couple of times at The Muny. But the current production by the Alpha Players of Florissant is the first I've seen by a community theatre group. It will not be the last. It's a daunting project, and I hope it continues to be done as well as they're doing it at Alpha Players.

The large and enthusiastic opening night audience reflected, I think, both the success of the production and the popularity of the show itself. I'm in the minority in the latter regard. Three hours is more time than I really want to spend with this story, and the second act always makes me impatient to get to the end. Original author Victor Hugo has certainly supplied a pretty good tale, and perhaps in reading the novel it's easier to suspend disbelief that so many of these people would keep running into each other over the years and all over the map of France. And a novel allows for more depth in character development, which lessens the easy self-pity and melodramatic thrills that you get when this epic is condensed for the stage.

But director Sharon Cotner has handled this sprawling story intelligently, and she draws variety and liveliness from the large cast. Mike Blackwood gets a fine sound from the orchestra, and vocal director Becky Self Thorn has blended the voices well. The occasional choreography comes from Monette Dennis and Madison Dennis. Director Cotner, Stephanie Draper, and Brian Biernbaum have put together an ingenious unit set of facades, steps, and levels that functions well for most scenes, though it's not on a revolve, so we only hear the death of Gavroche – fine work by young Ronan Ryan – we don't see it. The wedding scene is played before black drapes, which shows off the colorful costumes by Barbara Langa and Kathy Slavik. For some reason, lighting designer Stephanie Draper keeps the stage in twilight much of the time, with individual spotlights that often aren't as bright as they need to be.

I hope I see more of Keith Boyer, who plays Jean Valjean. His singing of Valjean's high tenor is as fine as any I've heard; I suspect he may have operatic training. As Javert, Danny Brown's voice is not quite at that level, but his command of the implacable policeman's rigid morality and ultimate collapse is solid. Gruff-voiced Bob Efken rules the stage when his Monsieur Thenardier is on, assisted by NoreenAnn Rhodes as Madame T. As ill-fated Fantine, Heather Matthews has a lovely voice which I wish she'd project more fully. Margaret Borgmeyer does sing out and gives us another fine performance as Cosette, and Jessica Kahn fully elicits our pity as love-lorn Eponine with an admirably clearly spoken performance. Luke Steingruby makes a sweet-voiced Marius, and Jeremy Hyatt is a commanding Enjolras, leader of the student revolutionaries.

If you're a "Les Miz" fan, Alpha Players has a production of it you'll enjoy.  For more information: alphaplayers.org.

Additional Info

Sponsor Message

Become a Sponsor

Find KDHX Online

KDHX on Instagram
KDHX on YouTube
KDHX on SoundCloud
KDHX on Facebook
KDHX on Twitter
KDHX on flickr

Local Artist Spotlight


Dad Jr: Get Down. Hard.

Sun June 29

Graham Pagano

Mon June 23
Graham Pagano's debut album Quit Complaining is a high charged mix of old and new music. his old blues and classic country feel blended up with a rock and roll attitude makes this stripped down album explode…

KDHX Recommends

July
Saturday
26

Genevieve at Harvest Sessions 2014

Genevieve at Harvest Sessions 2014 Harvest Sessions welcomes Genevieve -- featuring Rebecca Ryan and Leslie Sanazaro -- to the West Pool Pavilion for a morning of acoustic music. This free Saturday morning concert series takes place at the Tower Grove Farmers'...


July
Sunday
27

88.1 KDHX Musical Merry-Go-Round Welcomes Sugar Free All-Stars

88.1 KDHX Musical Merry-Go-Round Welcomes Sugar Free All-Stars 88.1 KDHX Musical Merry-Go-Round welcomes Sugar Free All-Stars for a family matinee Sunday, July 27 at Noon. Kids under two are free. $8 advance tickets on sale now. Tickets available at the door for $10. Kids under two are free. For...


July
Thursday
31

Bradford Lee Folk & The Bluegrass Playboys

Bradford Lee Folk & The Bluegrass Playboys KDHX presents Bradford Lee Folk & The Bluegrass Playboys at The Stage, July 31 at 8pm. Tickets available online.   Born in Louisiana and raised in Missouri, Folk remembers watching his Dad pick the country blues on a...


Get Answers!

If you have questions or need to contact KDHX, visit our answers portal at answers.kdhx.org.

Online Users

8 users and 12300 guests online
Sign in with Facebook

SYSTEM: S5 Box

Login/My Account

Sign in with Facebook