By Dani Cronin
The auditorium was cloaked with an aura of anticipation during the second weekend of March, as a sell out audience eagerly awaited the BHHS winter show: Les Miserables. Then the musical began, and the curtain opened to reveal a beautiful set constructed to represent France in the early 1800s. The audience was enthralled from the first note of the opening number to the finale, when the entire cast and crew of the production was commended onstage with a standing ovation.
The cast, comprised of over 40 people, awed the crowd with large ensemble numbers, such as At the End of the Day, Lovely Ladies, and Master of the House. Additional highlights included featured performances by Charlie Winston (Jean Valjean), Megan Hwang (Fantine), Charlie Cohen (Cosette), Shea Gordon (Javert), Jake Wild (Gavroche), Dominique Karanfilian (Eponine), Brendan Higham (Enjolras), Michael Ramsey (Marius), and others. The entire ensemble performed beautifully with well rehearsed harmonies and stage directions, and everyone acted with immense stage presence.
Construction crew, under the direction of Andre Sguerra, created an authentic set, which included a barricade for the revolutionaries, a street and bridge for city scenes, and the inn run by the Thenardiers. Sophomore Nicole Tissot, who spent hours creating the set and was also part of run crew, recalls that “the hardest part of the show was taking apart the barricade after the battle scenes. It was probably one of the hardest scene changes we’ve ever executed because there were so many incredibly heavy pieces to move and it was all happening on a lit stage, which meant it had to run smoothly and quickly.” Both the run and construction crews worked tirelessly to put the show together, and it was evident during the performance.
Costume design under the tutelage of Norma Karanfilian was also exquisite. Elaborate detail was paid to each article of clothing, from the red vests and coats of the revolutionaries to the hilariously dressed Thenardiers (played by Arielle Greenspan and John Duarte), as well as the intricate wedding dress worn by Cosette (Charlie Cohen). In addition, kudos goes out to Amy Menache for leading the props crew, who managed every single prop used in the production. This included four huge tables stacked end to end with props, highlighting an elaborate wedding cake, lifelike muskets, and even real fruit and bread eaten on stage.
It is evident that everyone involved in the production worked extremely hard to recreate France in the 1800s, and it showed throughout the musical. Every cast member was able to embody his or her character and overcome this obstacle, and they all gave their role life outside the script with their own actions and stage presence. Senior Charlie Winston, who played Jean Valjean, says it was especially challenging to put himself “in the mindset of such a damaged man who has lost everything.” He, as well as everyone else, rose to the challenge, and the cast was successful in replicating the authentic French characters they were playing.
The cast and crew also had a lot of fun while preparing for the show, and the audience could feel how close everyone became during songs such as Drink With Me and Bring Him Home. Sophomore Sydney Nepo confirmed this, saying, “we have all become really close over the past few months since we have spent so much time together. Everyone in theater is part of a family and this show has been such an amazing experience.” From long rehearsals to dinners, the whole company is grateful for their involvement in the production.
Congratulations to James Gulick, Jonah Piali, John Anthony Lopez, and all of the incredible, hardworking members of the Varley Players on a very successful production of Les Miserables. All of the members of the crew did an outstanding job working behind the scenes to make sure the set, lighting, props, and costumes were perfect, and the whole cast shined on stage, making their hours of rehearsal and preparation look effortless. The show was a truly memorable performance, and on behalf of everyone who got to experience it, my only wish was for it to have gone on at least “one day more.”