Thursday, March 12, 2009

Actors' Playhouse: Les Miserable [3 reviews]

   David Michael Felty, left, is the ex-con, Trent Blanton the police inspector nipping at his heels in <em>Les Miserables</em>. Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre opened its production of Les Miserables; on March 6, 2009.

David Arisco directs a cast that includes David Michael Felty, Trent Blanton, Gwen Hollander, Margot Moreland, Colleen Amaya, Javier Ignacio, Christopher Hudson Myers, Melissa Minyard, and Gary Marachek. Eric Alsford is musical director, Colleen Grady- costume designer (with help from Ellis Tillman), Sean McClelland - set designer, Patrick Tennant- lighting designer, and sound design by Alex Herrin.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald, and to say she liked it would be an understatement:
The Les Miz that artistic director David Arisco and his team have delivered to the Coral Gables theater's stage is one of the finest productions in the company's 21-year history. The finest, if operatic megamusicals spell great theater to you.

Set designer Sean McClelland, for example, had to figure out how to supply the musical's swiftly changing scenery and myriad locations without using the show's trademark turntable -- and he did.... Lighting designer Patrick Tennent, sound designer Alexander Herrin and costume designer Colleen Grady (with an assist from Ellis Tillman) artfully match McClelland's achievement.

The bedrock strength of this Les Miz, however, flows from Arisco's casting. The production is anchored by David Michael Felty as Valjean, the transformed former convict, and Trent Blanton as Inspector Javert, Valjean's unyielding pursuer. Both have a deep understanding of their roles... both have superb voices, and both...will make an emotional observer weep.

A radiant Melissa Minyard finds all of the tragic beauty in the doomed Fantine. Gwen Hollander is heartbreaking as the plucky Eponine, the young woman who sacrifices everything for the man who loves another. Christopher Hudson Myers and the soubrette-like Nikka Wahl have the usual challenge of making Marius and Cosette's instant devotion seem credible, but they turn A Heart Full of Love (sung with Hollander's aching Eponine) into a thing of shimmering beauty.

To echo the audience's repeated shouts: Bravo!
Mary Damiano reviewed it for Miami Artzine: anyone who might have thought Christine Dolen was gushing hasn't read Damiano's review yet; be sure to click through and read the whole thing, I just couldn't decide what to snip for this summary.
Lavish. Sumptuous. Breathtaking.

Even these adjectives seem hardly able to describe Actors’ Playhouse production of mega musical Les Miserables.


Bravo to director David Arisco for assembling a stunning cast and design team to bring Les Miserables to life. His mix of local actors and those who have performed in Les Miserables on Broadway and on tours and local talent, combined with a team of innovative designers, makes for one mind-boggling collection of talent.


Les Miserables is the theatre event of the season. Don’t miss it.

Patrick Oliver Jones, Gwen Hollander, Chritopher Hudson Myers, David Michael Felty, Nikka Wahl, Trent Blanton, Gary Marachek and Margot Moreland, part of the cast of Les Miserables

John LaRiviere reviewed for Talkin' Broadway:
This Actors' Playhouse production of Les Misérables surpasses expectations. Magnificently sung and staged, the show is South Florida theatre at its best. It is wonderfully carried by David Michael Felty as Jean Valjean. Combined with admirable singing and acting talent, he embodies the role with passion and heart. "Bring Him Home" is rarely so beautifully sung. He is well paired with Trent Blanton as Valjean's adversary Javert. Blanton's "Soliloquy" stands as one of the show's best moments.
Micah 24601 is a local poli sci student, and guess what musical is apparent his favorite?
Well, you can hear them sing—gloriously—at the Actors’ Playhouse in Coral Gables. Their production of Les Miserables is an inspiring triumph. All future regional productions in Florida, beware: the bar has been set, and it has been set high. Judging by the conversation around me in the men’s restroom at intermission, I am not the only one who thinks so, either.
There's more, including photos of the cast. In one of his other posts, he has a video clip of David Felty singing one of the songs from the show at a karaoke night or something.

Les Miserable plays at Actors' Playhouse through April 5th, 2009.

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