Student Theater Review

A Gifted Performance of 'Les Mis¿rables'

Thursday, March 13, 2008

There was plenty of passion as soaring songs told stories of love, tragedy and revolution in Northwest High School's performance of "Les Mis¿rables."

From the opening, when chained, ragged prisoners were whipped down the aisle of the auditorium wailing in despair, to the rousing finale about revolution, this production showcased some remarkable talent.

"Les Mis¿rables" takes place in an impoverished 19th-century France, its story following the lives of several characters living in a time of revolt against an oppressive government.

As the musical begins, the protagonist, Jean Valjean (Miguel Amaguana), is paroled after spending 19 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving sister. Enraged by the injustice of his punishment, Valjean commits another crime. However, he is spared by a bishop who encourages him to start a new, virtuous life.

For the next 20 years, he seeks to redeem himself in a series of selfless acts that connect him to the other characters and their rebellion against the tyrannical regime.

The strong plot line is made all the more captivating by the sharp and diverse characters who give the show its unique flavor. An exceptional performance by Justine Moral as the hopeless romantic, Eponine, moved the audience again and again, while Matt Worman and Elyssa Bosco, the over-the-top evil innkeepers, kept the crowd laughing. As Fantine, the poor ill-fated factory worker, Ines Nassara sang beautifully.

Still, two actors were standouts. Llewellyn Dixon, as the police inspector Javert, who relentlessly pursues Valjean, embodied the authority and power of the government he represented with his sweeping gestures, a dominating stance and deep resonant voice. As Valjean, Amaguana took on one of the largest roles in musical theater and handled it like a pro. The choreography by Shawn Cosby also kept this fast-paced and complex production flowing and exciting.

The opening night Friday was also the birthday of the director Sherion Cosby, and although the cast invited everyone to join in celebrating her, it was she who gave the gift of wonderful theater to the audience.

Alex Donesky

Bethesda-Chevy Chase

High School

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