NODA Review – 2019 Les Misérables
5th March 2019 – Manx Operatic Society – Gaiety Theatre – I.O.M.
Director – Jeremy Tustin and Bryony Grant
Musical Director – Julian Power B.E.M.
Report Author: Eddie Regan
The Manx Operatic Society were delighted to have secured this show, based on the novel by Victor Hugo, especially as it was being staged in the same month as the the Society’s formation in 1949. Jeremy Tustin had worked on various aspects of Les Miserables over the years and had been invited to the Isle of Man to Direct this Production. Bryony Grant from the Society, in her first year as Assistant Director had been thrilled with her new challenge and was pleased with the dedication and hard work by the accomplished cast.
This was an exceptional Production by this very talented Society and the standard of performance, from all involved, was outstanding.
The experienced Julian Power B.E.M. had been invited as Musical Director and his reputation for demanding high standards from the cast and the sixteen piece orchestra, was very evident.The whole Production was a “ tour de force “ from the opening scene in Act1, set in 1815, in Digne, until the finale of Act 2 set in 1832 in Paris.The audience was enthralled by the ambience created by all the cast, who interpreted the stunning music by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg.
I saw no weak links on stage and the Direction Team must have been delighted with the end result.
There were so many excellent performances by the Principals that I hesitate to mention individuals but I feel I must mention the ones that particularly impressed me.I have seen Professional Productions of Les Miserables many times and I have never seen the role of Javert played better than tonight. David Artus gave a superb portrayal of the obsessed Police Officer. His acting and vocals were just what were required for this crucial characterization. Alex Toohey, was also exceptional in the iconic role of Jean Valjean. I was close to tears with his rendering of ‘ Bring Him Home ‘. Comedy was provided by Nicola Openshaw and Mark Dougherty, as Mme. Thenardier and Monsieur Thenardier, who were always in character as the ‘likeable rogues’. I also loved the delightful interpretation of Eponine by Dandi Dancox. I have seen this actress in Productions since she was 12 and she has developed into a very evocative performer.
I was so impressed by all in the Ensemble numbers. I always make a point of watching those involved and everyone, without exception, was never out of character. All who had individual lines to sing showed a high standard of performance.
Staging of this Production was exceptional, from the stunning video projections and set changes, together with excellent Sound and Lighting effects.
My wife and I left the magnificent Gaiety Theatre knowing that we had witnessed an exceptional evening of ‘ pure theatre ‘This was my last visit to The Island as N.O.D.A. Representative and I feel privileged to have been able to see such splendid Productions, by this talented Society, over the last six years.