Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

August 11, 2008

Les Miserables -Youth

Exit 7 Players, Ludlow
through August 17, 2008
August 8, 2009
By Donna Bailey-Thompson

The tension of social unrest – generations of injustice that led to France proclaiming a Second Republic – and the individuals caught up in its life-changing drama, are knocking the socks off audiences as performed at a professional level by dedicated amateur actors ranging in age from five to eighteen. In this abridged version of the blockbuster musical, "Les Miserables," the integrity of Victor Hugo’s classic novel is honored and in many respects intensified by the awe-inspiring performances of 47 young people.

Based upon the high quality of Exit 7 Players’ productions, the professionalism of their "Les Mis" should not be surprising, but, it is. To inspire such outstanding performances is a testament to Director/Choreographer Jenn Bauduccio’s skill and the cast’s trust in her guidance..

Exit 7's "Les Miserables" Special School Edition is an outstanding theatrical experience. As the dying Fantine, Monica Giordano’s solo is heartbreaking. Other emotional peaks are attained by Michelle Waslick, age 9 (Gavroche); Tray K. Sanders, age 13 (Enjalras); Sarah Banning, age 15 (Eponine) whose "On My Own" breaks more hearts. The amoral Thenardiers – Lisa Rizza, about to become a college freshman and Colby Herchel with three years acting experience – offer lively, humorous nastiness. Star-crossed lovers Cosette (Katie Stiefel) and Sam Plotkin (Marius, age 16) pour out their longing for one another.

The determination of Jean Valjean (Gavin Mackie, high school senior) to become an honest man and the doggedness of the sadistic law enforcer Javert (Michael Piels who enrolls in NYU this coming semester) to destroy Valjean, infuse their scenes, singly and together, with raw energy. Their duets stir and alarm. Musical Director Devon Louise Bakum has infected the young cast with a desire to excel. The songs are not easy to sing, yet the chorus and soloists deliver with ease and conviction. The costumers – Bauduccio, Mary Hernandez, Sherri Montagna, Lori Rodriguez, Cheryl Chant – incorporated authenticity into their creations. The imaginative minimal sets are the handiwork of master carpenters Paul Hamel and Tom Marshall Jr.

Unsung are the parents and families of the cast who juggled their other responsibilities to support their cast member’s ambitions. Before the auditions, Exit 7 spent years planning and negotiating. And now, Bravo!