Les Mis South Jordan Community Theatre
Review by: Jason Hewlett
I have just returned from what usually is a disaster of a musical when done at this level. Anyone taking on Les Mis is usually Les Insane in community theatre. Let me say I am blown away by what I saw tonight in Daybreak, South Jordan, UT, and I believe Claude-Michel Schonberg would be proud of this production and interpretation of his Tony Award-winning score.
The set was very well done, with excellent painting, craftsmanship, draping, sound, lighting, and costumes so meticulously made. The orchestra, led by Art Moore, did a very good job with a challenging score, carried by Bion (drums) and Kim (keyboard) Wimmer, the music turned out exceptionally well.
From the start it was youth at it’s finest. It is rare to see community theatre pull off Hugo’s masterpiece set to music, but then to see young people carrying the entire show, I’m not even sure if anyone in the cast is older than high school, and this knocks me out.
Logan Bingham’s presence as the lead character, Jean Valjean, captured the essence of this beautiful musical: forgiveness, love, sacrifice. As if he aged before our very eyes this is a young man that not only acts convincingly but has a booming, incredible voice. Still in high school, this is a young actor and talent to watch!
As if it couldn’t get better it does, once Curtis Nelson takes the stage as Javert and crushes the part with acting chops, commitment to the role, and a voice that would make Broadway critics believe Utah is really where it’s at. He makes you hate him and then feel sorry for him, as only a truly fine actor can, and owns the stage. Curtis takes it to the top and is certainly a star in the making, we will keep track of his bright future, as he has the option with his style, charisma, charm, handsome looks, and voice to go any direction: Hollywood, Broadway, sky’s the limit here.
Enter Fantine, with the now hard to top “I Dreamed A Dream” following Susan Boyle’s display on Britain’s Got Talent that has taken the song from a nice melody in a long musical to the true underdog anthem for the lowly of physical beauty, and now the song has a new owner while being sung by a gorgeous young lady, Amberlee Merrill. The maturity and depth of this voice was moving. An actress of the finest kind; where did these kids come from?
The powerful vocals and acting of Eponine (Sarah Keuhl), to the soaring voice of Enjolras (Spencer Sharp), the bizarre yet hilarious interpretation of Thenardier (Michael Butler), to the handsome and velvet voice of Marius (Max Wimmer), to the soothing voice and chemistry to her beau of Cosette (Megan Williams), this was a musical production I will not soon forget. And yes, they would make any age performing these roles proud.
Then the “little people” on stage steal their respective parts of the show; Gavroche played by the energetic, perfectly accented, and lovable Geoff Beckstrand, to young Cosette as a singing “Castle on a Cloud” by Maggie Scott, who’s diction within the song gave it true feeling and passion. Combined with the many powerful numbers by the full orchestra and each member of the cast, this musical not only lives up to it’s billing but will thrive “One Day More” with positive, inspiring productions like these being created nationwide.
I especially applaud the direction and vision of Toni Butler, a blessed gift to Utah theatre, who has taken a non-existent community theatre program in South Jordan, UT and passionately willed a movement of excellence and culture into this area. Having attended the productions since the beginning a few years ago I am floored by what I saw tonight.
Usually, due to my travel schedule and the amount of shows I attend (and perform) it is rare for me to take the time to get a review finished within a week of seeing it, sometimes two weeks. But here I sit, tonight, one hour after getting home, to let you know about it. And since there are a few dates left I hope you have a chance to see something so spectacular in community theatre as this before every ticket is gone. It’s a Do Not Miss experience. Congratulations SJCT, you’ve truly outdone yourselves.
Runs through June 2012
15, 16, 18, 21, 22, 23, 25, 26
BUY TICKETS at web site below