Arts & Entertainment

Disciplined Cast Excels In Mason’s ‘Les Misérables’

lesmis039Illuminated figures of townspeople approaching from the dark crescendo their song of hopelessness as they work against their own will by a corrupt government as presented by George Mason High School’s Les Misérables.

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STUDENTS ON THE BARRICADES was a dramatic scene in ‘Les Miserables,’ with Sam Waters playing Jean Valjean at the far left. (Photo: News-Press)

Illuminated figures of townspeople approaching from the dark crescendo their song of hopelessness as they work against their own will by a corrupt government as presented by George Mason High School’s Les Misérables.

Written first as a novel by Victor Hugo in 1862, Les Misérables portrayed the difficult lives of the poor people of France in the early 1800s and the social uprisings that formed as a result. The poor worked in harsh conditions filled with poverty and much suffering forcing each character to make hard decisions. Characters such as Jean Valjean, are forced to break a window to steal bread for his family and despite being given a second chance as Mayor of a small town, his problems do not end. Thanks to a visit from his Parole officer, Javert, he becomes involved with having to make more difficult decisions which question whether he can escape his past and present mistakes.

What stood out most with George Mason’s production was the discipline and focus of the ensemble. With nearly 60 cast members harmonizing and staying in character for the duration of the musical, especially towards the finale, the imbalances of some voices when sung individually were out shined by their ability to flow within the ensemble pieces. All of their voices, whether high, low, soft, and loud, managed to connect harmoniously into one powerful song that grabbed the attention towards the whole ensemble. Several of the cast member’s voices were very natural to the character.

Not only did each character put effort into staying in character as well as sing, some performers achieved bringing the most emotion into their characters. It was through their facial expressions that made their sadness and despair believable. In Javert’s suicide song and Eponine’s song of affirmation that she will never be loved by Marius, created a real sympathetic appeal through the intensity in their eyes and a strain in their face. The sympathetic appeal of their facial expressions was what created an emotional connection towards these characters.

To appeal to the dramatic elements of the production, the dimming and brightening of the lighting fit best. Though there were some minor malfunctions with the brightening of spotlights, it did nothing to affect the creativity it took to dramatize the dark, melancholy songs of lost soldiers in battle, of love, and suicide. For props, some may argue that the guns were made unrealistically but the idea that so many were made for nearly 60 cast members is impressive and makes the act more professional.

It was their constant discipline and focus that made their production more than an ordinary High School production. To get 60 high school students to harmonize while singing individual song pieces within the ensemble without sounding too choppy is difficult and the fact that they made it look so easy showed how much effort was put into creating a successful show.

 

 


Tionge Johnson is a member of The Critics and Award Program, Cappies, and a student at Dominion High School.