Naugatuck Patch Review of Les Mis!

Naugatuck Patch Review of Les Mis!
'Les Miz' lovers won't want to miss hearing the people sing in this outstanding production in Thomaston.

I had the good fortune of snagging a complimentary seat for a performance of Landmark Community Theatre's Les Misérables on the second weekend of their run at the Thomaston Opera House. While on vacation during their opening performances, I had heard the buzz that the production was outstanding and well-attended. So if one subscribes to the "better late than never" theory, here is my tardy review.

When Landmark was posting audition notices, the show was billed simply as "Broadway's Most Beloved Musical" because they were still waiting on the rights to produce it. I played along in my blog postings until the title of the show was officially announced, but I must admit that I do not concur with that ranking. I am not entirely sure why it is not one of my all-time favorites. I certainly love the music in the show (and have memorized most of it) and this production marks the third time I have seen the show. I appreciate how difficult a musical it is to bring to the stage. Perhaps the themes are just a bit too depressing, or maybe I don't understand what motivates some of the "miserable" characters. I have yet to see the recent movie version for the same reasons I suppose. It is a very good show, just not one of my personal favorites.

Be that as it may, I was very impressed with everything about this production directed by Foster Evans Reese, who dedicates the show to his parents and to "everyone who has raised a child, watched over them and attempted to give them a good life as Jean ValJean did for Cossette." Mr. Reese, who also did the choreography, had a strong vision of what the production  would look like and it shows. I appreciated that he played up the humorous bits of the script. The staging upon the revolving part of the stage was especially precise; the set was designed by Keith Winegar and I have never seen such a stage that worked better. The required barricade appeared and more importantly was efficiently removed by the running crew led by Stage Manager Eric Wilczak.

The outstanding Dan Ringuette directed the good-sized orchestra, and his image on a monitor for the actors was the only visible sign that they existed. Hidden someplace backstage, the musicians sounded entirely professional as they played the beautiful score. The musical director also ensured that each and every vocal performance was flawless.

Special mention goes to Dan Checovetes for his beautifully haunting lighting design that added so much to the visual elements of the show. Many of the scenes were backlit in a way that is difficult to describe but I loved it. The muted colors of the majority of the costumes designed by Barbara Piscopo and her crew worked well, allowing the red armbands of the students to stand out.

When I heard the names of some of the well-known actors (of the 200  that had auditioned) who had made it into the ensemble, I was taken aback. "Who could possibly be better than these talented folks who had snared the lead roles?" I thought to myself. Well, I quickly realized that all of the leads were outstanding singers and actors, although many of them were unfamiliar names to me.


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