Review: Grim, gritty, yet full of energy and emotion

The cast of Hippodrome Youth Theatre's production of Les Miserables
The cast of Hippodrome Youth Theatre's production of Les Miserables

Les Mis is really the last Broadway musical you’d expect someone to adapt for children to perform.

The Hippodrome Youth Theatre took on an enormous challenge and from the start of this production it was youth theatre at its finest, writes Claire Mortimer.

As grim and gritty as any adult presentation, this adaptation loses nothing in using children to tell the tale. In fact, the youth may deliver a stronger emotional punch because of their energy and spirit.

Max Anderson’s presence as the lead character, Jean Valjean, captured the essence of this beautiful musical: forgiveness, love, sacrifice.

As he aged before our eyes, this young man brought a performance that I wouldn’t have thought possible from someone of his age.

Tom Howard as Javert makes you hate him and then feel sorry for him, as only a truly fine actor can, and owns the stage. His suicide scene was chilling.

“I Dreamed A Dream” was beautifully sung by Jessica Clarkson; the maturity and depth of her voice was truly moving. When Fantine turns to prostitution to save her daughter, her anguished cry, “Don’t they know they’re making love to one already dead?” conveys every bit of her shame.

From the powerful vocals and acting of Eponine (Rosie Crowther), the grotesque yet hilarious interpretation of Madame and Monsieur Thenardier (Elizabeth Sutcliffe and Paul Robinson), to the velvet voice of Marius (Tom Heys) and the soothing voice and chemistry of Cosette (Madeline Jefferson), this was a musical production I will never forget.

I fear if I don’t mention everyone that Javert will have me clapped in irons and thrown in jail - but every performance was spectacular.

Director Martin Cook and all the members of the youth theatre should be incredibly proud of what has been achieved.

The impressive and inventive set design would be the envy of any professional show. I cannot believe that all of the amazing costumes were designed and made by the team at the Hippodrome and not hired.

Musical director Helen Clarkson’s marvellous orchestra performed the difficult score as beautifully as the cast sang it.

I was blown away by what I saw on stage at the Hippodrome and I believe “Stars, in their multitudes,” are what this show has in abundance. It runs until Saturday.