BWW review: CCC’s Les Miserables magnifique

By PATI BUEHLER

Broadwayworld.com

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On to the show! …. Like many, I have seen several versions of Les Miserables; from Broadway to National Touring productions, from high school to regional professional mountings such as the Walnut Street Theater and Surflight Theater’s offerings. Having never seen a primarily college-aged Les Miserables staging I was unsure as to what to expect. Bradshaw and her co-creators pulled in all the elements of a nothing short of a quality Broadway caliber Le Miz. First, the size of the cast. Most school productions employ as many young people that have the talent and desire to be part of their school’s musical. Cumberland County College’s Le Miz rounds up 46 students including a few “older” cast members to fill their huge stage with some of the most thrilling group numbers one can experience. “Master of the House”, “Do You Hear The People Sing” and “One Day More” truly raises the roof and has a heart pounding effect on this appreciative sold out crowd. Adding to the lush sound she enlists members of the Bay Area Symphony including a string and horn section that brings new life to Schonberg and Boublil’s score. Deborah has a loyal creative team that she has worked with for years and both Rosalind Metcalf (Musical Director) and Crissy Amico-Borowski (Choreographer) were on a plane from Florida to add their talents to the show and it definitely made this production soar. There is nothing held back in the staging department as this director not only opted for a revolving stage but also a respectable looking three piece barricade that allows the audience to view the fight scene and death scenes from an impressive prospective. Now on to the talent. There is not a weak member in this young principal cast. From the talented Cyrus Samsom (Jean Valjean) who’s appeared on TV’s Grey’s Anatomy and General Hospital to his arch rival (Javert) played by the very tall, robust Don Andrew, who’s “Stars” is one among the best sung I’ve heard on any professional stage. Steven Calakos (Maruis) has numerous local stage credits as well as TV/Film credits such as NBC’s Grease special, Transformers 2, The Bounty Hunter and Revenge of the Fallen. South Jersey native and Perry Award winner AJ Mendini plays Enjolras with great enthusiasm leading his young Revolutionary students. The leading ladies have an equal share of talent. Nicole Corigliano delivers a heart wrenching “I Dreamed a Dream” as she plays the vulnerable Fantine as well as any I’ve seen. Alicia Mackall’ is spot on as the street smart Eponine and makes “On My Own” her own, beautifully. Making her debut in this production, Rachel Burghen is vocally outstanding as Cosette. Too often the docile daughter of Valjean sings her solos thinly and shrilly. Not so with Burghen. Her full throttled “In My Life” and “A Heart Full of Love” are sweetly yet powerfully sung with an enviable clarity. Rounding out the cast are the robust Thenardiers ;Kevin Kolva and Anne Buckwheat as Mdme. Both are played as grisly scondrels with a devilish bit of humor that never milks the laughs but cleverly earns them. The entire ensemble is tuned in and on board with every emotion and never misses their mark in this most enthusiastic cast, evidence of Bradshaw’s keen sense of detail to her direction and experience as an original cast member. Les Miserables played to a sold out crowd on Nov. 21,22,23,24 at the Frank Guaracini, Jr. Fine Performing Arts Center at Cumberland Count College, Vineland, NJ . For more information about future events visit http://www.cccnj.edu/fpac or call 856.692.8499

Photo courtesy of Deborah Bradshaw

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