AVPA ‘Les Miz’ Soars on Social Justice and Vocal Power

The opening night of the Academy of Visual and Performing Arts’ production of “Les Miserables” showcased the best student talent in one of the most popular shows in the history of musical theater. To be fair, Les Miz is more of an opera than a musical, but all the more reason to be impressed with the vocal strength and gorgeous tonal quality by so many of the performers. 

Based on the novel by Victor Hugo, the setting of 19th Century France resonated with the old French proverb; the more things change, the more they stay the same. The themes of class struggle, incarceration, poverty and the longing for justice don’t feel at all distant or quaint. The production grabs the past by both lapels and brings it into the moment.  

“This is, and has always been, absolutely one of my favorite musicals for many reasons,” said Director Lee Hanson, offered in the Centaurian, “It has some of the best music in musical theatre. The message of this musical is [so very ] relevant  – it has always been and continues to be today. I also knew that this was going to be a challenge and I felt that I had the actors who would rise to that challenge.”

Hanson has every reason to be proud of her entire cast. Almost 30 characters – some roles are double cast- keep the action moving from intimate duets to anthemic crowd scenes. Timmy Francuz carries the central character of Jean Valjean with a posture of pride and a two octave range, and Ryan Vermette as his nemesis Inspector Javert offers multiple melodies with intensity. Trinity Fuller’s Fantine is an ethereal soprano, and Lux Amaya’s Eponine’s soaring range conveyed both hope and heartbreak. The entire ensemble comes together like a perfectly assembled puzzle, each piece as vital and essential as the next. 

With the elegant support of the AVPA Orchestra, the show lives up to its reputation as a powerhouse. It’s a daunting show for students to take on, and that makes the creativity all the more satisfying. After winning eight Tony Awards, it went on to be the 6th longest running show in Broadway history. A challenge? Yes. A triumph? Absolutely. 

Get tickets at avpa.org, or a the box office 

 March 2-5; March 9-12. Evening curtain at 7pm. Sunday matinee curtain at 2pm. 

At the Robert Frost Auditorium

Judith Martin-Straw

The Actors' Gang

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