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The show will go on

PUBLISHED: 12:56 17 July 2008 | UPDATED: 17:24 16 August 2010

LES MIS: Lavish production.

LES MIS: Lavish production.

WHEN West Wickham Operatic Society were told that their production of Les Miserables couldn t take place at Bromley s Churchill Theatre as planned, they were forced to make some critical decisions, writes Mark Campbell.

WHEN West Wickham Operatic Society were told that their production of Les Miserables couldn't take place at Bromley's Churchill Theatre as planned, they were forced to make some critical decisions, writes Mark Campbell.

With just two months' notice, the group had to find a venue large enough to house the 70+ cast, a 22-piece orchestra and an anticipated audience of 600 per night.

No such venue being forthcoming, they built their own!

Christened The Courtyard Theatre, a marquee tent was constructed in the grounds of Langley Park School for Girls in Beckenham, large enough to hold everyone involved.

But despite all the panic and hardship behind the scenes, this special student version of Les Miserables proved to be just as enjoyable as it would have been in a 'proper' theatre.

Which is appropriate, considering the subject matter - a people "driven to the utmost limits of their resources".

Victor Hugo's famous novel was adapted by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg in 1980 with English lyrics by Herbery Kretzmer.

All the performers come from the two Langley Park Schools, and Ravens Wood School in Bromley.

It was immediately obvious how confident they all were on stage, which is impressive considering the highly complex nature of some of the music. This, after all, is a show without a single line of dialogue.

Of especial note were the strong vocals from Johnny Muir, Jarad Fortune and Amy Hunter.

Tom Williams, as the hero Valjean, came into his own with a moving rendition of 'Bring Him Home', demonstrating his clear tenor voice.

11-year-old Patrick Harty was wonderfully funny as the cheeky street urchin Gavroche (shades of Oliver Twist), making his death scene all the more poignant.

Directed by Kevin Gauntlett with musical direction by John Hargreaves, the show revelled in its big setpiece scenes, such as storming the barricades and the wedding finalé, and the enthusiasm of cast and crew could not have been faulted.

Only a slight problem with acoustics (from where I sat, the orchestra drowned out some of the singers) spoilt what was otherwise an excellent show and a remarkable success for all concerned.


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