Les Miserables a huge hit
THERE'S no doubt that Rockhampton musical theatre buffs will be raving about this weekend's production of Les Miserables for years to come.
The French backdrops, elaborate props, lighting and sound effects are so emotive and powerful that they become a character of their own.
There is the sound of horse hooves trotting in succession, the brash cries of men roaring orders, the scores of horns, the fanfare of trumpets and throbbing drums that puncture the darkness throughout the restless theatre.
Amongst the battered slaves rowing tirelessly, and the policemen whipping their backs, you are transported to 19th century France, and throughout the three-hour odyssey, become part of the remarkable Jean Valjean's world.
Brad Villiers, is an absolute knock-out as Jean Valjean.
The four-time Les Misérables actor has found his niche in the conflicted, soured, and most importantly, redemptive tale of the moralistic and unshakable Valjean.
His anger, injustice, bitterness, and defiance throughout his turmoil captivates the audience.
With such devastating emotion in his captivating voice, you wait for it to break, but he holds his resolve.
Every eye in the theatre falls upon Mr Villiers, even as he subtly moves on stage in the shadows, not making a sound.
Just his presence alone captivates, and the humility and strength behind his redemption garners the respect from everyone in the theatre.
Lachlan Scheuber's Javert's determination, rigidity, and feverish pursuit of Valjean matches Mr Villiers in his strong stage presence.
His beautiful range, and jaw-dropping high notes leave even the most reluctant theatre attendee in rapture.
A personal favourite was the deliciously wicked pairing of Michael Robertson and Janette McLennan as Monsieur and Madame Thenardier, the morally corrupt innkeepers.
A refreshing, comic relief in such a heavy, emotional piece, you can't help but sit up in your seat when the pair slink onto the stage, bright and larger than life.
The antagonistic puppet masters are strong, spirited, fearless and intoxicating as they toy with their cast mates through delightful ripping and debauchery, and dance around the stage with impish frivolity as if they own it, and they do.
Claire Janes' Fantine is a brief yet shining light that radiates through the bleakness of her character's circumstances.
As she literally falls into her rendition of "I dreamed a dream" there is a collective chill throughout the audience.
Through feverish desperation, fragility and devastating emotion in her voice, Ms Janes stuns her audience.
The character of Cosette, played by young Tayah Ellis and Holly Forsythe, and Catherine Schwarten is something out of a fairy-tale.
The Cosette actresses are epitomes of hope and purity throughout the trials of their character, and you can't help but liken the wistful grace and romantic nature of the portrayal to that of a Disney princess.
Alongside Ms Janes is the charming and romantic portrayal of the idealistic and romantic Marius played by Jacob Goves.
Mr Goves breathes life into a character whose determination matches that of his co-star, Mr Villiers.
Alongside Mr Villiers, the leading star of the night was the talented Trinity March-Hoolihan.
The audience roared as she took her bow, and her stunning portrayal of Eponine was nothing short of perfection.
Characters like the Bishop, played by the humble, moving and gracious Darryl Strelow, and Gavroche, played by the affable and charming Nick Smith and Tom Wakeman, are small acts that have the potential to steal the show.
When the revolutionary group, Les Amis de l'Abc, bands together, led by the charismatic Enjolras, played by Matthew Dennis, the energy in the theatre is electric.
The group's passionate renditions of songs like "ABC Café" are the heart and soul of the production, and the actors never falter in their infectious rectitude.
"Master of the house" was one of the best performances of the night, alongside the tear-jerking and inspirational rendition of "One more day”.
The tale spans years, and walking out of the theatre, you can't help but feel the same weariness as if you had lived all those years alongside Valjean.
It's a performance not to be missed.
Once you have seen it, it will stay with you, and you will find yourself humming "Do you hear the people sing?" as you struggle to shake off the heavy, redemptive masterpiece's hold over your heart.