Oct. 26--The Eau Claire Children's Theatre knew it had its hands full when it decided to take on the epic musical "Les Miserables" at the State Theatre. But despite all the challenges, the production turned out to be quite satisfying to viewers.
The entire musical is done in song -- there are little to no spoken words throughout the 2 1/2 hour show -- so the first obstacle the Children's Theatre had was to fill the cast with quality voices. The female vocals were outstanding throughout the production, and several of the male leads also lived up to the challenge.
Becky Santine, who plays Fantine, captivated the audience with her beautiful rendition of the iconic song "I Dreamed a Dream." She stole the show with her solo and set the bar high for the rest of the performers.
Angela Batterman, who plays Eponine, also had a lovely solo with her version of "On My Own" to open Act 2.
Of the men, Adam Krajnikconde's (Enjolras) vocals stood out, although the men had a tough time competing with the strong, beautiful female vocals in this production.
Because there are no scene breaks, the set crew -- led by scenic coordinator Mike Kolstad -- did a fantastic job of quickly moving props around and taking advantage of a projection screen -- run by Chris Niles -- to set the scenes for the audience. It made it obvious that the location of the events had changed without having to clear the actors entirely from the stage.
The lighting also was crucial to help make this version of "Les Miserables" more epic, as it is known to be. The lighting was coordinated by Mike Jonas, and he did a great job of using spotlights to create shadows and different auras throughout the show. The closing number in Act 1, "One Day More," had a fantastic use of light to make the number all the more iconic -- the number, paired with the extraordinary lighting, had audience members cheering wildly before the song was complete.
The only true downfall in the Children Theatre's production of "Les Miserables" was that the actors didn't always enunciate their words clearly, which made it tough to understand some phrases. Because the show is communicated in song, the slight lack of enunciation made it all the more difficult to pick up on what exactly was being said.
All in all, the Children's Theatre did a great job tackling such a big production. Director Wayne Marek and the actors accurately depicted the hardships the characters are going through in the midst of a revolution. Although it is longer than most productions, "Les Miserables" is worth taking the time to see.
Syrstad can be reached at 715-833-9206, 800-236-7077 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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