Les Misérables at The Macrobert

This year’s school musical, Les Misérables (school edition), was performed at the Macrobert Arts Centre last week, every night from Wednesday 20 June- Friday 23 June (with an additional matinee performance on Friday).

The entire cast, orchestra and crew received standing ovations after each performance, and these were certainly deserved. This very ambitious musical offered a tremendous demonstration of the talents of those involved—from the near-professional talents of those singing the lead parts and the huge energy and power of the chorus, to the skilled work of the make-up and costume crew, the technical sound and lighting team, the stage management going on behind the scenes.

Les Mis is a sung-through musical based on the novel by Victor Hugo. Music is by Claude-Michel Shonberg and the original French-language lyrics were by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natal. The licensed schools’ version is only about thirty minutes less than the original, making it a tremendously ambitious show for a school to produce. It is, as Jackie Smith’s programme notes identified, ‘an enormous undertaking… It’s not just the sheer volume of material to get through…[it’s the] complexity of the narrative and the action, and the vocal demands it places upon young actors and singers, are considerable.’ There were, as anticipated, ‘goosebumps and tears’ aplenty throughout the five performances.

As Mr Christie (Producer and Musical Director) commented, ‘We could have chosen an easier musical, but the harder more complicated the work the more the pupils raise their game and take the challenge in their stride.’

The story follows transformed criminal, Jean Valjean (Ruairidh Brown) and his arch-enemy Javert (Huw Sherrard) through the years of the French Revolution, narrating the love story of Cosette (Hayley Smith and Nadia Smith) and Marius (Elliot Crombie) as they struggle through the many social and political events of 18th France. Other lead parts were played, most wonderfully, by Olivia McKay (Eponine); Hannah Gilmour (Fantine) and no article about this show would be complete without mention of Mme and M T (so memorably brought to life by Sophie Chandler and Fraser Dawtrey). Chloe Burbury shone as Little Eponine and Aly Williams, of course, was a most talented Gavroche as was Aidan Humphrey as Enjolras and Alex Mair as the Bishop. It was a sophisticated production, testing every participant to stretch themselves, their talents and their energies, to the utmost—a great success.

And those involved in helping coach the pupils over the past several weeks of rehearsal and practice must be mentioned, too: Sarah Houghton (Prep School teacher) did a splendid job of choreographing the show, Mrs Mackie led the make-up team, Mrs Macfadyean and Mrs Webster helped with overall stage management. Tremendous thanks go, above all, to Mr Davie Christie who was Producer/Musical Director and to Jackie Smith, who was the Director of the show. Their inspired guidance certainly helped make this the very successful spectacle that it was.


Photo courtesy of Jacob Timney