“Les Misérables” is bound to be the show you’ll see a lot of this season. The rights have recently become available for community theaters, and in our area, community theaters are taking full advantage of this fact. There are three productions of the show going up in the next few months alone — a solid choice for theaters, as the name recognition alone tends to sell tickets.
Unfortunately, it’s not an easy show to produce, and produce well, and theaters need to keep this in mind when choosing it.
Cohoes Music Hall’s production of the show isn’t without merit; it’s a solid production, overall, with beautiful costuming and sets. The sound quality and music are good. The acting and direction, however, weren’t consistent, and the technical aspects needed tweaking.
Austin Riley Green as Jean Valjean was a good actor, and some of his songs were strong. However, the role is quite demanding, and he often didn’t seem up to the task. He was strongest in his scenes opposite Jim Charles’ Javert and Amara Haaksman’s Cosette.
WHERE: Cohoes Music Hall, 58 Remsen Street, Cohoes
WHEN: Through October 13
HOW MUCH: $25-$35
MORE INFO: 237-5858, www.cohoesmusichall.com
Charles is strong throughout; he was one of the actors onstage with the best grasp of his character (and he directed the show, as well, which is an admirable task; handling both roles must have been quite demanding.)
Brittany Simmons as Fantine had a beautiful voice; however, her acting left much to be desired. She never truly seemed to be emotionally invested in her scenes. Cara O’Brien as Eponine was very watchable; her “On My Own” was one of the highlights of the production.
Firmly stealing the show from the Thenardiers (Bill Douglas and Andrea Christensen) — which is not an easy task, as they are the comic relief in a very heavy show — Sofia Rose Trimarchi was a joy to watch as young Cosette. I will not at all be surprised to see her gracing our area stages in the years to come.
As for direction, the show was often muddled. It’s not a large stage, but it is a large cast, and it’s hard to cram all of those people on it without it becoming nothing more than a crowd scene with no choreography, with actors often bumping into one another awkwardly.
The ensemble pieces often did not come together well; they were less melodious than jangly and shouty, and the choreography was not crisp as it needs to be.
Production-wise, there are some problems that need to be ironed out. The follow spot was not well-aimed and often meandered around the stage for quite some time before it hit the intended target, leaving the person singing a solo in darkness.
The people backstage were clearly visible to the audience, which became very distracting during serious scenes. It was hard to pay attention when there was a constant stream of actors walking by that a simple piece of masking could have stopped us from seeing.
Despite the problems, the show still gives you that familiar thrill when the songs you know and love appear; it’s still, at times, beautiful to watch. I just feel that maybe it needed a few more weeks of rehearsal to get things smooth enough for the audience to lose themselves in the story and the music without being distracted by the various issues plaguing the production.