Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Les Miserables Triumph for the Esk Community Choir

The Triumphant Cast of Les Miserables May 2nd 2015

Written by Susan Walker

Following 48 hours of torrential wind and rain which had been conspiring to thwart the plans of concert goers to the Esk Community Choir's long awaited 'Excerpts from Les Miserables - in Concert', the township of Esk awoke to a sun, high, bright and dancing off the mountain on Saturday 2nd May. Then in the evening as a capacity audience made its way to places around the sumptuously laid tables rendering the auditorium of the Somerset Civic Centre a replica of the times of an 1832 Paris, concert goers were left in no doubt of the spectacle that awaited them and were fuelled with a feeling of excited anticipation that not even Mother Nature could ever hope to dampen.

With a warm welcome by Choir/Performance Director, Alexis FitzGerald and her introduction of the Narrator Du Jour, Robert Biggs completed, the curtain was drawn and an excitement began to fill the stage with the dramatic opening number, ' At the End of the Day'; Choir members appeared, cast and costumed as Victor Hugo's colourful characters; the poor and oppressed, the prostitutes, criminals and street children of a nineteenth-century Parisian underworld. And so with many of the powerful songs written by Claude Michel Shonberg, Alain Boublil and Herbert Kretzmer, interwoven with Robert Biggs' eloquent delivery of the narration to the accompaniment of a small but highly accomplished 'orchestra', the masterful story of 'Les Misérable' began to unfold.

Nola Niemeyer, Sue Walker, Bob Hardy and Alan Hayward 

Katie FitzGerald as Cosette - Castle on a Cloud

Sue Walker brought to life with unreserved passion Fantine's statement song 'I Dreamed a Dream". The vibrant 'Lovely Ladies' delivered their messages in no uncertain musical terms to the trio of lustful lads played by Robert Hardy, Alan Hayward and Erci Von Nida. Ten year old Katie FitzGerald gave a simply sublime performance of young Cosette's 'Castle on a Cloud' leaving the audience in no doubt of the talents of this little soaring star.

At the Inn with the Master of the House - Trevor, Leah, Claire, Ruth, Maree

The Master of the House - Tom Byrne

With a change of pace, the irrepressible 'Master of the House' Tom Byrne supported by Robyn Bagster as Madam Thenardiers spilled onto the stage along with the carousing Chorus.

Madam Thenadiers, Robyn Bagster

Andy Jones, Kathie Watts, Maree Lansdown and Claire Rawnsley

John Caffin, portraying the dogged policeman Javert, had many Goosebumps standing to attention with his stirring performance of 'Stars' and Carolyn and Lloyd King's beautifully sung duet 'Heart Full of Love' supported by the pure soprano tones of twelve year old Emily FitzGerald was a harmony of romance and hope expressed in song.

Eric Von Nida & Emily FitzGerald

The Choir's 'Do You Hear the People Sing' was the emotive plea from the angry 'insurgents' who, at flash-point, were crying out for a new tomorrow. It also heralded the hive of activity around tables as during the interval, an adoring audience were served more of their delicious supper.

Catherine Conn, Bob Hardy, Alan Hayward, Tom Byrne

John Caffin, Lloyd King, Trevor Madely, Phil Caffin

Lloyd King and Kathleen Watts - The death of Eponine

Emily FitzGerald's stunning performance of Eponine's musical soliloquy 'On My Own' belied her tender years and set the bar for the second half of the concert. One could not help but be moved by Eponine's tragic yet heroic demise portrayed with such pathos by Kathleen Watts and Lloyd King as they sang 'A Little Fall of Rain' and barely could there have been a dry eye left following Eric Von Nida's sensitive rendition of the Jean Valjean prayer to 'Bring Him Home'.

The languished sounds of the Men's Chorus highlighted by Matthew Lukritz's inspiring solos in 'Drink With Me' and 'Empty Chairs and Empty Tables' spoke passionately of sacrifice and loss. Then the final trio of Kathleen Watts, Robert Hardy and Nola Niemeyer, evoking in harmony the final wishes of the now departed Fantine, Jean Valjean and Eponine, was a fitting overture to the climactic soul-stirring sounds of the final anthem by the entire company of singers with 'Do You Hear the People Sing'...a song and a performance in its entirety which brought the audience to its feet in rousing acclamation.
Behind the success of any production lays the combined efforts of many and if blessings are to be counted, much credit must go to the considerable input by those both of and out of the Choir. However, it would be remiss of this writer to not acknowledge the generosity of the Toogoolawah Golf Club, Nash Gallery and Cafe and Boutique meats for their sponsorship. How fortunate is this Choir to have the support of these who are selfless in their constant readiness to further the successes of the Esk Community Choir's endeavours.

Matthew Lukritz

Gail Webster and Nola Niemeyer

Lloyd and Caroline King

Loyal Patrons of the Choir Concert - Rose and Geoff Mercer and Pam Green

The Crichtons

Nola, Catherine, Bob

The Townsfolk - Lynette, Iris, Sue C, Christine, Suzanne
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