Ridge Report Writing and Photography Contest

This year, you can submit a short story, poetry piece, and/or photography connecting to one of three possible themes. Your options are "Hush", "Bang", and "Click". Be as creative as you want!

Entries will be accepted starting Monday May 1st 2017

The deadline for entering is Friday May 20th 2017

First place winners in each category (short story, photography, and poetry) will have their entry published on the Ridge Report website and will be awarded a prize.

Click on each category to submit and know about the rules and requirements.

Short Story

Monday, December 16, 2013

Raising the Curtain on Les Misérables

This Holiday season, on it’s 50th anniversary, Mirvish theatre brings Toronto Les Misérables. Victor Hugo’s epic novel is brought to life on stage in a vivid explosion of song. The Princess of Wales theatre hosts the odyssey of Jean Valjean as he and those around him navigate through misfortune and misery in France during the 1700’s. The play includes a series of ethical dilemmas that contribute to its emotional complexity and intrigue. The story begins in 1815 with a glimpse at Valjean’s life in chains under Officer Javert. Followed by his attempt at integration into a prejudiced society. After one act of profound kindness Valjean is inspired to start his life anew and transforms from convict to gentleman by breaking parole. We are reunited with Valjean years later in his new life as “Monsieur Madeleine”; Mayor and factory owner. In his factory we meet Fantine, a single mother, and experience her descent to despair. Despite discovery of his true identity by Javert, Valjean promises to save Fantine’s child Cossette, who is lodging with the humorously sinister Thénadiers. We recap with Valjean and Cossette – now a woman- in Paris where we are instantly swept up in the early stages of revolution and the love story of Cossette and Marius. Instantly the story takes a turn for the worse when Jean and Cossette are forced to leave Paris to hide from returning rivals. Despite this the battle on the barricades still goes on, with Valjean among the schoolboys intent on saving his daughter’s only love. After many heart wrenching fatalities and the eventual fate of our two lovers, the production ends on a brilliant note of bittersweet hope. 

Immediately we are fixated in the world of France in the 1700’s by the scenery - complex and aesthetically interesting structures that move seamlessly throughout the scenes and envelop the characters in a beautiful display reflecting the essence of the setting. The costumes characterize the actors while communicating status, and of course the omnipresent theme of the time period and place. Special effects such as strobe lights and projections were used to create the more difficult settings, and were used in a way that astounded the audience. Props were used artfully and properly with thoughtfulness from both actor and stage director.

In all aspects the performance provided by the cast was stellar. Raw emotion was evident in their beautiful solos, and the echo of the time resonated in the chorus. Ramin Karimloo plays Jean Valjean and carries the audience seamlessly through the life of Jean Valjean with strong vocal and physical expression. Genevieve Leclerc plays Fantine, and shakes us with her supreme rendition of “I dreamed a dream”. The young Ella Ballantine sings an angelic version of “Castle on a Cloud” as young Cossette.  Lisa Horner and Cliff Saunders lighten the mood with “Master of the House” as Mr. and Mrs. Thénadier. “A heart full of love” is sung by Samantha Hill and Perry Sherman as lovebirds Cossette and Marius. The passion of the song was only rivaled by Melissa O’Neil’s dramatic performance of “On my own” as Éponine.

The music of les Misérables is the gleaming capstone of the production. The orchestra was divine, and performed with as much gusto and energy as the actors. The conductor and musical director James Dodgeson timed each song perfectly to the occurrences on the stage above. The lyrics bore the most weight, as they are the sole method of linguistic communication in the play. The melody set the mood and the lyrics voiced emotion in a haunting and thrilling specimen of auditory storytelling.  My favorite song, by far, was ‘The People’s Song” sung by the chorus of Frenchmen to rally the people to the barricades and fantasizing of a better tomorrow, appealing to the dreamer, hero, and human in all of us. 

Directors, Laurence Connor and James Powell have wielded all the elements of musical theatre and stage performance to their advantage fostering a unique experience of les Misérables.
The storyline in it’s entirety is very dark but the glimpses of hope, perseverance, and human kindness make it truly a tale for the ages. 

                                                                                                 By: Alessia Collia 

1 comment:

  1. Very well written and analytical breakdown of Les Miserebles