By David Steinberg
The Albuquerque Little Theatre isn’t “little” any more. ALT may be small in terms of its physical dimensions but its current production of the musical “Les Miserables” showed that ALT has matured as a presenter of theater.
The cast delivered a rousing, captivating performance on opening night (May 23) and the audience gave it a well-deserved standing ovation.
There are many impressive performers in the cast. The dominant male actor/singers are Kevin Richard Fannin as ex-convict Jean Valjean and Paul Bower as the guard/inspector Javert. These two characters form the musical’s underlying story. After 19 years as a prisoner (he was convicted of stealing a loaf of bread), Valjean is released but he breaks parole.
Javert promises to hunt him down, even though he learns that Valjean has become a wealthy factory owner and a town mayor.
Valjean is more than a solid citizen. He reveals his big, merciful heart. He tells the dying single mother Fantine that he will raise her daughter Cosette. He fills that promise, and then some. In the streets of Paris, Valjean rescues the badly injured Marius during a failed student-led uprising. Marius happens to be madly in love with Cosette.
Valjean’s mercy even extends to Javert. When Javert betrays the uprising, he is given to the custody of Valjean, who gives Javert his freedom.
Shaena Crespo (Fantine), Kristen Ryan (Eponine), Jon Gallegos (Marius) and Karliz De Marco (Cosette) demonstrate well-honed acting and singing skills. Memorable are Crespo singing “I Dreamed a Dream,” and Cosette, Marius and Eponine singing “A Heart Full of Love.”
Stephen L. Balling as Thenardier and Vanessa Sanchez as Madame Thenardier are masters of fusing physical comedy and vocals. The husband-and-wife characters are thieving, corrupt tavern owners. Their thievery and corruption come out in the boisterous song “Master of the House.” Valjean must pay an exorbitant price to extract the young Cosette from their grip. Thenardier returns in a scene essential to the story’s development.
Sasha Brigman as the young Cosette serves up the sweet, sad song “Castle on a Cloud.”
Speaking of little people, Jackson Murrieta is Gavroche, a feisty, fearless defender of the uprising who belts out “Little People.”
Among other performers in the ensemble deserving mention are Curtis Goodman as the forgiving Bishop, Danny McBride as Enjolras, the leader of the uprising and Marcus Robinson as Courfeyrac, a student.
A remarkable creative team stitched together this enormous undertaking.
Team members include Henry Avery as the director, Lina Ramos the music director, Jessica Quindlen the choreographer-assistant director, Joe Moncada and Rosemary Castro-Gallegos the costume designers, Colby Martin Landers the scenic designer and Ryan Jason Cook the lighting and sound designer.
The uplifting, award-winning musical, which debuted in London in 1985, is based on Victor Hugo’s epic 1862 novel.
Performances continue May 30-June 1, June 6-8 and June 13-15. There is an extra performance at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 5.
Tickets for “Les Mis” are available at the ALT box office, by calling 242-4750 ext. 2 or at the website http://www.albuquerquelittletheatre.org
ALT is located at 224 San Pasquale SW.