Hats off to Schaumburg on Stage for presenting a memorable production of Les Misérables. It was a really enjoyable show with wonderful sets and costumes, not to mention one of the best prepared and impressive ensembles I have ever seen. (Kudos to Bel Canto students and alums Sophie Farmer, Ella Goluba, Kailey Jeffs, and Jessica Shimp!) Sound suffered a few glitches the night I saw it, but it was dependable for most of the show. SOS is one of the few community theatre groups to double cast young talent in major roles, giving up-and-coming performers a chance to build their resumés and gain valuable experience.
All the female leads were spot-on; strong, capable, very much in command of their roles. They not only nailed their singing, the acting was to die for. Here’s my take on what they did:
- Fantine/Alexa Williams: Nice balance between technique and the dramatic, beautiful contrast, crafted “I Dreamed a Dream” well, fabulous actress. Once in a while her delivery was a little forced or over the top.
- Young Cosette/Jadynn Punchak: Did an admirable job vocally, in spite of some nerves. Charming young voice, sweet sound, consistently on top of the breath.
- Madame Thénadier/Ashley Rodriguez: Oh my gosh – what a feel for her part. Her vocals could not have been better. Her comedic timing was impecable throughout the entire show. She’s got this kind of role figured out! Phenomenal.
- Eponine/Kaitlin Tenbrunsel: Beautiful, lyric line for her iconic song, “On My Own.” Kaitlin was comfortable on stage and connected emotionally with her character. Nice, well supported highs during her death scene. So proud of this young lady!
- Cosette/Gia Daubenmire: Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Hard to believe that this young soprano has never had a voice lesson! (I happened to run into her after the show.) She comes across as well trained – clear diction, soaring vocal lines, full/rich tone on her very high and difficult duet with Marius, “A Heart Full of Love.” Enchanting by anyone’s standard.
Many of the men showed a lot of promise, particularly Collin Bradley in the role of Marius. His acting was respectable, but his voice was what captured your attention. The young man can really sing. He consistenly demonstrated his ability to lift a phrase and sing with natural vibrato. He’s considering a career in ballet or music composition, but it’s hard to imagine him not pursuing musical theatre! What a gifted performer. Sooo easy to listen to. Beautifully blended duet with Cosette.
- Inspector Javert/Max Zumpano: His acting was very believable. His singing surprisingly consistent throughout his entire range. On longer notes he did tend to lose focus, sometimes edging toward the bottom of tbe pitch. Overall, a really compelling performance.
- Bishop of Digne/Logan Franklin: I tbought his singing was free and easy. He was easy yo understand; his diction stellar. As he matures vocally, he should be able to develop a natural vibrato. The role didn’t allow for much acting.
- Enjolras/Josiah Turner: This kid’s got a voice – he’s only in 8th grade! He was powerful and convincing. He just needs more focus to his tone which will come as he matures. It was easy to tell how much he loves to sing and be on stage.
- Gavoche/Alexander Garcia: This little guy was really impressive! He sang well and certainly held his own with the big kids. His death scene was incredibly convincing! It’s not every day you see a ten year old boy pull off a role the way Alexander did.
- Thénadier/Michael Tarchala: This guy performed with appropriate flare! He played off his madame beautifully. His singing was fairly pitchy, but should improve with more experience.
- Jean Valjean/Payton Kaye: Payton’s acting was some of the best on stage. He was absolutely electric. His singing was very strong (though woefully sharp). The young man could be a powerhouse if his voice were grounded. I’d love to hear him again when he’s able to accomplish that.
I can see why SOS has built such a faithful community following. I will undoubtedly keep sending my best singers to their auditions!
~ Respectfully submitted, Jeanie Carter