For this year’s Homecoming musical, ACU’s Theatre department offers their own take on the global phenomenon, “Les Misérables”. This musical has been moving audiences for over 30 years with its story of redemption, forgiveness and justice. ACU jumped on the chance to perform it as soon as the rights became available.
Anchored by vocal powerhouses Jace Reinhard (Jean Valjean) and Jacob Alexander (Javert), the show, as with most ACU theatre productions, is of a professional caliber. Reinhard is the glue that holds the show together. His angelic voice never wavers and he becomes completely lost in the character he portrays. Alexander balances Reinhard’s angelic presence with a commanding presence and physical confidence.
Young Gavroche, played by Jackson Riley, is a highlight of the show, bringing childlike innocence to the heavy subject matter. Amanda Jarufe, playing Eponine, is a piece of perfect casting, bringing authentic angst and a beautiful voice to a part that can easily become stale.
The ensemble is a huge part of “Les Misérables” and ACU students do not fail to deliver. They fill the stage with the streets of France. There is never a moment when they are out of character. In a musical about social justice, they represent the pits of society and make the famous line, “it is the music of a people who are climbing to the light,” believable.
The set is a character in and of itself, expanding the stage and truly transforming it into 18th Century France. The sheer size of the set allows plenty of room for the performers to explore the stage and yet is intimate enough to draw the audience in. Eerie lighting and period costumes add layers to an already powerful performance.
Those who are familiar with the cinematic version of “Les Misérables” will not be disappointed with the musical adaptation. The musical is an enhancement upon the work done in the movie. It provides a more focused telling of the story and hearing the songs live is infinitely more powerful than hearing them on screen.
“Les Misérables” is an inherently spiritual musical and ACU’s production makes this connection in a fresh approach, inviting the audience to experience God in a new way.
Performances of “Les Misérables” run this weekend, Oct. 18-19 at 8:30 p.m. and Oct. 20 at 2 p.m. All performances are at the Abilene Civic Center.
Click here to view more photos of “Les Misérables.”