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Toby’s Dinner Theatre Les Miserables

By • Aug 12th, 2013 • Category: Maryland, Reviews
Les Miserables
Toby’s Dinner Theatre: (Info) (Web)
Toby’s Dinner Theatre, Columbia, MD
Through November 10th
3:00, with one intermission
$49-54/$36 Children (Plus fees)
Reviewed August 10th, 2013

In a recent interview a local writer asked Toby Orenstein about her casting process and the fact that she seems to cast a majority of the same actors for her productions. Toby replied by saying that her performers are some of the best around, but her doors are always open for new comers, however in order to make it in the door you have to be better than the best. And that is undoubtedly clear and evident in the Columbia’s staple and longest existing dinner theatre’s production of the 1987 Tony Award winning musical Les Miserables.

Based on the iconic novel by French novelist Victor Hugo, Les Miserables, which at one point was the longest running musical on Broadway, can be described in many ways. Les Miserables is set in the background of the French revolution and tells the story of one man’s journey over almost 30 years of his life, his trials and tribulations, his pain, suffering and joy. But ultimately Les Miserables is about REDEMPTION. The relationship between God and man. The ultimate Faith that one can put in the Lord God and serve, follow and obey through life and till death. Experiencing his love, mercy and grace through all stages of one’s existence.

Artistically, technically, and creatively the production is top-notch, once again utilizing the theatre in the round space to its ultimate and fullest ability. Producing larger than life set pieces, assembling a three-tier barricade that covers the entire facility, and manipulating the light design to transform us from the darkest corners of the underground sewers to bright and vibrant streets of Paris. Toby, who skillfully, masterfully, powerfully and yet gently co-directed with Steven Fleming, stays true to the heart of the story and the passion and the strength of the score. Creating new and innovative staging that is touching, thought-provoking and artistically inspired. And the six-piece pit band under the musical direction of Christopher Youstra awakens every emotional note to its fullest potential.

Daniel Felton delivers a powerful, tormented, tender performance as Valjean, with stunning vocals and dominant and controlling presence. Felton’s “Who am I” is one of the purest moments in the production and an ultimate praise and connection to God, a complete believability of physical, spiritual and emotional growth. Janine Sunday’s Fantine is most differently up to par, delivering the legendary “I Dreamed a Dream” with pitch perfect vocals and conveying heart breaking emotions in “Come to me.” However the vulnerability that was desperately needed to complete Fantine’s full journey was slightly missing. Lacking no vulnerability is David James (Thenardier) and Theresa Cunningham (Madame Thenardier) who throw themselves completely in their respective roles with such rawness and passion that every moment of their presence on stage is beautifully prevailing. Ben Lurye (Enjolras) is perfectly cast as the leader of the revolutionary young idealists. His crisp and resonating tenor voice further strengthens the declaration of this production. Jeffrey S. Shankle (Marius) is one of the show’s strongest performances. Shankle’s range comes to full fruition in every aspect. MaryKate Brouillet’s (Eponine) is tragic and compassionate. Brouillet’s “On My Own” is refreshing and extremely honest. Brouillet’s and Shankle’s chemistry is also quite mesmerizing and emotional. Katie Heidbreder’s (Cossete) brings a glorious glimpse of purity, innocence and decency into a world of sin and immorality. Jace Franco is absolutely precious and perfectly cast as Gavroche. Franco demonstrates extremely strong maturity and vocals for such a young performer. Lawrence B. Muncey (Javert) delivers the evening’s most refined, intense, skillful and vivid performance. The tragic figures struggle with loyalty to God, man, the law and himself is skillfully accomplished by Muncey’s truthful nuances and breathtaking vocals.

Les Miserables is a show that can be easily made into a musical spectacle, losing its true identity and purpose. Luckily at Toby’s Dinner Theatre it shines its true art form and glorifies the name of God!

Photo Gallery

Jean Valjean (Daniel Felton) has just been released from prison Jean Valjean (Daniel Felton) pays the Thenardiers to take young Cosette (Ella Boodin) to raise her in a warm and loving home
Jean Valjean (Daniel Felton) has just been released from prison
Jean Valjean (Daniel Felton) pays the Thenardiers to take young Cosette (Ella Boodin) to raise her in a warm and loving home
The barricade built by the student revolutionaries Javert (Lawrence B. Munsey) - center - is exposed as a police spy. Left to Right: David Bosley-Reynolds, Nick Lehan, Lawrence B. Munsey, Will Emory, John Dellaporta, Jeffrey S. Shankle
The barricade built by the student revolutionaries
Javert (Lawrence B. Munsey) – center – is exposed as a police spy. Left to Right: David Bosley-Reynolds, Nick Lehan, Lawrence B. Munsey, Will Emory, John Dellaporta, Jeffrey S. Shankle
Marius (Jeffrey S. Shankle) pleads with Eponine (MaryKate Brouillet) to leave the barricade for safety and deliver a letter to Cosette Combeferre, a rebel student, (Tobias Young) prepares to fight the army to the end
Marius (Jeffrey S. Shankle) pleads with Eponine (MaryKate Brouillet) to leave the barricade for safety and deliver a letter to Cosette
Combeferre, a rebel student, (Tobias Young) prepares to fight the army to the end
The Thenardiers crash Marius' and Cosette's wedding - Thenardier (David James) and Madame Thenardier (Theresa Cunningham)
The Thenardiers crash Marius’ and Cosette’s wedding – Thenardier (David James) and Madame Thenardier (Theresa Cunningham)

Photos provided by Toby’s Dinner Theatre

Cast

  • Jean Valjean: Daniel Fulton
  • Javert: Lawrence B. Munsey
  • The Bishop on Digne: Andrew Horn
  • Fantine: Janine Sunday
  • Factory Foreman: David Bosley-Reynolds
  • Little Cosette: Ella Boodin or Caroline Otchet
  • Thenardier: David James
  • Madame Thenardier: Theresa Cunningham
  • Gavroche: Jace Franco or TJ Langston
  • Eponine: MaryKate Brouillet
  • Cosette: Katie Heidbreder
  • Students:
    • Enjolras: Ben Lurye
    • Marius: Jeffrey S. Shankle
    • Combeferre: Tobias Young
    • Feuily: Nick Lehan
    • Courfeyrac: Ben Gibson
    • Joly: John Dellaporta
    • Grantaire: Christopher Harris
    • Jean Prouvaire: Will Emory
  • Female Ensemble: Heather Marie Beck, Jane C. Boyle, Coby Kay Callahan, Dayna Marie Quincy, Lara Zinn.
  • The Chain Gang, Warders, Constables, Poor, Factory Workers, Sailors, Whores, Pimps, Thenardiers’s Gang, Drinkers and Wedding Guests are played by company members.
  • Swings: Tina DeSimone and Darren McDonnell
  • Understudies: Jean Valjean (Greg Knauf), Javert (Will Emory), Fantine (Heather Marie Beck), Thenardier and Bishop (David Bosley-Reynolds), Madame Thenardier (Jane C. Boyle), Eponine (Dayna Marie Quincy), Cosette (Lara Zinn), Marius, Enjolras (Nick Lehan)

Orchestra

  • Conductor: Christopher Youstra, Douglas Lawler or Greg Knauf
  • Keyboard 2: Ann Prizzi or Pamela Wilt
  • Violin: Patricia Waek or Mark Ericksen
  • Trumpet: Tony Neenan, Frank Gorecki or Aaron Holmes
  • Reeds: Charlene McDaniel or Steve Haaser
  • Trombone: Jay Ellis or Jeff Harrigan

Production Staff

  • Directors: Toby Orenstein and Steven Fleming
  • Musical Director: Christopher Youstra
  • Scenic Designer: David A. Hopkins
  • Costume Designers: David Gregory and Shannon M. Maddox
  • Lighting Designer: Lynn Joslin
  • Sound Designer: Drew Dedrick
  • Movement Coach: Jenny Male
  • Production Manager: Vickie S. Jhonson
  • Production Stage Manager: Kate Wackerle
  • Stage Managers: Drew Dedrick, Kate Wackerle
  • Technical Director: Jimmy Engelkemier
  • Master Carpenter: David A. Hopkins
  • Set Construction: David A. Hopkins, Russel Sunday, Melissa Valdivia, Ian Wallace
  • Properties and Set Dressing: Amy Kaplan
  • Light Board Operator: Coleen M. Foley
  • Sound Board Operators: Drew Dedrick, Jimmy Engelkemier

Disclaimer: Toby’s Dinner Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

This article can be linked to as: http://showbizradio.com/go/9668.

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