BWW Reviews: Woodland Opera House Provides Memorable LES MISERABLES

It's easy to get on a Les Mis fix. The popular musical is one of which theatre lovers never grow tired, and now that public rights are available to produce the Broadway show, it seems almost every theatre company in the country will bring its own actors, unique capabilities and more intimate space to the larger-than-life production.

In the Sacramento Region, Woodland Opera House provides a fantastic cast performing in its lovely, historic space and directed by Amy Shuman, with a formidable orchestra led by James C. Glica-Hernandez. Flawless, but minimal lighting design by Jeff Kean lends considerably to the atmosphere, and efficient sets designed by John Bowles make great use of the building's fly space, especially during Javert's second act "Soliloquy" followed by a striking finale.

Led by Tevye Ditter as convict Jean Valjean and J. Sing as police inspector Javert, the entire ensemble of actors possesses epic passion and energy. A clear stand out with his arresting conviction, Sing knows how to emphasize and annunciate his words in order to convey his character's frustrations at losing prisoner 24601. Valjean follows a journey from desperation to faith, love and redemption as his efforts to protect orphan Cosette bring him to the front lines of a new revolution's barricades. Ditter's full, rich vocals carry much of the show's three-hour length, leaving strong impressions after stirring renditions of "Who Am I" and "Bring Him Home."

In the supporting cast, Rodger McDonald makes a quick appearance as the Bishop early in the show, and his incredible voice is missed throughout. Danielle DeBow makes her mark in her short moments as Fantine, Cosette's mother forced into prostitution. Dan Sattel's overt gestures and large personality as con man Thenardier make a fun, but not as comedic as it could be, "Master of the House" enjoyable. Christine Deamer joins him as Madame Thenardier, showing off some of the production's best costumes. Hilary Wells plays their daughter, the love struck Eponine.

Dalton McNeely gives one of the most memorable performances of the production as the young Marius in love with Cosette. McNeely's stout charisma and overpowering voice match well with Alyssa Ray's straightforward Cosette, and with Matt Taloff's inspiring leader of the revolution, Enjolras. The three child actors of the production - Maxwell Freedman as Gavroche, Makenna Harding-Davis as Little Cosette and Marley Michel as Little Eponine - all add adorable enthusiasm to the production.


Woodland Opera House
Through October 6

Photo Credit: Amy Shuman

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