Les Misérables

Book by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg,
Music by Claude-Michel Schonberg, Lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer


Directed by Mark E. Schuster
May 1 to 17, 2015


Read the Reviews:
Waukesha Freeman, Lake Country Reporter

Photos:
Click on a photo to see a larger image

Photos By Carroll Studios Of Photography

Volunteer of the Production

Gwen Ter Haar

Sponsored In Part By

WCT projects are supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin.

Cast 

Brant Allen

Javert

Jake Andrejat

ABC Student / Ensemble

Aidan Bagley

Urchin Child / Ensemble

Jon Bartos

ABC Student / Ensemble

Katie Behrend Berg

Factory Girl / Whore / Ensemble

Sarah Brown

Urchin Child / Ensemble

Jack Burns

Urchin Child / Ensemble

Filippo Carini

Thenardier's Gang / Ensemble

Brenna Davison

Factory Girl / Whore / Ensemble

Roseann Fasi

Ensemble

Marty Graffenius

Thenardier's Gang / Ensemble

Shawn Holmes

Enjolras

Alex M. Johnson

ABC Student / Ensemble

Sydney Johnson

Urchin Child / Ensemble

Jon Jones

Thenardier's Gang / Ensemble

Taylor Kass

Eponine

Andrew Kelly

ABC Student / Ensemble

Emily Kittell

Factory Girl / Whore / Ensemble

Sarah Klauck

Fantine

Jane Klett

Old Beggar Woman / Whore / Ensemble

Matt Knudson

Thenardier's Gang / Ensemble

Jake Koch

Gavroche

Ellie Kumer

Urchin Child / Ensemble

Craig Kurjanski

ABC Student / Ensemble

Rich Labinski

Bishop / Thenardier's Gang / Ensemble

Annie MacLean

Urchin Child / Ensemble

Willow Marek

Young Cosette

Zachary Mathe

Marius

Shannon Messplay

Cosette

Nicole Morley

Factory Girl / Whore / Ensemble

Allison O'Donnell

Factory Girl / Whore / Ensemble

Connor O'Hara

ABC Student / Ensemble

Jasmine Ridgell

Factory Girl / Whore / Ensemble

Christina Schauer

Factory Girl / Whore / Ensemble

Phil Stepanski

ABC Student / Ensemble

Ben Tajnai

Jean Valjean

Gwen Ter Haar

Mme. Thenardier

Michael Travia

M. Thenardier

Ella Vitrano

Young Eponine

Shelly Waltho

Factory Girl / Whore / Ensemble

Trevor Waltho II

ABC Student/ Ensemble

Matthias Wong

Urchin Child / Ensemble

Production Staff 

Director/Scenic Designer

Mark E. Schuster

Music Director

Brian Myers

Production Stage Manager

Kristin Raduenz

Stage Manager

Debbie Volden

Master Carpenter

Patrick Schuster

Assistant Carpenter

A.J. Simon

Costume Designer

Sharon Sohner

Assistant Costume Designer

Sallie Burkard

Properties Designer

Kavyn Custer

Lighting Designer

Nick Da Via

Sound Designer

Keith Handy

Makeup Designer

Gemma Fitzsimmons

OrchExtra Programmer

Jon Jones

OrchExtra Operators

Alison Mary Forbes
Brian Myers

"Wedding Waltz" Choreographer

Theresa Alioto

Set Construction Crew

Jim Mallmann
Michael Talaska
Jim Volden

Costume Construction Crew

Renee Bartos
Aleta Bernard
Suzanne Campbell
Becky Molyneux
Lee Piekarski
Ellen Rohr

‘Les Miserables' thrills from start to finish

Powerful singing, acting, story, make it one of WCT's best
By JULIE McHALE - TimeOut Theater Critic
May 8, 2015

In the past 20 years, I have certainly witnessed some impressive musicals at Waukesha Civic Theatre. "Miss Saigon" and "Sound of Music" come to mind as the recent best.

Their present production, however, breaks all the former boundaries. "Les Miserables," probably the most beautiful musical ever written in terms of a powerfully provocative story combined with matchless music, demands gifted vocalists and talented actors.

Director Mark E. Schuster managed to garner the best cast to deliver this splendid work. It is, to put it simply, a thrilling experience from start to finish.

Having just seen worthy productions of "Les Mis" at two professional theaters, Skylight and Fireside, I didn't expect to see a community theater production of the same work that surpassed them both in terms of its evocative qualities. Not only was the lead actor, Ben Tajnai, more moving than the other two Jean Valjeans I witnessed, but the intensity of the entire cast and the musical quality of the many soloists and the ensemble singing was even more engaging.

The story, based on Victor Hugo's novel, is redolent of Charles Dickens and his emphasis on the plight of the poor and the prevalence of societal injustices. Valjean has just finished his extremely punitive 19-year-long sentence for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving nephew.

The cast of "Les Miserables" sings "Master of the House" in the musical production by the Waukesha Civic Theatre. The beloved adaptation of the Victor Hugo novel has theater critic Julie McHale calling it one of WCT's best performances.

Even after he is released, he is discriminated against and still pursued by Javert, a police inspector. As the story proceeds, the contrasting themes of revenge and forgiveness, spite and love, hope and despair come into play, and, despite the presence of pain and death in the story, redemption prevails. By the story's end, we are uplifted and inspired.

Despite the overall serious tone of the piece, there are moments of humor provided by the wily, blatantly greedy Thenardier couple, who memorably display their comedic talent in their delivery of "The Innkeeper's Song." Though their characters' tactics make us wince, we enjoy the performances of Gwen Ter Haar and Michael Travia immensely.

Other major roles that are convincingly delivered are those of Enjolras (Shawn Holmes), whose soaring voice made us shiver; Javert (Brant Allen), whose corrosive anger made us hate and pity him; Marius (Zachary Mathe), whose youthful passion and sincerity evoked our love; Eponine (Taylor Kass), whose bravery and unrequited love wrenched our hearts; and Fantine (Sarah Klauck), whose plight disturbed us.

Cosette, played by Shannon Messplay, was a bit lean on intensity, though her lovely vocals shone through. Willow Marek as the young Cosette delivers her "Cloud" solo nicely, and Jake Koch is fiercely effective in his role as the brave, young Gavroche.

The male and female ensembles are both strong as well.

A cast of 42 is well-directed and choreographed by the talented duo of Mark E. Schuster and Brian Myers. Costumes are well chosen by Sharon Sohner.

The most emotionally-rousing numbers included "I Dreamed a Dream," "On My Own," "The People's Song" and "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables," but the one that really wiped us out is "Bring Him Home," so touchingly delivered by Tajnai as Valjean while he pleads in prayer for Marius' safety.

There is a lot of vocal talent in any given community, but Tajnai's range, control and power are rarities anywhere. It is a privilege to hear him sing. This score is a perfect fit for him. His acting ability is electrifying as well.

The set designed by director Mark E. Schuster is able to suggest many different venues that are efficiently converted from one to another. The various heights add dimension and variety.

I can't recommend this show strongly enough. You must experience it. Hurry, though, this will be a sellout.

Review Title

By Reviewer Name
Posted: Month 16, 2012

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Waukesha Civic Theatre forges a memorable 'Les Miserables'

By Marilyn Jozwik
May 4, 2015

"Les Miserables" is among an elite group of musicals — it is perhaps the gold standard. Its unforgettable characters, poignant themes of justice and mercy, dramatic scenes and haunting Claude-Michel Schonberg music with Herbert Kretzmer lyrics have mesmerized audiences for years.

With the recent movie version and regular productions by high school and community theater groups, expectations are high each time it is presented.

Will the Jean Valjean and Javert characters deliver the wide range of vocals and conviction required? Will Fantine be sympathetic enough? Will the Eponine, Cosette and Marius characters create an effective love triangle? Can a community theater ensemble provide that big sound for the dramatic ensemble numbers? Will the barricade scenes do justice to the students' battles?

Waukesha Civic Theatre had a long wish list for its version—and, on opening night Friday, neatly checked everything off. In perhaps the theater's finest hours in recent years, this production was a standout in every way.

Director Mark Schuster had his cast firing on all cylinders on opening night — from the small details, like the costumed children moving set pieces and swift scene changes, to the obvious big picture, a peerless Jean Valjean played by Ben Tajnai.

Valjean's dilemma
Tajnai set the tone for the evening with his stirring rendition of "Who Am I?" as he agonizes over the decision to turn himself in when he learns that a man believed to be him has been caught. Valjean spent 19 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread before violating his probation and creating a new life as Monsieur Madeleine. He becomes a mayor and a benevolent factory owner.

"If I speak I am condemned; If I stay silent I am damned," sings Valjean. And then adds that the people he employs will also suffer if he turns himself in. "If I speak, they are condemned."

The moral dilemmas in Victor Hugo's 1800s novel still resonate.

After his escape, Valjean is shown mercy by a bishop and feels the need to pay it forward. The policeman Javert pursues Valjean relentlessly, unable to let go of his obsession with justice. "Those who follow the path of justice shall reap their reward," he sings.

While Javert's life is stuck on one note, Valjean has sought a life of philanthropy and good deeds. He lifts an oxcart off a trapped man; promises the dying Fantine, a prostitute who once worked for him, he will take care of her young daughter, Cosette; and saves a student badly injured in a political revolt.

Strength throughout
There are numerous layers to this story writers Alain Boubill and Claude-Michel Schonberg so expertly crafted from this hefty tome, extracting characters that have become part of our cultural literacy.

With Tajnai's Valjean doing the heavy lifting, everything just seemed to fall into place. Brant Allen has a strong bass voice for antagonist Javert and matched Valjean's intensity in each scene.

Gwen Ter Haar and Michael Travia, as unscrupulous inn owners Madame and Monsieur Thenardier, delightfully camped up "The Innkeeper's Song," always a crowd favorite. I especially enjoyed the attitude and big expression Ter Haar brought to the character.

There were splashes of wonderful moments in virtually every scene — the gaudy colors and costumes of the ladies in the Red Light District and their salacious manner as they solicited sailors in "The Docks" scene; Jake Koch's urchin Gavroche bursting onto the scene with such incredible verve; the beautifully paired vocals of Taylor Kass as Eponine and Zachary Mathe as Marius in "A Little Fall of Rain"; Shawn Holmes' thunderous intonations as Enjolras, leader of the uprising; and Sarah Klauck's heartfelt "I Dreamed a Dream" as Fantine.

None of the pivotal moments was disappointing. Kass as Eponine is quite a presence and rendered a lovely "On My Own." Shannon Messplay as Cosette displayed an amazing soprano voice, as she had in WCT's "The Sound of Music." And little Willow Marek's was sweet as she dreamily sang "Castle on a Cloud" as the young Cosette.

But the highlight of the evening was Tajnai's "Bring Him Home." Tajnai owned this piece, sliding effortlessly through falsettos into tenderness.

Ensemble veterans
With Brian Myers directing music, this was perhaps the most outstanding ensemble for any WCT musical. The music presented in group numbers was a like tidal wave — a pure, sweeping wall of sound, with all its wonderful high notes, swelling crescendos, dramatic whispers — filling the theater as if it were Uihlein Hall.

Ensemble members, many of whom have starred in local productions, included veterans like Roseann Fasi, Katie Behrend Berg, Alex Johnson, Matt Knudson and Phil Stepanski. They really anchored this group in the men's, women's and group numbers. Ensemble and soloists all paid attention to lyrics, enunciation and staying engaged with the audience. And, there were no perceptible bobbles.

Set design and lighting, which included an effective backdrop that described place and time and served as a starry night, were most effective. Costumes also were of professional quality.

But most of all was a commitment from every cast and crew member to make this an unforgettable "Les Miserables."

Student rate is available for children and any patron with a current student ID. Senior rate applies to all patrons 60 years or older. Military rate is available for any active or reserve member of the military with a current military ID.

Military rate is available for any patron with a valid current Military ID.

For our "Pay What You Can" performances, patrons can buy tickets for that show on the day of the performance at whatever price their budget will allow.

Subscriber rate is available to any subscriber for unlimited additional tickets outside their package.

10 ticket minimum per performance required.

Educational Group Rate is only available for all educational groups and Boy and Girl Scout troops. 10 ticket minimum per performance required.

Volunteer of the Production - Gwen Ter Haar

Gwen Ter Haar has a very upbeat personality and positive energy, and she never failed to bring that to rehearsal. Her hugs, smiles, and willingness to include all the cast members made everyone feel welcome and created a family environment with the cast. Gwen's dedication and enthusiasm for the show made her a great leader, and she was committed to making the show a success. Gwen was always willing to lend a helping hand and kept the cast and crew smiling through the long days.