Les Misérables wows Ivybridge audiences


More than 1,500 audience members were last week treated to a spectacular display of musical theatre, as Ivybridge Community College ran five sell-out performances – from Wednesday 17 July to Saturday 20 July – of ‘the most popular musical in the world’ – Les Misérables.

The 200-strong cast and crew left audiences touched by their emotional performances, injecting passion into the musical’s themes, which include politics, moral philosophy, integrity and romance.

“What can I say? It was overwhelming, moving, exciting, and funny,” said audience member Russ Mogridge. “What a show – a complete musical and emotional experience.”

Preparations for Les Mis involved 20 weeks of hard work, commitment, and creativity from the 200 like-minded students. They also had inspiration along the way, including the opportunity to work with Leanne Rogers – who played Madame Thénardier opposite Matt Lucas in the West End show – and good luck messages, cards and programmes from stars of both the film and West End stage versions.

“This year’s cast and crew were among the best we have ever had at the college,” said director and Head of Drama Amy Clarke, “and to say I am proud of their achievement is an understatement. To truly ‘perform’ it’s essential to have an understanding of the themes and character’s emotions, and I’ve been astounded by the level of appreciation that all of the cast have for the musical – they immediately ‘got it’, which made my job much easier. It’s tremendously satisfying to see it all come together so well.

Throughout the production, audiences were wowed by 30 dramatic scenes, including a touching performance of I Dreamed a Dream by Victoria May, Master of House (featuring Charlie Heptinstall and Caitlin Welch as Monsieur and Madame Thénardier) and a whole-cast performance of One Day More.

“There were too many exceptional performances to pick out any one in particular, but I have to thank everyone involved for how well they performed,” added Amy. “It’s only possible to put on a show of such quality and magnitude once every few years as you have to be sure that your group of students are of the highest calibre to pull it off. And they certainly managed it. It’s an experience they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.”

Lead cast members included:
• Fraser Wearne as Jean Valjean,
• John Archer as Inspector Javert
• Victoria May as Fantine
• Jemima Deboo-Sands as Cossette,
• Charlie Heptinstall as Thénardier
• Caitlin Welch as Madame Thénardier
• Kyle Turner as Marius
• Aaron Ashton as Enjolras
• Lauren Roberts as Éponine

Mr Rob Haring, Ivybridge Community College’s Principal, summed up the value of staging Les Misérables. He said: “I am extremely proud of each and every person that has played their part in putting together such an impressive and spectacular show. Balancing traditional academic success with success in more creative areas is vital if we hope to nurture well-rounded young people – which is why Ivybridge Community College is committed to extracurricular activities like this. The performing arts help students to stay motivated, communicate effectively, work well with others, and articulately express themselves. You cannot underestimate the value of these opportunities.”

“Fantastic. It was as good as – no, I take that back, it was better – than the movie. The singing talent here would put X-Factor contestants to shame.” - Nita Walding

Jane Whittington encapsulated the whole experience. She said: “I got goose bumps when Jean Valjean sang Bring Him Home, and when the whole cast sang together the effect was absolutely wonderful.”

“The orchestra should get a special mention – they were wonderful.” - Carol Lewis

“Absolutely stunning. Master of the House was outstanding and as good as we saw in London.” – Mrs Chris Gentle

“We loved every single minute of it.” - Sam Lumley.

ALL PHOTOS taken by Alison Richards.