May 16, 2018
by Dafyd Martindale
The South Burnett is in for a rare treat this week when the curtain goes up on the South Burnett Musical Comedy Society’s latest production, a choral adaptation of Les Miserables.
For the past three months, a record-breaking cast of 75 singers have been rehearsing the musical based on Victor Hugo’s classic novel at Kingaroy State High School’s auditorium.
And this Friday night, May 18, they’ll be taking to Kingaroy Town Hall’s stage to deliver one of the most breath-taking productions ever attempted in our region.
How good will it be?
Well, the full cast performed at the recent Kingaroy Eisteddfod in front of a Brisbane judge and were awarded a staggering 98.6 out of 100 for their efforts.
I caught up with the group on Sunday during rehearsals at Kingaroy Town Hall.
After hearing the final 15 minutes of Act 1, I can vouch that their win was very well-deserved.
For those unfamiliar with the story, Les Miserables (‘Les Mis’) is set in early 19th century France.
It tells the story of Jean Valjean, a French peasant, and his quest for redemption after serving 19 years in jail for stealing a loaf of bread to aid his sister’s starving child.
Valjean decides to break his parole and start his life anew after a kindly bishop inspires him with a tremendous act of mercy, but he is relentlessly tracked down by police inspector Javert.
Along the way, Valjean and a host of characters are swept up into a revolutionary period in France, where a group of young idealists make their last stand at a street barricade.
Yes, Les Mis is a tearjerker, no doubt about it.
Only the most stony-hearted among us will be unable to shed a tear before the final curtain comes down.
But it is also a tremendously uplifting story of struggle and hope, the triumph of good over evil, the dignity of the human spirit and the promise of better days to come.
Director Susan Dowidiet-Reiger has assembled a cast for the production that ranges in ages from 4 to 84.
Many have never performed in a SBMC production before, although they would be familiar faces to anyone who’s attended performances by several of our region’s leading singing groups.
The cast also includes students from St Mary’s Catholic College; St John’s Lutheran School; and Kingaroy, Taabinga and Kumbia State Schools, as well as Kingaroy State High.
Veteran performer Kendall Siddans is outstanding in the lead role of Jean Valjean, and fellow SMBC veteran Warren Wintour is equally outstanding as the villainous Javert.
So, too, is Cosette, another pivotal role whose teenage persona is played by Madison Wintour (a different performer plays “little Cosette”).
Several other roles are played by multiple actors in the three-hour production, which will include an interval so audiences can stretch their legs and find a fresh box of tissues.
The debut performance of Les Miserables will occur at 7:00pm this Friday, May 18, and it will be followed by a 2:00pm matinee on Saturday, May 19.
The following week it will be performed at 7:00pm on Friday, and 2:00pm on Saturday and Sunday, May 25-27.
Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for concessions and students, but children under 5 are free.
Tickets can be booked online, but some will also be available at the door unless the performance is already booked out.
Personally, I’d recommend booking.
This is a breath-taking show that deserves to play to capacity houses, and will likely get them.