By Meghan Poff
A sense of unsettled anticipation hung in the air as the auditorium slowly filled for FC Theater’s first showing of the classic musical, Les Miserables. The play was an ambitious choice for director Robbie Steiner, but former FC theater director Chris Bundy never doubted his choice for a moment.
“Let’s just say this is one of the most difficult shows you can stage but I am absolutely confident that it will be great because it’s being done by Floyd Central theater,” said Bundy.
The curtains opened to the dramatic crash of drums resonating from the orchestra pit, igniting an electric start to what was to be a powerful production. Despite the difficulty of the music and maturity of the content, the cast handled the challenge with the confidence of seasoned professionals.
The prologue, which introduced the plot of the show, featured Silver Creek theater director Alonzo Richmond, who, as lead character Jean Valjean, was one of two adult actors cast. Although initially believing Richmond would appear out of place in a sea of middle and high school students, it soon became clear that Richmond’s orotund voice complemented those of the young performers.
Along with Richmond was Highland Hills band director Phil Thomas, who in his role as Inspector Javert, absolutely stole the show with his dynamic stage presence and commanding demeanor. From his first appearance in the prologue to the end of the play, Thomas did indeed feel out of place. Though Thomas was often a secondary member in the scene, his cold and exacting execution of Javert outshone other cast members with the pure enormity of his singing prowess.
The guest actors may have dazzled with their performances, but the show also displayed the spectacular student talent. Senior Clay Gulley, playing the rank and despicable Thernardier, received thundering applause with his obnoxious caricature in “Master of the House.” Intended as the comic relief in a mostly somber show, Gulley rose to the task perfectly, playing well off of Mrs. Thernardier, junior Mary Hayes. Senior Savannah Wormley, an ensemble cast member, said she really looks up to Gulley as an actor.
“He is naturally talented and charismatic on the stage. Much of this is due to the way he completely puts himself into the character. It’s like it’s not even Clay anymore. He was perfect for Thernardier.”
One of the most surprising aspects of the performance was the stellar performance by secondary characters. Along with Gulley, junior Jade Dailey tugged the emotions of the audience as Eponine, whose passionate renditions of “On My Own” and “A Heart Full of Love” seemed mature beyond her years.
But as with any show, Les Mis would not have been nearly as effective without the technical elements. Junior Liam Resener, who played the Bishop of Digne, said the show presented a challenge because it is is so technically heavy, especially the big sets and scenery like the infamous barricade. The large set pieces are a testament to the skill of the technical theater department; not only were the challenges masterfully executed, but the lighting was superb and transformed the tone of the play from mournful, in the melancholy blue of “Castle on a Cloud” to the triumphant red of “The People’s Song.”
So after an inciting end with the epilogue, the cast took the stage for an booming standing ovation. Though only in high school, the theater department truly proved their status as the best in the Midwest with Les Mis. As people filed out of the theater, Bundy, who had purposely waited until the first night to see the show, stood up from his seat and stretched. He was smiling.