'Les Misérables'

Lazenby Hall, UNE - May 2002

Stage Direction by Neil Horton
Musical Direction by Bruce Menzies
Produced by Margaret Kennedy

By Alain Boublil And Claude-Michel Schonberg. Lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer. Based on the novel by Victor Hugo. By arrangement with Cameron Mackintosh Ltd and Warner/Chappell Music Australia Pty Ltd.

SETTING

Living conditions for the French poor in the early 19th century were almost unimaginably bad - even compared to Britain. Trying to compete with more advanced British industry, French manufacturers pushed wages down to below subsistence level. And because manufacturing largely remained at the domestic "cottage industry" standard, organised union action for better wages and conditions was rare. The most successful areas of French industry remained the luxury trades - fine lace, ribbons, porcelain and furniture - the grossly poor working up to 18 hours a day to decorate the person and the home of the wealthy.

Daumier's caustic image, of Louis Philippe (King of the French 1830-1848) as a machine for taking from the poor and giving to the rich reflected disillusionment and the results of the 1830 Revolution. In "three glorious days" in July 1830, barricades went up in the streets of Paris and Charles X was overthrown, ending the royalist Restoration which the Allies had imposed on France after the Napoleonic Empire.

The workers led in creating the Revolution but the middle-classes reaped the benefit. With the aristocracy removed from positions of power, the haute bourgeoisie dominated the age, installing "one of their own" as King: Louis Philippe walked about Paris dressed like any wealthy banker and earned himself the nickname of the Umbrella King. The motto of the age was enrichessez-vous ("get rich") and the already-wealthy proceeded to do just that. Louis Philippe's government refused to interfere in industry (during his whole reign there were only two, ineffective measures of social reform), except when workers tried to demand better wages and conditions. Then the full force of the state, police and army was brought in to crush rebellion.

SYNOPSIS

Prologue: 1815, Digne

Jean Valjean, released on parole after 19 years on the chain gang, finds that the yellow ticket-of-leave he must, by law, display condemns him to be an outcast. Only the saintly Bishop of Digne treats him kindly and Valjean, embittered by years of hardship, repays him by stealing some silver. Valjean is caught and brought back by police, and is astonished when the Bishop lies to the police to save him, also giving him two precious candlesticks, Valjean decides to start his life anew.

1823, Montreuil-Sur-Mer

Eight years have passed and Valjean, having broken his parole and changed his name to Monsieur Madeleine, has risen to become both a factory owner and mayor. One of his workers, Fantine, has a secret illegitimate child. When the other women discover this, they demand her dismissal. The Foreman, whose advances she has rejected, throws her out.

Desperate for the money to pay for medicines for her daughter, Fantine sells her locket and her hair and then joins the whores in selling herself. Utterly degraded by her new trade, she gets into a fight with a prospective customer and is about to be taken to prison by Javert when "The Mayor" arrives and demands she be taken to hospital instead.

The Mayor then rescues a man pinned down by a runaway cart. Javert is reminded of the abnormal strength of convict 24601 Jean Valjean, a parole-breaker whom he has been tracking for years but who, he says has just been recaptured. Valjean, unable to see an innocent man go to prison in his place, confesses to the court that he is prisoner 24601.

At the hospital, Valjean promises the dying Fantine to find and look after her daughter Cosette. Javert arrives to arrest him, but Valjean escapes.

1823, Montfermeil

Cosette has been lodged for five years with the Thénardiers who run an inn, horribly abusing the little girl whom they use as a skivvy while indulging their own daughter, Eponine. Valjean finds Cosette fetching water in the dark. He pays the Thénardiers to let him take Cosette away and takes her to Paris. But Javert is still on his tail.

1832, Paris

Nine years later, there is great unrest in the city because of the likely demise of the popular leader General Larmarque, the only man left in the Government who shows any feeling for the poor. The urchin Gavroche is in his element mixing with the whores and beggars of the capital.

Among the street-gangs is one led by Thénardiers and his wife, which sets upon Jean Valjean and Cosette. They are rescued by Javert, who does not recognise Valjean until after he has made good his escape. The Thénardier's daughter Eponine, who is secretly in love with the student Marius, reluctantly agrees to help him find Cosette, with whom he has fallen in love.

At a political meeting in a small café, a group of idealistic students prepares for the revolution they are sure will erupt on the death of General Lamarque. When Gavroche brings the news of the General's death, the students, led by Enjolras, stream out into the streets to whip up popular support. Only Marius is distracted, by thoughts of the mysterious Cosette.

Cosette is consumed by thoughts of Marius, with whom she has fallen in love. Valjean realises that his "daughter" is changing very quickly but refuses to tell her anything of her past. In spite of her own feelings for Marius, Eponine sadly brings him to Cosette then prevents an attempt by her father's gang to rob Valjean's house. Valjean, convinced it was Javert who was lurking outside his house, tells Cosette they must prepare to flee the country. On the eve of the revolution, the students and Javert see the situation from their different viewpoints; Cosette and Marius part in despair of ever meeting again; Eponine mourns the loss of Marius; and Valjean looks forward to the security of exile. The Thénardiers, meanwhile, dream of rich pickings underground from the chaos to come.

The students prepare to build the barricade. Marius, noticing that Eponine has joined the insurrection sends her with a letter to Cosette, which is intercepted at the Rue Plumet by Valjean. Eponine decides despite what he has said to her, to rejoin Marius at the barricade.

The barricade is built and the revolutionaries defy an army warning that they must give up or die. Gavroche exposes Javert as a police spy. In trying to return to the barricade, Eponine is shot and killed. Valjean arrives at the barricade in search of Marius. He is given the chance to kill Javert but instead lets him go.

The students settle down for a night on the barricade and in the quiet of the night, Valjean prays to God to save Marius from the onslaught which is to come. The next day, with ammunition running low, Gavroche runs out to collect more and is shot. The rebels are all killed, including their leader Enjolras. Valjean escapes into the sewers with the unconscious Marius. After meeting Thénardier, who is robbing the corpses of the rebels, he emerges into the light only to meet Javert once more. He pleads for time to deliver the young man to hospital. Javert decides to let him go and, his unbending principles of justice having been shattered by Valjean's own mercy, kills himself by plunging into the swollen River Seine. A number of Parisian women come to terms with the failed insurrection and its victims. Unaware of the identity of his rescuer, Marius recovers in Cosette's care. Valjean confesses the truth of his past to Marius and insists that after the young couple are married, he must go away rather than taint the sanctity and safety of their union. At Marius and Cosette's wedding, the Thénardiers try to blackmail Marius. Thénardier says Cosette's "father" is a murderer and as proof produces a ring which he stole from the corpse in the sewers the night the barricades fell. It is Marius' own ring and he realises it was Valjean who rescued him that night. He and Cosette go to Valjean where Cosette learns for the first time of her own history before the old man dies, joining the spirits of Fantine, Eponine and all those who died on the barricades.

MUSICAL NUMBERS

Prologue: 1815, Digne

'Prologue' - Ensemble
'Soliloquy' - Valjean

1823 - Montreuil-Sur-Mer

'At the End of the Day' - Unemployed and Factory Workers
'I Dreamed A Dream' - Fantine
'Lovely Ladies' - Ladies and Clients
'Who Am I?' - Valjean
'Come To Me' - Fantine and Valjean
'Confrontation' - Javert and Valjean

1823, Montfermeil

'Castle on a Cloud' - Little Cosette
'Master of the House' - Thénardier, his wife and customers
'Thénardier Waltz' - M. and Mme. Thénardier and Valjean

1832, Paris

'Look Down' - Gavroche and the beggars
'Stars' - Javert
'Red and Black' - Enjolras, Marius and students
'Do You Hear The People Sing?' - Enjolras, the students and citizens
'In My Life' - Cosette, Valjean, Marius, Eponine
'A Heart Full of Love' - Cosette, Marius and Eponine
'Attack on the Rue Plumet' - Thénardier Gang, Eponine
'One Day More' - Ensemble

1832, Paris

'At the Barricade' - Enjolras and students
'On My Own' - Eponine
'Little People' - Gavroche, Javert and students
'A Little Fall of Rain' - Eponine and Marius
'Night of Anguish' - Enjolras, Valjean and students
'First Attach' - Students and Police
'Drink With Me To Days Gone By' - Grantaire, students and women
'Bring Him Home' - Valjean
'The Second Attack' - Gavroche and students
'The Final battle' - Students and Police
'Dog Eats Dog' - Thénardier
'Soliloquy' - Javert
'Turning' - Women
'Empty Chairs a Empty Tables' - Marius
'Wedding Chorale' - Guests
'Beggars at the Feast' - M. and Mme. Thénardier
'Finale' - Valjean, Fantine, Eponine, Cosette, Marius and ensemble

DIRECTOR'S MESSAGE

They say the hallmark of great theatre is where, as an audience your life is changed or profoundly influenced by a performance. While I couldn't say my life has been irrevocably changed by "Les Misérables" it has certainly made me passionate about it ever since I saw the original professional production in Sydney in the mid eighties. I can vividly remember my mother urging me to go as a birthday present, when I was on a stop over in Sydney on my way to of all things, an AIDS conference in Adelaide. Reluctantly I went and by the end of Fantine's solo "I Dreamed a Dream", I was hooked by this stirring and powerful piece of music theatre. Suffice to say, as soon as the amateur rights became available I was keen to stage it. Living in Glen Innes at that time in 1994, I tried to interest the Glen Innes Arts Council in it, but probably, and rightfully so, they turned my offer down, the small town of Glen Innes not being able to provide enough of the talent and personnel to do it justice, let alone a big enough venue. When Tamworth Entertainment Society mooted a production at the beginning of 1995, I was crazy enough to commit to the 2½ hour drive (each way) to play Thénadier in it, such was my passion for this piece (some would call it obsession!).

It was during "Pirates of Penzance" in 2000 that the amateur rights were once again released. I can remember talking to Waine Grafton about my desire to see it staged in Armidale. Being as passionate about the show as I, he was also keen to be involved at the grass roots level. This production has therefore been planned for well over two years.

With any show of this scale and scope there is a natural reluctance to think that it is beyond our abilities and would cost too much to do the show justice. Fortunately after a lot of planning from a small group of "Les Misophiles" we were able to convince the Society that not only do we have the talent in Armidale but that we could stage it within our means.

When over 100 people auditioned for the show in late January, the excitement was palpable and has not diminished over the 14 weeks of intensive rehearsals. Even now as we are ready to perform for you tonight, nigh on 120 people are involved in making this show the memorable one we know it will be.

I would personally like to thank my wife Jane for putting up with my passion for so long, and still remaining sane. I would also like to thank Bruce Menzies, Waine Grafton, Marney Tilley and Margaret Kennedy for bringing their many and varied talents into play, and without whom this show would not have been staged. I would in particular, like to thank our wonderful accompanists Robyn Bradley and Cathy Archer. The 3 hours of music requires a huge amount of dedication and skill and without these two ladies, we wouldn't have even had a starting point.

So sit back, and prepare for an experience that only comes along once in a lifetime. A unique musical, telling a powerful story with superb music, wonderful characters and great spirituality, I feel confident that it will touch your lives as it has mine.

CAST

Jean Valjean: John Goodfellow, Javert: Waine Grafton, Fantine: Jane Andersen, Thénadier: Mike Gibson,Madame Thénadier: Catherine Wright, Cosette: Madeleine Zell, Marius: Brad Crook, Eponine: Nicolle Kennedy/Rachel Menzies, Young Cosette/Young Eponine: Abby Pearson/Rosemary Waugh, Gavroche: Jesse Stevenson, Enjolras: Neil Horton, Bishop of Digne: Robert Tumeth, Fauchelevant: Gordon Cope,Combeferre: David Wright/Warren Bartik, Jean Prouvaire: Ben Mettam/David Wright, Feuilly: Byron Spencer/James Rutten, Courfeyrac: Nathan Hope/Will Coventry, Jolic: James Brown/Nathan Hop, Grantaire: Doug Rumble

Lesgles: James Brown/Simon Wright, Babet/Foreman: David Paterson, Pimp 1: James Brown, Pimp 2: Simon Wright, Bamatabois: James Rutten/Nathan Hope, Brujon: David Wright, Montparnasse: Byron Spencer, Claquesous: Brian Thomas

Female Ensemble: Alexandra Miller, Amber Charlesworth, Barbara Colledge, Beryl Hamel, Briahna Barry, Donna Wainohu, Ellen Fitzgerald, Emma Chapman, Emma Gibbs, Emma Hadfield, Emma Horton, Erin Chapman, Frances Tafra, Gabrielle Alexander, Jeanette Berman, Katie Bradley, Lauren Whitmore, Marney Tilley, Nadia Ozanne, Olivia Rogers, Peta Bale, Rebecca Mooney, Robyn Slocombe, Ros Brady, Ruth Strutt, Sharyn Holmes, Tracey James, Vivienne Nano

Male Ensemble: Alan Wilkinson, Ben Mettam, Brian Thomas, Bryce Little, Byron Spencer, Christian Evans, David Paterson, David Wright, Doug Rumble, Gordon Cope, James Brown, James Rutten, Nathan Hope, Peter McGarry, Rob Tumeth, Simon Wright, Warren Bartik, Will Coventry

ORCHESTRA ("Les & The Miserables")

Conductor: Bruce "Les" Menzies, Keyboard 1: Robyn Bradley, Keyboard 2: Sue Metcalf, Violin 1: Kate Chapman, Violin 2: Willow Stahlut Kemp, Viola: Annie Chapman, Cello 1: Claire Chapman, Cello 2: Angela Farrell, Double Bass: Wendy Griffiths, Guitar: Steve Thornycroft, Flute/Piccolo: Sharon Davidge, Clarinet/Alto Saxaphone: Chris Garden, Horn 1: Kerry Hawkins, Horn 2: David Gerrish, Trumpet 1: Wayne Elliot, Trumpet 2: Michelle Harrison, Trumpet 3: Terry Million, Trombone: Dave Brown, Oboe/Cor: Judy Tudball, Percussion 1: Murray Winton, Percussion 2: Chris Bradley

PRODUCTION TEAM

Director: Neil Horton
Musical Director: Bruce Menzies
Producer: Margaret Kennedy
Artistic Director: Waine Grafton
Assistant Director: Marney Tilley
Repetiteur: Robyn Bradley
Voice Coach: Cathy Archer
Stage Manager: Colin Barry
Lighting: Bryce Little
Sound: Chris Estreich, Nick Monk
Publicity: Alan Wilkinson, Gabrielle Alexander
Costumes: Donna Wainohu
Sets: Gordon Cope
Make-up: Mike Gibson
Front of House: John Brady, Debbie Towner
Ticketing: Bruce Little, Margaret Kennedy
Finances: Robert Tumeth
Clerical: Jane Horton
Catering: Dorothy Pollard

PRODUCTION CREW

Orchestra: Jim Harrop
Props: Kristen Adair
Cast Call: Ceri Lea Matthew
Backstage: Bernadette Scott, Catherine Fenning, Darren Mackie, Jim Harrop, Julie Gregg, Len O'Riley, Marie O'Riley, Pam Menzies, Ryan Jones, Therese Scott
Set Construction: Colin Barry
Lighting: Bryce Little, Lachlan Ashley, Simon Polson
Publicity: Paul Reader
Costuming: Aline Christenson, Angela Farrell, Barbara Colledge, Brooke Robinson, Chris Leger, Deniece Chapman, Dorothy Pollard, Emma Hall, Gwen Holley, Jane Horton, Jenny Warnock, Jill Divola, Kim Bastock, Lyndia Scott, Meg Foster, Ngaire Lewis, Robyn Slocombe, Ros Brady, Sandra Galley
Merchandising: Gabrielle Alexander
Make-up: Aline Christenson, Anna Welch, Chris Leger, Donna Wainohu, Emma Hall, Emma Mallam, Gwen Holley, Jill Divola, Kate Nixon, Kerri-Ann O'Sullivan, Lindy Mein, Meg Foster, Yvonne Eddie
Catering: Gwen Holley, Meg Foster
Front of House: Annie Abbott, Armidale High School students, Astrid Blake, Beverly Jenkins, Bill Strutt, Bob Crosslé, Diana Helmrich, Duval High School students, Garry Slocombe, Isabel Strutt, Jan Patterson, Janelle Vasey, Janelle Warden, Jean Freer, Jessica Kalinowski, John Hamel, Kate Coward, Keith Potten, Lyndley Lush, Marina Reader, Roslyn Schultz, Stephanie Alexander, Terry Wright, Victoria Bellingham
Programme: Gabrielle Alexander
Graphic Design of Programme: Cynthia Mulholland
Photography: Brian Thomas
Crew Awards: Jeanette Berman

THANKS TO

Autumn Festival Float: Chris Henderson, David Wright, Gabrielle Alexander, Hilliers Transport, Peter McGarry, Ros Brady, Zielinski Timbers, Rehearsal Venue: Armidale High School, Armidale Showground Trust, Duval High School, Sponsorship: Cattlemans Motor Inn, New England Credit Union, Qantas, Rob Dewhurst,Transporting Costumes: Knights Transport, Wig and Hair Consultation: Dee's Classic Cuts.

SPECIAL THANKS TO

 James Worner of Miranda Musical Society for effort above and beyond the call of duty in delivering our costumes.