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Les Mis est très magnifique!


October 17, 2013
"Stunning" … "amazing" … "powerful" … "unbelievable" … "emotional" … "touching" … "magnificent," are all the superlatives coming to mind to describe the 413 Project's presentation of Les Mis, currently playing at the Bailey-Bees Theater at Community Lutheran Church of Escondido.

Reviews of local community theater usually by saying something to the effect, "you would not have expected that" from one or several of the cast, as there is always an unexpected standout or two in local production. In this case, the entire show is an absolute exceptional performance in every way. Katie Burlington, founder, director and producer of the newly-formed 413 Project group has pulled together an amazing production and cast of performers (a number of which are from Valley Center) to bring off a triumphant presentation of Victor Hugo's classic tale of Struggle, and Redemption.

David Guthrie as the reformed convict and protagonist Jean Val-Jean was simply a standout with his songs One Day More, and Bring Him Home, his performance brought a vulnerability and deep emotion to the role. Jacob Hatch was absolutely perfect in his role as the righteous lawman Javert, his rendition of Stars put to shame any prior version I have seen. Chelsea Nygaard — who bears a striking resemblance to Anne Hathaway — portrayed tragedy as the abused and forgotten prostitute Fantine, performing a heart wrenching rendition of I Dreamed a Dream. Katie Burlington as the street urchin Eponine delivered a powerful rendition of On My Own as she is forgotten by the excellently played Marius (Robert Coe) who is smitten with the lonely adopted daughter of Valjean Cosette (Julie Burlington).

The excellent chemistry between these three is shown stunningly in the beautiful duets A Heart Full of Love, and In My Life. Rounding out the cast were the excellent Daniel Robinson and Katie Ezell as the shifty Thenardier and Madame Thenardier respectively, and Allain Fransisco as the revolutionary Enjorlas and finally seven-year-old Tirzah Villareal as Young Cosette with her song Castle on a Cloud, which she perfectly executes, leaving some of the audience in tears. The ensemble for this show also featured many excellent and strong soloists playing students in the revolution including Jake Fran) as Courferac and Ryan Burtanog as Grantaire.

Lighting, sounds, and special effects were solid. The sets were well done, creating the somber atmosphere for this bittersweet tale. Costuming was exquisite, reflecting the period authenticity brought by historical consultation. Finally, the production had an outstanding live music score led by conductor Kyle Fanene and performed by a group of talented musicians from UCSD. This group was near flawless and rivaled any professional productions orchestra.

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