About a month ago I had the privilege of watching one of my students perform in a production of Les Miserables at St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School.* For those who have not experienced this epic musical, it is set in the middle of the French Revolution and tends more towards the reality of war than towards happy endings. Amy played Fantine, a girl who seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and who has responsibility for a young daughter and some tricky songs. Whilst I had heard the song during lessons, I was not prepared for watching her sing ‘I dreamed a dream,’ and how she put what we’d worked on into practice even through scenes of tears and despair – no mean feat – try singing beautifully the next time you shed a few! Not only that, but Amy had her hair cut off live, on stage, to raise money for the Little Princess Trust. What impressed me overall was that, in a play that consisted entirely of singing (bar, possibly, two spoken lines), one school could find, nuture and present enough talented singers to pull it off. The cast consisted of over 40 students, and there was a choir of 45, semi-concealed behind a screen, that sung the French revolution into Bristol. The whole performance was of a high standard, the costumes were vibrant, the acting was brilliant and the stage set was cleverly constructed.** To mention a few favourite moments: the ‘master o’ the ‘ouse’ was so creepy that I deeply regretted making fleeting eye-contact with the seditious and over-eyebrowed character, Jean Valjean’s falsetto gave me goosebumps and, finally, Fantine’s (*spolier alert*) deathbed scene was so sad and so poignantly played I think it could be said that: of dry eyes in that place, there were none. Well done to everyone involved – truly a night to remember!
* Interesting info: this musical play was created by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg, based on the novel by Victor Hugo, written in the 1860s.
** Credit where credit is due – Stephanie Rees
Photograph used by permission.