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RHS senior dramatists shine in 'Les Miserables'

May 23, 2013 - By Robert H. Peck, Staff Writer

The Riverton High School drama club's spring musical performance of Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables" opens Thursday in the Robert A. Peck Arts Center Theater at Central Wyoming College. The show, which will run at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, features final performances by a gifted group of seniors.

The main story follows reformed convictJean Valjean (played by senior Jace Flannagan), who becomes a force for good in the world but cannot escape his criminal past. Pursued for years by the dogmatic Inspector Javert (senior Sean Thornton), Valjean flees from city to city under various assumed identities to protect Cosette (senior Asia Carr as an adult, third-grader Carly Thornton as a child), the daughter of a factory worker who gave Valjean custody of Cosette before her death.

Coming so soon after the recent film adaptation, RHS's choice of production is an ambitious one, a choice that rounds off a spectacular career for the graduating seniors. Their experience transfers well to "Les Mis," with several notable performances complimented by what are easily among the best company vocals RHS has ever produced. Special note must be given to senior Annie Phister's portrayal of Fantine, the poor worker and mother of Cosette. Though Fantine scarcely captures 20 minutes of on-stage time, her song "I Dreamed a Dream" is one of the most powerful and difficult arrangements in the show, and Phister carries it with subtle beauty. Flanagan, too, is worthy of praise, as his demanding role requires him to portray Valjean at nearly every stage of his life.

Indeed, very few cast members disappoint. Carr's role carries her voice farther into the soprano than anyone else, a duty she handles with grace, while Thornton's much lower bass throws the conflicted interworkings of Javert into harsh relief. Cosette's revolutionary romantic interest, Marius (sophomore Andrew Thornton), and revolutionary leader Enjolras (senior Thomas Boyd), both capture the tempestuous emotions of panic and hope sweeping through France in a time of instability, while seasoned dramatist Jaden Brummond, so often the tragic lead, reprises the role with gusto yet again as Marius' hopeless friend and would-be lover.

In addition to performance value they bring, Andrew Thornton and Shannon Linch also worked together on the show's costume design, bringing together outfits from past shows and new acquisitions to create a well-dressed ensemble.

Though "Les Mis" is undoubtedly one of the most challenging performances RHS has undertaken in recent memory, director Annette Thornton and her skilled students have delivered yet again. Whether you go for the history, the tech, or just to see one last hurrah from an experienced and gifted senior class, this year's spring musical is definitely worth a visit.

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