An updated classic
Tahoe Players kicks some community theater butt with its latest production – the classic “Les Misérables.” This enthralling tale of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption is entirely sung and requires impressive vocal pyrotechnics on behalf of the cast. Director Lily Baran, granddaughter of Tahoe Players founder Monica Folio, continues the legacy set forth in presenting professional productions with local community members and this production does not disappoint.
Backed by a full orchestra, comprised of professional players from the area and conducted by Jane Brown, the production features actors from Tahoe, Carson and Reno. After successful runs at Village Green and John Ascuaga’s Nugget, the production is set for its final performance on the Sand Harbor stage.
Epic, grand and uplifting, “Les Misérables” packs an emotional wallop. With an updated setting, it is the story of Jean Valjean, a peasant of abnormal physical and moral strength and his never-ending quest for redemption. After serving 19 years in jail for having stolen a loaf of bread for starving relatives, Valjean decides to break his parole and start his life anew, but he is relentlessly tracked down by a police inspector named Javert. Along the way, Valjean and his cohorts get swept into a revolutionary period, where a group of young idealists make their last stand at a street barricade.
This production, which is double and triple cast, will feature the all-stars for the Sand Harbor show. All the actors have tremendous stamina and outstanding voices and are a cut well above the average community theater cast. In addition, because of its musical content, it is imperative the lyric is communicated clearly. The cast does an excellent job of this.
There are several numbers that are showstoppers, including the comical “Master of the House,” performed by the unscrupulously smarmy Monsieur Thenardier. One of the few roles single cast, Jeff Chamberlin brings an unsavory and yet likeable flavor to the role. Accompanied by Incline’s Karen Osborne as one of the Madame Thenardiers, they make the perfect, slimy comedic couple.
Former Tahoe Biltmore hotel manager Caleb Dixon as one of the Javerts brings presence and energy to the role and, even though he is the bad guy, manages to add humanity to the character. When he sings “Stars,” he brings the house down with his passion.
Sharing the lead role of Jean Valjean are Matt Wilkerson and Michael Jackson. Both fit the classic hero bill well – a character that is redeemed from a life of crime by the intervention of others, and through his own commitment and courage attains both worldly success and moral virtue. The first act finale of “One Day More” is a powerhouse of emotion and hope and with Wilkerson or Jackson at the helm it is a strong closer.
Tahoe Players has proven that they have the mettle to present a production of Broadway quality and the sold out houses until this point are evidence of such. Monica Folio would be proud.
Tahoe Players’ production of “Les Misérables” plays Sand Harbor on Monday, Aug. 19, at 7:30 p.m. For more information, visit laketahoeshakespeare.com. For more information on Tahoe Players, visit tahoeplayers.org.
Monday, Aug. 19 | 7:30 p.m. | $25-$80 | All ages | Sand Harbor | Incline Village,