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UDT does justice to broadway’s renowned production

Michaela Roman

Patience is a virtue, and the UTEP Dinner Theatre proved this to be true when they finally got the extraordinary opportunity to stage the premier of Victor Hugo’s novel “Les Misérables.”

The atmosphere was filled with excitement as the audience waited anxiously in the lobby for the clock to strike seven so they could make their entrance into the theater—the place where goose bumps would be raised and constant aweing would echo just a few seconds after the curtains were lifted.

It’s no surprise to say that “Les Misérables” has captured audiences’ hearts around the world, with Herbert Ketzmer and Claude-Michel Schonberg’s heartfelt music and lyrics.

That would be the least you could say about El Paso audiences reaction to the UTEP Dinner Theatre cast and crew’s extraordinary job on the renowned and highly
acclaimed production.

The audience members were at the edge of their seats as they witnessed the curtains go up and saw the beautifully decorated and innovative set that was displayed before their eyes.

Every set change throughout the play was done very smoothly. Set designer Michael Spence and video/sound designer Don Cieslik did a remarkable job considering the theater’s limited space. It was impressive to see how much work and effort was put into each and every set, prop, curtain drop and costume.

After waiting 28 years to have the approval to stage “Les Misérables,” UDT lost no time in planning the idea on how to stage this production. A lot of thought put into this by Director Greg Taylor and the team in order to share this production in the best light possible. The execution was done very meticulously, considering the adaptation and modification the show had to undergo.

The cast is a very dedicated and versatile group of people, including current UTEP students, alumni, fans of the show and kids, who were cast for the roles of young Eponine, Cosette and Gavroche.

Jean Valjean, who was played by Joe Estala, interpreted every song with emotion and made our hearts stop with his two-octave-range falsetto at the end of “Bring Him Home.” He brought the audience to complete silence, which was followed by a much earned round of applause. He demonstrated his range of voice through every song and his acting was just as versatile and engaging to watch.

Josey Mitchell, who has been involved in various productions at the UDT, played the important role of Fantine. She gave a very heartfelt performance throughout the show. As she began “I Dreamed a Dream,” the clarity of her voice and interpretation made the audience shiver.

Being a sung-through musical, Patricia Ann Provencio, musical director, had the very complex task of directing the live orchestra through a variety of overlapping duets such as “The Confrontation” and “In My Life,” as well as songs such as “One Day More,” which was reprised on various melodies and involved the entire cast. Provencio did a phenomenal job overall that the orchestra sounded identical to that of the original score and had such a clear sound that the audience wondered if it
was a pre-recording.

However, there were some instances where the entire cast could have been a stronger group when interpreting such powerful and inspiring songs like “One Day More” and “Do You Hear the People Sing.” They lacked just a little bit more of a courageous stage presence. Although, the blocking might have contributed to this factor, the cast shined through with their satisfying singing ability.

Everyone one involved in the musical gave a stellar singing performance. From Enjolras and the army students’ interpretation of “Red and Black” (played by Ricardo Parra) to Marius’s touching song—played extraordinarily by Thaelon Stonecipher—“Empy Chairs and Empty Tables,” who sang it an octave higher when it reached the climax of the melody.

Eponine’s much awaited, “On My Own,” was played by Avery Segapeli, where she interpreted the songs with much ease.

A pinch of more sadness in her voice and exasperation in her interpretation would have been nice to witness, but overall her performance was as emotional.

Javert was brilliantly played by Jaime Barba (who was also costume designer) who made him very believable and gave him a very evil character development that he continued to demonstrate throughout the show until his last soliloquy. Despite him having some minor problems keeping up with the orchestra, he didn’t lose focus on his
overall performance.

The cast demonstrated a top act and character growth throughout the entire show. The Thérnadiers, played by Selena Stair and Danny Lopez, had fantastic moments of pure comedy that forced the entire audience to stop eating their delicious dessert to properly laugh.

The audience enjoyed a very tasty menu that included a French onion soup, chicken Marsala as the main entreé complimented with potatoes au gratin, French-style green beans, croissant dinner rolls and the tasty chocolate éclair for dessert.

“Les Miserables” has extended its showing until May 25, because of the positive feedback from the audience. No matter if you are a fan of Hugo’s masterpiece or not, take the opportunity to become part of this great show, as it will leave you in awe and flabbergasted with the immense talent you will witness.

Andrea Acosta may be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Michaela Roman
Michaela Roman, Editor-in-Chief
Michaela is a Senior Digital Media Production major at The University of Texas at El Paso. As the Editor-in-Chief, and former Photo Editor of The Prospector, she has learned to stay organized, manage a staff of writers and photographers, meet deadlines, cover events and network with others. She also has freelance experience and a personal photography business. Michaela aspires to work as an editor for a large media outlet and one day go to graduate school to teach photojournalism.
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UDT does justice to broadway’s renowned production