I have not had my usual time to write reviews, but I could not let the opportunity pass to give a shout out to the completely sold out Florence Little Theatre Production of “Les Miserables.” I have seen the traveling production, and was very nervous about this show coming to Florence. Would we do it justice? Could we– the small city of Florence, SC– pull off this big show?
After seeing the show on opening night, the answer is a resounding “YES.” Florence Little Theatre staff and volunteers can do anything they set their mind to do. How could I even question this? The runtime is about three hours, but I can truly say that even ADHD Flossip never once felt tired or wanted to leave.
Julia Saverance masterfully directs an all star cast to new heights with this performance. Roger Kirby traveled from Lake City to audition as Jean Valjean and is a welcome visitor to the FLT stage. He manages to truly embody his character and evokes emotion from start to finish. If you look at the end, he has a single tear running down his cheek as he sings his goodbye.
A newcomer to Florence Little Theatre is Timothy Kelly as Javert. Kelly has been driving to Florence from Conway for months- truly committed to this role. He never breaks character, and my favorite part is when he and Valjean have a dueling duet. Javert is such a complex character to understand, and Kelly allows us to see how he is motivated and what drives him.
The list continues with Blake Graham (Marius) and Cole Davis (Enjolras). They help the audience to feel and understand their youthful passion. You will laugh and cry with them and for them as the play unfolds. I am not going to lie to all of you, when Happy Pendegraft (the Bishop) sings, I get a little weak in my knees. I am a sucker for a deep voice!
The female roles (all the “Lovely Ladies”) in this show are superbly cast. Arlene Boyd, an FLT veteran, is a beautiful and talented Fantine. Her dedication to this role included chopping her long hair off so that she would actually have short hair for the part! Bree Boyce (our own Ms. South Carolina!) does a lovely job as Eponine. I had tears in my eyes when… oops… can’t spoil the show! Anna Lyles joined the cast as Cosette. Her voice is absolutely beautiful– it is amazing the notes that she is able to hit. Little Cosette is played by Abby Greenwood, and I could listen to her sweet voice for hours. She does a superb job as Little Cossette and Amelia Whitehead is delightful as Little Eponine. RJ Lee is heartbreakingly good as Gavroche. There are so many members of the chorus that stand out in my mind, I can not highlight them all and it would be unfair to pick one or two. I can tell you that the culmination of their voices is an uplifting experience in and of itself.
Last but not least… the slimy, the dirty, the hysterical…Thernardiers. Played by Rebecca Thompson and Glen Gourley, they provide comic relief that will have you falling out of your chair. They both took these roles and absolutely ran away with them! (If you know Rebecca, you will not recognize her if you do not know her character.)
Every single member of the chorus helps add something special and important to the show. There are both FLT veterans as well as newcomers in the chorus. Hearing them sing in unison is breathtaking. This production would not be what it is without scores of volunteers. The lighting, crew, props,costumers, orchestra, actors… these people are donating 30 hours and more of their time week in and week out to bring this show to Florence. Florence Little Theatre is the first community theatre in South Carolina to show the production. When you see someone involved in the show– thank them for their time and efforts.
(The News Journal article has a more complete cast list.)