Spring Musical Les Miserables an impressive production

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Kristina Wyman's picture
Alexandra Caulway

Assumption College impressed audiences with the annual Spring Musical, Les Misérables, at Hanover Theatre in Worcester, Mass. this past weekend. The cast featured a medley of talent from alumni, current students and local elementary and middle school students.
“It was a no-brainer because I heard the rights were being released and so I jumped on it,” said Director Brian Tivnan of the decision to perform this particular musical. The production involved about 80 people, with about 60 of those being current Assumption students. As of April 1, over 2,000 tickets to Les Misérables had been sold.
This production was Assumption’s first Spring Musical to have a complete crew of people working backstage. Stage Manager and Worcester State student Rachael Marz transferred from Assumption last semester, but Tivnan asked her to stay on for the Spring Musical.
“I couldn’t have asked for anything better from the production team and the build team,” said Marz. “To be a 19-year-old unprofessional stage manager managing the Hanover Theatre is a huge honor.”
Jim DiBonaventura, who has constructed all of the sets for Assumption’s Hanover productions, did set design and construction for this play. The set was enormous with huge amounts of fog done by professional foggers. Assumption junior Nicole Gamberale was choreographer, working out the movement for the show.
“All the principal characters are excellent vocally and acting wise. There’s a huge depth in this production that has been deeper than in any other production we’ve done. And that includes the alumnae, as well,” said Tivnan of the cast.
According to Tivnan, there are more men in Les Misérables than there have been in any other Assumption College production. Football players and seniors Matthew Colangelo and Michael Stuppiello made their acting debuts as members of the ensemble.

“I think it’s definitely a different experience than what we’re used to,” said Colangelo. “At first it was different walking into this kind of environment, but just everybody kind of accepted us and that’s something really cool. And working with theater people has been an enjoyable process.”

“Yeah, we’re used to football, you know, grinding hard, working hard,” added Stuppiello. “But now this is like a different stage for us.”

Assumption class of 2013 alumnus Matthew Angelini graced the stage in the lead role of Jean Valjean. “It is by far the most challenging role I have ever had to play,” said Angelini. “And definitely the most time-consuming when it comes to the whole process. I know that I’ve had to watch many other Valjean’s and take advice from people who are older than me, so I can kind of learn how to act older.”

Angelini worked with vocal coach Peggy Tartaglia for about eight months to prepare for this role. Since graduation, Angelini has been working as an instructional assistant at a special education school in West Boylston, where he gets to work with kids and sing.
Other lead roles include the characters of Fantine, Javert, Marius and Madame and Master Thénardier. Michael Gondek, Assumption class of 1994, portrayed Javert.

“The role itself is one of those bucket list roles,” said Gondek. “Javert is a really strong character who really does struggle with right and wrong. The easy explanation is that he’s the bad guy, but all he wants is order. All he wants is justice.”

Assumption junior Matthew Mariner took on the role of Marius. “He’s grown a lot, especially in his singing voice, this past year,” said Tivnan. “[Marius] is a very difficult role, but he does good justice to it.”

“[The whole cast] is really operating on a professional level,” Tivnan added. “The people who are in this show feel that this is the best show ever, that this is the best show they could ever be a part of. I think that’s happened all across the country.”

Junior Allison Baxter, who played Fantine, felt the power of the musical and also the difficulties of her role. “It was definitely a challenge for me,” she said. “This is only the second production I’ve ever done. It was exciting to kind of grow into the role and find out more about the character that I didn’t know before.”

Audience members were impressed with the acting, vocals and set of the show.

“I’ve been a fan of Les Mis for a long time and it was great to see my college perform it,” said sophomore Erin Ziomek. “Everyone was wonderful and their performances were moving.”

Jennifer McLain of Terryville, Conn. visited Worcester to see the production with her sister, senior Melissa McLain.

“The production of Les Mis was wonderfully brilliant,”she said. “I couldn’t help but sing along with the cast. I loved it, especially the ‘One More Day’ song.”

This musical is one that inspires passion through it’s score of emotional music and heartbreaking scenes, wowing crowds from the Broadway stage and beyond.

“Every song is like an anthem. Every song is big song. Even if it’s a soft one, it’s a big one. And you put that all together, and you have this sort of epic show that covers a huge span of time,” said Tivnan. “They all move me to tears, in a good way.”

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