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Les Miserables

Mayhem performed Cameron Mackintosh's smash-hit musical Les Miserables over 4 nights in October 2017 to great local acclaim and recognition from NODA with nominations for Chris Bashford (Valjean) as "Best Performance in a Leading Role by a Performer Under the Age of 21," and Josh Morgan (Marius) and Grace Follows (Éponine) who were both nominated for "Best Supporting Performance by an Actor Under the Age of 21."  The production itself was been nominated for "Youth Production of the Year" and in the Stage and Technical Management categories.

The show took place at the Forest Theatre, Coleford with over 800 people coming to the show over the four performances.  Looking around the theatre there were times when there was barely a dry eye to be seen - Éponine's death at the barricade and Jean Valjean's rise to Glory particularly.  The show included final performances (due to being too old now!) for Dan Follows and Florence Mayo, who will be missed in future performances but not forgotten.  As many other members prepare to focus on exams we look forward to show-casing the talents of more of our group in 2018's performances of The Addams Family.

1815, Toulon.  The convict Jean Valjean has finished serving his time - five years for stealing a loaf of bread that became 19 years as he refused to accept his fate.  Supposedly a free man now, Valjean finds it impossible to leave his past as prisoner 24601 behind him and is unable to find work.  The Bishop of Digne offers him food and lodging and Valjean repays his kindness by cynically stealing the good Bishop's silver.  When caught and confronted by the Gendarmes Valjean is spared by the Bishop who says it was a gift.


Racked with guilt, tortured by remorse for his actions and influenced by the Bishop's kind words, Valjean vows to leave his old life behind completely and become a good and honest man.  He uses the Bishop's silver to become a kindly factory owner and town mayor with many people looking to him and owing him their livelihoods.  But life is still hard and the fate of Fantine highlights the plight of the workers - she works to pay for her daughter's keep who lives with an innkeeper and his family but still cannot make ends meet.  She is accused by co-workers of being a prostitute, is sacked and her life goes from worse to worst until she dies, leaving Valjean to look after her daughter, Cosette.

But Valjean's past cannot be evaded forever - he broke parole to change his stars and is finally tracked down by Inspector Javert - his gaoler in Toulon.  On the run again, Valjean seeks to escape with Cosette but becomes embroiled in the June Rebellion of 1832 where Parisian students sought to reverse the establishment of the July Monarchy.   Inspector Javert attempts to betray the students but is captured and would have been killed but for Valjean, who lets him go free.  

In the ensuing battle, all the students die except injured Marius Pontmercy, who is in love with Cosette and is saved by Valjean.  Valjean escapes with Marius into the sewers but is pursued by Javert.  Valjean is confronted for a final time and is surprisingly allowed to escape by a Javert who is clearly wrestling with his conscience over being freed by Valjean. Unable to reconcile the fact that he owes his life to Valjean (scum, a criminal in his eyes), Javert commits suicide rather than live in debt to Valjean.

As Marius recovers his health and prepares to marry Cosette, Valjean's increasing frailty begins to get the better of him and he prepares to make his peace with God.  Afraid that his past will one day be found out and affect Cosette's life he tells Marius everything and begs him to take care of Cosette and never let her know.  As his story ends, Valjean is reunited with Fantine and the good people he has known to take him into God's Glory.

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