Wakefield Youth Music Theatre members dazzle in schools edition of Les Miserables

James Bradshaw and Lauren Dickinson as Monsieur and Madame Thernardier
James Bradshaw and Lauren Dickinson as Monsieur and Madame Thernardier

Every time I go along to Theatre Royal Wakefield to see one of the Wakefield Youth Music Theatre’s productions I come away inspired, delighted and thrilled by the sheer talent displayed by the young actors.

The performance of Les Miserables (School Edition) last Friday was an absolute triumph and I had to metaphorically pinch myself at times to remember that everyone on stage was aged 18 and under.

For those who have never seen Les Miserables, or read Victor Hugo’s book, the story, set around the events of the 1832 Paris Uprising, follows redeemed convict Jean Valjean who is being hunted by the ruthless Inspector Javert for skipping bail.

Valjean’s life becomes entwined with that of unwed mother Fantine’s and, on her death he rescues her daughter Cosette from the Thenardiers, a pair of very unpleasant innkeepers who beat her and use her as a slave.

The songs from Les Miserables stand alone in their own right. Who, having heard it, can forget Susan Boyle’s version of I Dreamed A Dream,

Fantine’s lament from the first act, beautifully sung here by Isabel Hinchliffe?

Daniel Romano, making his Wakefield Youth Music Theatre debut, plays Jean Valjean with real depth and maturity and his beautifully crafted rendition of Bring Him Home, caused a few tears to be shed by more than me, I’ll bet.

The light relief in the first act comes from The Innkeeper’s Song, a jolly rollicking number with James Bradshaw and Lauren Dickinson playing the dastardly Thenardiers with superb comic timing. The rest of the cast get in on the action, the stage a riot of colour and twirling bodies.

This may be an amateur production by a group of nine-to 18-year-olds but it is as professional a production as I’ve ever seen. The stage, lighting, costumes and music are of a very high standard and the young performers can all be very proud of what they have achieved.

Until September 8. Box Office 01924 211311 or box.office@theatreroyalwakefield.co.uk