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do you hear the people sing? : a memorable experience

Les Miserables and Miss Saigon, both the work of Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil, are, unquestionably, jewels in the crown of musical theatre. However, to present the bare songs from these musicals, devoid of their wonderful plots, large supporting casts and their incredible productions,  together with a sprinkling of songs from other works by the duo, must give rise to some misgivings, for the parts could not possibly be as good as the whole.
Yet, when all of those songs are presented by six, truly great singers, who obviously like each other and interact accordingly, who each  also give a brief, interesting background to each piece, and who are backed up by an excellent twenty- five member orchestra as well as a talented twelve person ensemble of singers and evocative lighting, in the soaring, newly renovated Concert Hall of the Opera House, then such doubts can be flung aside!

For Boublil and Schonberg’s DO YOU HEAR THE PEOPLE SING? is a joyous theatrical experience which will long live in the memories of those fortunate enough to have seen it. The songs are well-chosen and superbly sung, made even more evocative by the wonderful ensemble and orchestra. There are comedic moments, even some Irish dancing!. The highlights, for this reviewer, were “Bui Doi”,  sung with heartfelt emotion by John Owen- Jones and “The American Dream”, presented by an irrepressible Bobby Fox, from Miss Saigon, together with “Master of the House”, jointly and joyfully sung by Bobby  Fox, Rachel Tucker and the ensemble, from Les Miserables. All, however, would agree that the emotionally charged “Bring Him Home”, from Les Miserables, sung exquisitely by John Owen-Jones, David Harris and Michael Ball, and the wondrous combination of parts of the songs in that show in “One Day More”, presented so enthusiastically by the whole company, were unique, judging by the standing ovations each received.
One flaw was that the orchestra was at the same level as the singers instead of being in an orchestra pit and, consequently, at rare times. competed with them. That criticism, however, is probably uncalled for, as having the Concert Hall as the venue prevented any other position for the orchestra, and the Hall is the true home– for this magnificent musical experience.
That is how best to describe “Do You Hear the People Sing”. It indeed left the audience singing, not out loud, but in their hearts.
Review by Ron Desiatnik
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