It’s the top of Les Misérables. The lights dim, silence stretches through the audience, and a powerful blow of orchestration begins. From the very first sounds, you can tell you’re about to witness a musical behemoth. And this national tour of the show, while not quite reaching enough emotional grit during a few songs, delivers a satisfying universal epicness.
The visuals of this particular production excel. With Victor Hugo’s artwork as the inspiration for the set, every major scene is staged and lit as though it’s a painting; something you’d see at The National Gallery of Art. I loved watching the blends of shadows and colors harmoniously highlight the actors and absorb the audience into 19th century France.
As with any version of this show, the mighty ensemble numbers resonate with spirit. I felt chills when the cast members sang “One Day More” and the finale’s reprise of “The People’s Song.”
These giant numbers fill the stage with waves of vigor and are quintessentially Les Miz.
Iconic character songs, however, range from breathtaking to so-so. One of the best being “Stars,” sung by understudy Andrew Love, an intense Javert. He emotes a gradual build through the song and finishes it off with a fierce last note.
Then there are performances like Melissa Mitchell’s (Fantine) “I Dreamed a Dream.” Her singing is precise and pretty, but the song yearns for grit. In fact, there are a couple of numbers missing that grit; songs that are polished, but lack the rawness of characters going through struggle.
Nevertheless, powerful performances outweigh the okay ones. Nick Cartell plays a youthful Jean Valjean and successfully showcases the character’s growth. His rendition of “Who Am I?” did not disappoint. Allison Guinn’s Madame Thenardier uproariously portrays the character as a bullish, lowlife, Ms. Hannigan type, and it absolutely works. She’s a joy to watch, especially during “Master of the House.”
closes January 7, 2018
Details and tickets
I already mentioned Love once, but the actor’s Javert garners a written encore. The way he vocally and physically portrays the police inspector’s descent into madness is captivating.
There’s a reason why Les Miz has been seen by over 70 million people worldwide. A reason why Émile Bayard’s illustration of young Cosette is etched into the minds of theatre-goers. It’s a thunderous musical that leaves audiences clapping until their hands go numb. Even with a few unremarkable moments, this touring production is still a robust tidal wave of theatre.
Les Misérables by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg. Featuring John Ambrosino, Robert Ariza, Daniel Berryman, Phoenix Best, Felipe Barbosa Bombonato, Gabriel Sidney Brown, Jillian Butler, Julie Cardia, Nick Cartell, Sarah Cetrulo, Jordan Cole, Amelia Cormack, J Anthony Crane, Steve Czarnecki, Julia Rose Di Piazza, Josh Davis, Nicholas Edwards, Caitlin Finnie, Zoe Glick, Joshua Grosso, Allison Guinn, Michelle Beth Herman, Monté J. Howell, Sophie Knapp, Julian Emile Lerner, Andrew Love, Maggie Elizabeth May, Melissa Mitchell, Matt Moisey, Mary Kate Moore, Talia Simone Robinson, Mike Schwitter, Matt Shingledecker, Liz Shivener, Brett Stoelker, Danielle J. Summons, Kyle Timson, and Christopher Viljoen. Based on the novel by Victor Hugo. Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg. Lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer. Original French text by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel. Additional material by James Fenton. Adaptation by Trevor Nunn and John Caird. Original orchestrations by John Cameron. New orchestrations by Christopher Jahnke, Stephen Metcalfe, and Stephen Brooker. Musical staging by Michael Ashcroft and Geoffrey Garratt. Projections realized by Fifty-Nine Productions. Sound by Mick Potter. Lighting by Paule Constable. Costume design by Andreane Neofitou and Christine Rowland. Set and image design by Matt Kinley. Inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo. Directed by Laurence Connor and James Powell. Casting: Tara Rubin Casting/Kaitlin Shaw, CSA. General management: Gregory Vander Ploeg for Gentry and Associates. Executive Producers: Nicholas Allott and Seth Sklar-heyn for Cameron Mackintosh Inc. Executive producers: Seth Wenig and Trinity Wheeler for NETworks Presentations. Associate sound designer: Nic Gray. Associate costume designer: Laura Hunt. Associate lighting designer: Richard Pacholski. Associate set designers: David Harris and Christine Peters. Resident director: Liam McIlwain. Musical director: Brian Eads. Musical supervision: Stephen Brooker and James Dodgson. Associate conductor/keyboards: Eric Ebbenga. Assistant conductor/keyboards: Evan Roider. Violin/concertmaster: Danielle Guilini. Viola: Sarah Haines. Cello Jeanette Stenson. Bass: Brad Lovelace. Flute/piccolo/alto flute/recorder: Hilary Jones. Oboe/core anglais: Kathy Halvorson. Clarinet in Bb/clarinet in Eb/bass clarinet/recorder: Peter Scuderi. Horn 1: Meredith Moore. Horn 2: Todd Leighton. Trumpet in Bb/flugelhorn/piccolo trumpet: Josh Norton. Bass trombone/tuba: Jack Noble. Drums/percussion/mallets/timpani: Jared Soldiviero. Music coordinator: John Miller. Associate director: Corey Agnew. A Cameron Mackintosh and Networks Presentation. Reviewed by Emily Priborkin.