A haunting re-telling of a Broadway classic, the current staging of Les Misérables embodies all the aspects of the show that fans love with a rawness that adds a new perspective.
Throughout 25+ years and many adaptations, Les Misérables remains a beloved musical. With the newest Broadway revival gracing the Imperial Theatre’s stage, an entirely new generation of theatre-goers get to experience the sweeping music, powerhouse vocals, and moving story.
I was thoroughly impressed and moved to tears during a recent Saturday matinée performance, and here are just a few reasons why:
- MUSIC AND LYRICS: Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil’s tremendous score and profound lyrics lives with you long after the curtain closes. This treasured musical makes in indelible impression on not only the performers but the audience, due in large part to the incredible music. The melodies float as needed, like during the instrumental “Bring Him Home” reprise in Act Two. The stunning harmonies of “Turning” echo the voices of not only those lost but of the ones left behind.
- VOCALS: The music of Les Misérables demands incredible vocal prowess. You must be able to do justice to the beautiful yet powerful melodies while infusing emotion into the meaningful story. Each cast member, principal and ensemble, achieves that and much more. Just try not to cry during “Bring Him Home” or sympathize with his plight during “Who Am I”. Bring a sweater, because you’ll get chills when Caissie Levy belts out “I Dreamed a Dream”. When Will Swenson sings “Stars”, you understand what motivates Javert while also fully aware of his tormented soul.
- GIFTED ARTISTS: If you are well-versed (pun intended) in musical theatre talent, then you’re already familiar with some of the gifted performers. The following actors excel in their craft, creating performances that are both memorable and heartfelt: On the day I saw this show, the Jean Valjean understudy, Aaron Walpole went on in the starring role and was tremendous. Given Aaron’s phenomenal job, I’m look forward to seeing Les Miz again to experience Ramin Karimloo’s award-winning interpretation of Valjean. Will Swenson’s Javert embodies anger, righteous determination, and a conflicted soul, all of which this well-respected artist handles with ease and talent. Caissie Levy breaks your heart as she balances Fantine’s unwavering love for her daughter and determination to keep fighting. Nikki M. James’ exquisite range is on display in her role as Éponine. She grabs hold of Éponine’s fiery personality, infusing fragility, tenderness, and selfless love to this iconic role. As Marius, Andy Mientus takes us on a journey of self-discovery. Marius’ youthful energy, adventurous side, and naïveté early on brings home the severity of what’s to follow. When Marius is thrust into situations that require him to re-examine his beliefs and what’s worth fighting for, we believe his plight due to Andy’s adept handling of the role. Remember the names of Keala Settle (Madame Thénardier) and Samantha Hill (Cosette), as these two talented actresses will both surprise and impress. The ensemble cast members enrich the production with subtle nuances and powerful moments, adding depth to each scene. Pay close attention to the student rebel scenes, as these young men are both impressive and heartbreaking.
- STORY: Based on Victor Hugo’s novel of the same name, this musical is not only a story about forgiveness and redemption but one about love. Whether that love takes shape in the form of friendship (rebels), family (Fantine/Jean Valjean/Cosette), or romantic entanglement (Éponine/Marius/Cosette), love guides the actions and intentions of the characters. As we sit in the audience, we’re invited to examine our own choices and perspective. Do we choose hate instead of love? Do we reach out to those in need or pass judgment? Are our decisions based on a need for power and control, or are they guided by love for ourselves and others?
As soon as the lights dimmed and the familiar opening chords reverberated through the room, I smiled. This amazing theatrical work affects me not only on a musical level but a spiritual one as well. I venture to guess that many of you would say the same. You may have seen the 2012 film version or saw Les Misérables during an earlier run, but I recommend experiencing this modern stage telling of Victor Hugo’s novel.
*DISCLAIMER: I do not have affiliation with any of the afore-mentioned talent or anyone associated with this production. No endorsement by the artists or musical mentioned is implied! I’m simply singing their praises!*
One thought on “Musical Theatre Review: Les Misérables”
Les Mis is a musical that takes you on a spiritual journey filled with memorable characters and songs. The songs perfectly all of that