|Les Mis-OneDayMore. Photo: MatthewMurphy|
By Lauren Yarger
What's It All About?
The return of Les Mis, following an absence from Broadway. While the show, a long time staple of Broadway theater was gone from the Great White Way, a new re-staged version of the show began touring to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Claude Michel Schonberg musical. Directed by Laurence Connor and James Powell, it eliminates the rotating stage, scales back the barricade, eliminates some of the original 3-hour-plus story with new orchestrations (by Christopher Jahnke, Stephen Metcalfe and Stephen Brooker) and incorporates original paintings by author Victor Hugo as part of the set (Matt Kinley design), enhanced by video projections designed by Fifty Nine Productions and lighting by Paul Constable. A movie version took Hollywood by storm (sorry, I had no desire to watch it after hearing a small part from the soundtrack) and finally, it's back where it should be: on a Broadway stage.
What are the Highlights?
- That score! Schonberg's operetta contains nothing but great songs we love to hear over and over, like "On My Own," "I Dreamed a Dream," "One Day More," "A Heart Full of Love," "A Little Fall of Rain," and more. Lyrics by Herbert Krtezmer )original French by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel) continue to move.
- Ramin Karimloo stars as Jean Valjean -- and he sounds a lot like Colm Wilkinson, who originated the role, so if you have been listening to the original soundtrack for the last 25 years (or you've recently started listening to it after watching the movie and wondering what the vocals SHOULD sound like), you're in for a treat with him. "Bring Him Home" was as near perfect as I ever have heard it. Prayerful, it teared us up, brought goosebumps and stopped the show. The scene where the bishop gives the candle sticks also was brilliantly played.
- Cliff Saunders and Keala Settle steal the show as the repulsive Thenardier and his wife, parents of young Eponine and guardians of young Cosette (both roles are shared by (Angeli Negron/McKayla Twiggs). Settle is a study in fine acting, whether taking center stage or reacting in the background. "Master of the House" is a lot of fun.
- Little Gavroche (Joshua Colley/Gaten Matarazzo). I saw Colley who lit up the stage and engaged the audience with every word and gesture. Best death scene ever.
- Will Swenson is the relentless Javert and brings a lovely singing voice to "The Stars."
What are the Lowlights?
- Nikki M James is miscast as Eponine. Her voice seems a bit higher than we expect for the role and she doesn't quite look comfortabe in the part. There's also no chemistry with Marius (Andy Mientus). Liked him with his true love, though: Cosette (a beautifully sopranoed Samantha Hill).
- I saw Negron as young Cosette. She sang "Castle on a Hill" well, but still needs to develop acting skills.
- Probably the biggest disappointment was Caissie Levy's Fantine. Songs are delivered as performances, not as heartfelt depictions of the character's experience. Style rather than soul.
- Don't miss it. Especially if you never have seen Les Mis on stage. It plays at the Imperial Theatre, 249 west 45th St., NYC. http://www.lesmis.com/broadway/.
Christian might also like to know:
-- When it comes to a Christian message on a Broadway stage, you can't beat Les Mis. Forgiveness, redemption, helping your fellow man, living a life for God -- they're all in there.
-- Lord's name taken in vain.
-- Sexual situations