Remember the true words that were spoken, to love another person is to see this face of God. Les Miserables the Broadway blockbuster that has been deemed as The worlds most popular musical.
Sixteen years on Broadway. Eight Tony Awards. A recent film adaptation starring Hugh Jackman. What makes this musical so popular? How does it reach such a wide range of people to the point where an additional performance needed to be added to this touring casts itinerary? (Les Miz closed its run at Belk Theater on Feb. 17.)
For some, it may be the beautiful score, with acclaimed numbers such as I Dreamed a Dream, On My Own, and Bring Him Home that have become go-to audition songs for aspiring actors everywhere. Composers Claude-Michel Schonberg and Herbert Kretzmer have presented a score that not only moves audiences with touching and deep lyrics, but also through the astounding vocal ranges that each song requires.
Others may be moved by the touching story of a felon who finds redemption through an act of kindness, which leads him to adopt a suffering child who changes his life in ways he could not have imagined.
A show with a reputation such as this automatically places all the actors in high expectations, and this cast is also put up for comparisons against the Tom Hooper film cast (among which are Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman, who have already won Golden Globes and are both nominated for Oscars for their performances in the film). However, some actors in this production are arguably better than those in the movie. Russell Crowe could afford to take a note or two from Andrew Varela (Javert), whose rendition of Stars had the audience clapping before Varela could even finish his final note.
Peter Lockyer also did not disappoint with his portrayal of protagonist Jean Valjean. However, the show stealers were Briana Carlson-Goodman (Eponine) and Genevieve Leclerc (Fantine). Both actresses had the difficult task of performing two of the shows most famous numbers, but their wide vocal range had the audience in tears.
Lauren Wiley (Cosette) was able to gracefully glide over difficult high notes that blended well with Devin Ilaws (Marius), who also gave an impressive performance. Shawna M. Hamic (Madame Thenardier) and Timothy Gulan (Thenardier) added a perfect touch of comic relief that was needed to add balance to such a deep and emotional story.
From a technical standpoint, this production has a breath-taking set, with scene changes that move quickly and seamlessly. However, this show is poorly lit, making the entire show a bit too dark. The use of a bright LCD screen provided a realistic effect that added to some scenes namely Look Down and Stars, but became a bit unnecessary in numbers such as Dog Eat Dog.
While this show is widely successful, the use of solely musical numbers to tell the story makes it a bit hard to follow the storyline, and those who are not familiar with the show may find themselves a bit lost. Otherwise, those who know the story well will be moved by the strong performances and classic score that has been a staple in the musical theatre world for 26 years.
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