March 14, 2011
Les Miserables has long been a favorite of theatre-goers and this 25th anniversary production is a beautiful reminder of why. There’s a reason that numbers like “I Dreamed A Dream” and “One Day More” have become beloved Broadway standards. The musical’s unique operatic feel speaks to audiences of all ages.
Jean Valjean, the show’s main character, provides a story of hope and redemption. After spending 19 years in jail for committing a crime of desperation, Valjean is released. He struggles to readjust to society and finds himself a recipient of prejudice everywhere he goes. One man gives him acceptance when he needs it the most and because of that single act Valjean’s life is changed forever.
From a rollicking tavern to a barricade on the front lines of the revolution to a haunting trek through the sewers of Paris, the story weaves together the lives of Valjean, the unfortunate Fantine and the righteous police officer Javert. Each characters gives us a distinct look at the different paths people take in life.
Les Miserables presents a complicated tapestry of characters, each representing a different element in society. The selfish, conniving Thenardier’s are wonderfully villainous, while Cosette is the picture of innocence. There are those who fight for what’s right, those who bemoan their fate; others who needlessly persecute the less fortunate and still others who chose forgiveness when revenge would be easier. My favorite character has always been the tragic Eponine, a tough, self-sufficient girl who hides her love and allows her heart to break. Her song, “On My Own,” sung by Chasten Harmon, captures pain and devotion in equal measures.
The original music and lyrics, by Claude-Michel Schonberg and Herbert Kretzmer, give voice to Victor Hugo’s powerful tale. The elaborate new set design, created by Matt Kinley, was inspired by Hugo’s own paintings. These elements combine, along with performances by talented actors, to create a poignant musical worth seeing again and again.
Louisville is a short 2 hour drive down I-65, yet somehow it’s a city I rarely visit. I saw this particular show, presented by Broadway Across America’s (BAA), at The Kentucky Center in Louisville and was impressed by both the beautiful theatre and the city. Check out BAA's future shows there, including the upcoming Shrek the Musical on stage at the Kentucky Center from June 7 – 12.
Les Miserables will be in Indianapolis from April 10-15, 2012 as part of BAA’s new season. To see the rest of the new season, visit their website.
Photos Courtesy of Broadway Across America