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LES MISERABLES presented by Broadway in Cincinnati through May 13. You can read the show description here.
A quick note: I did see the original tour twice at the Taft Theatre a quarter century ago. My memory is a bit fuzzy so I won’t get too specific about changes in the anniversary tour.
Well, THAT would be the reason the TV version couldn’t hold my attention. Nothing compares to the power of the sound in a live performances of LES MISERABLES. And that is certainly what the orchestra and the large, talented ensemble delivers.
Musically and vocally it sounds fantastic. Every member of the ensemble was working hard, offering great character work and vocals. The leads were strong performers as well. Personal favorites included Peter Lockyer as Jean Valjean (who’s BRING HIM HOME stopped the show), Betsy Morgan as Fantine, Max Quinlan (CCM MT ’10) as Marius and [confirming young actor’s name] as Gavroche.
Where the original tour relied mainly on a turn-table and pieces for the set, the anniversary tour features two large (and long) multi-level trucks on each side of the stage and numerous other components that roll and fly in. You can’t help but wonder where they are storing it all off stage.
A major component to this set is the background projections used throughout the production. It is very successful when used to transition from scene to scene. Some of the changes from one scene into another are so subtle you don’t notice the process. Projection movement was used to great effect for the sewer scenes, but the street scene’s moving effect looked a little choppy. My guest reminded me that the original run used projections to display date and location changes, and she missed that information in this production.
Opening night did have a few hiccups. Nadine Malouf in the role of Eponine struggled with high notes in ON MY OWN (though the rest of the song and A LITTLE FALL OF RAIN were wonderful). Also a light at the audience right proscenium (usually used when there are sign-language interpreters) suddenly lit during a scene.
Overall, LES MISERABLES is a treat for the eyes and ears and a great reunion with some old friends. Fans and first-timers should find much to enjoy.
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