Friday October 20th 2017

” Les Miserables”

Highly Recommended**** It is hard to believe, after viewing “Les Miserables” as many times as I have, on large stages and small ( Marriott did a magnificent job in the round as the first regional theater to get the rights), that this legendary musical could be different and even better than prior productions, but it is! After 25 years, a new version, one that was reworked to have graphics that are astounding ( the sewer scene is absolutely amazing!) with scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo, author of the original work from which Boubilil and Schonberg worked their magic. While this production has been here recently, it seems even stronger after being on the road. Perhaps it is the strong cast gelling! Perhaps it is audiences love of the music and  the story of the survival of the human spirit despite all the setbacks thrown at it. Today, while we are facing many problems with the economy, health and politics, one needs to get the feeling of survival of our spirit and this production is about as uplifting as you can get.

There is not as much to say about a legendary musical with songs like “One Day More”, “Bring Him Home”, “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”, “Do You Hear The People Sing” and the comical “Master of The House”. Of course, this is a musical of music where the entire dialogue is sung, so we have almost 3 hours of music, but to be honest, the time just flew and the audience on this opening night, made up of all age groups did not want the play to end, despite the fact that the story was brought to an end. Other notable songs are “I Dreamed a Dream”, “On My Own” and of course Javert’s ( the officer who only wants to bring down our hero, Jean Valjean , fiercely played by Andrew Varela) “Stars” and his “Soliloquy”- WOW!. Most people know the names of Boublil and Schonberg, but are not aware that the lyrics are by Herbert Kretzmer. He deserves a great deal of credit.

The entire cast is made up of excellent voices. This is music that needs to have perfect voices to work and they have just that. Valjean is played to perfection by Peter Lockyer, who at first appeared to be slight of build and younger than normal, but grew into the role. His voice needed no growth as it was sheer magic from start to finish. Betsy Morgan is a wonderful Fantine and Cosette is deftly handled by the stunning  Lauren Wiley. Young Cosette ( who sings “Castle on a Cloud”) is played by  Erin Cearlock and Abbey Rose Gould, who also switch off playing young  Eponine. The adult Eponine is portrayed by Briana Carlson-Goodman, who is as beautiful as she is talented. The “Master of the House and his wife are played by Timothy Gulan and Shawna M. Hamic, who give their roles a little freshness. Marius, the love interest of both Eponime ( she loves him from afar) and Cosette ( he falls madly in love with her) is skillfully played by our own Max Quinlan ( winner of several Jeff Awards during his years in Chicago). His voice rings clear as always .

The students are great ensemble members with standouts, Weston Wells Olson, Joseph Spieldenner and Jason Forbach. The female voices are also strong and the number of charcaters they need to play with the costume changes are astounding. Ben Gunderson is the dance captain and Fight Captain for this touring production and his job is to keep the movement fresh as the performances mount up. The direction is that of Laurence Conor and James Powell, but while on the road it is the stage manager and Mr. Gunderson keeping it fresh. If you have seen Les Miz, you might want to see this new version, In fact, even if you have seen this version, you should see THIS version. If you have never seen “Les Miz”, isn’t time you do? With the new movie version about to his the screens, might I suggest you see it “live” before watching the big screen version. Movies are nice, but often, when taking a stage musical to film, in creating the actual circumstances, they take away our own imagination, which is one of the best ingredients of “live theater”.

The biggest problem with this production is that it will only be here through December 2nd with performances as follows:

Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m., Wednesdays at 2 and 7:30 p.m., Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. ( except the 22nd/Turkey Day), Fridays at 7:30 p.m. ( ADDED 2 p.m. on 11/23),Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.

Tickets  range from $18- $95 and can be purchased at any Broadway In Chicago box office, by calling the BroadwayInChicago Ticketline at 1-800-775-2000, all Ticketmaster outlets or online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com

The Cadillac Palace Theatre is located at 151 West Randolph Street ( LaSalle Street at Randolph).

To see what others are saying, visit theatreinchicago on my home page,  once there go to review round-up and click on “Les Miz”

 

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