Highly Recommended ***** Part of reviewing the theater is that we get an opportunity t view the same play, through the eyes of a different creative team and a unique cast each time a theater company produces it. “Les Miserables”. that unique , almost operatic piece that has captured our minds for so many years was designed and built for a large theater. It has a huge cast of players and some rather large set pieces ( lets face it, there needs to be a barricade on the stage, but in the latest production, on the stage of Drury Lane Oak Brook ( celebrating thirty years of exceeding the expectations of the theater audiences who take their seats), a much more intimate space,
Rockwell’s cast is solid as the rock of Gibraltar in bringing this story to the Drury Lane stage, as we go on a time trip through three decades of 19th Century history in France and watch the life of one Jean Val Jean ( an amazing, stunning and outstanding performance by Ivan Rutherford) , a man who was imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread and is now ruined for life as he is followed by the sanctimonious Javert ( the incredible Quentin Earl Darrington) who cannot see that change is possible. Based on the work of Victor Hugo, this amazing musical with a book by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg with lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer and music by Mr. Schonberg is filled with wonderful, dynamic musical numbers such as “On My Own”, “Drink With Me” “One Day More”, “In MY Life”,”I Dreamed a Dream” and “Bring Him Home” and so many more as the entire story telling experience is in the music itself.
“Les Miz” ( as it is affectionately called, tugs at our heartstrings and teaches us about love and honor as well as passion and humanity and of course forgiveness.. There are several love stories in this story and we even have a comic couple ( played to perfection by Sharon Sachs and Mark David Kaplan) as the Thenardiers. They were stronger in character than any of the previous performers I have seen ( and I have seen many productions). This entire cast , one of high energy also gave us one of the clearest renditions on a vocal scale thanks to the musical direction of Roberta Duchak ( one very familiar with this score having worked with many of the actors in the famed movie version) and that is a big plus.
In the famed roles of Little Cosette ( the adorable Sage Harper and Ava Morse will play this role), young Eponine ( Peyton Shaffer), the grown-up versions, Christina Nieves ( Eponine with a voice that is music to our ears) and Emily Rohm as Cosette ,who c ontinues to show how wide a range she has . I have to say that I was quite impressed by young Matthew Uzarraga as Gavroche ( also played by Charlie Babbo) what stage presence from a young actor! In fact, it is the entire ensemble, many of whom play several roles and continued to change costumes, wigs and personalities for almost three hours of entertainment and to think, on certain days, they do two shows!
Hats off to Travis Taylor, Skylar Adams ( a solid Marius), Jennie Sophia ( a glorious Fantine),Justin Adair, Missy Aguilar, Charlie Babbo, Jennifer baker, Brandon Chandler, Thomas Forde,Nicholas Foster, Nathan Gardner, David Girolmo, George Keating, Ann McMann, James Nedrud, Erin Oechsel, Rob Riddle, Emma Rosenthal, David Sajewich, Allison Sill, Will Skrip, Joe Tokarz and Lauren Villegas. These ensemble players make the evening a delightful theatrical experience. The opening night audience was alive and responsive to each scene of this magical musical.
Part of the magic of the night is the technical part of the production. The use of projections ( Sage Marie Carter), lighting (Greg Hoffman), amazing costumes (Erika Senase and Maggie Hoffman) wigs that were awesome (Rick Jarvie) and props (Nick Heggestad) along with perfect sound (Ray Nardelli and Dan Mead) make this experience one that will stay with us for more than just the ride home.
Drury Lane has been bringing us quality theater for thirty years in Oak Brook, and the grandchildren, now taking the helm of this wonderful theater are continuing in the tradition of their family with bringing quality theater ( along with fine dining for those who partake of the dinner/lunch packages) at affordable ticket prices to the audience they attract. Thanks for the last thirty years, and the next!
Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m.
Thursdays at 1:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Fridays at 8 p.m.
Saturdays at 5 and 8:45 p.m.
Sundays at 2 and 6 p.m.
Tickets range from $45-$60 ( lunch and dinner packages slightly higher) and can be purchased at the theater box office located at 100 Drury lane in Oak Brook ( just North of the Oak Brook mall) by phone at 630-530-0111, at Ticketmaster- 800-745-3000 or online at www.drurylane.com
Plenty of free parking is available and seniors can get discounts for certain performances.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Les Miserables”.