Theater Review - Les Miserables (NY)

Back on Broadway, the musical affectionately called “Les Miz” is darker and edgier than ever .

 

Amazing but true! Victor Hugo's novel, “Les Misérables,” written in French, 1,500 pages, has resonated internationally since 1862. The longest running Tony award-winning musical based on it with Music by Claude Michel Schonberg, lyrics by Herbert Kreitzmer with original French text by Boubil and Jean-Marc Natel, continues to play all over the world. The  recent film was a hit, and now, a stunning new production from England adapted by Trevor Nunn and John Caird  has opened  at Broadway's Imperial Theatre and there is no doubt it will be there for a long time. 

 

Brilliantly Directed by Laurence Connor and James Powell with new lush orchestrations by Christopher Jahnke, Stephen Metcalfe and Stephen Brooker, Set and Image Design by Matt Kinley inspired by the paintings by Victor Hugo, Projections realized by Fifty-Nine Productions, Paule Constable's black and blue lighting and Andreanne Neofitou and  Christine Rowland's ebullient costumes bring an edginess and deepness to an emotional story.

 

But in a musical like Les Misérables, where the score is so powerful,  it is the voices that are all important. And what a cast!!! Ramin Karimloo, who is Persian and Canadian, is splendid as Jean Valjean, the man who begins at the bottom of life's rope and ends up on top. Of course, everyone is compared to Colm Wilkenson, who originated the role and has an electric quality to his voice that is indescribable. However, Karimloo's voice is mellifluous and soaring in every wonderful song. “Soliloquy,” “Who Am I,” “In My Life,” and “Bring Him Home” have never sounded better. He is a convincing actor as well, struggling from rags to riches, fleeing from Javert, the marvelous Will Swenson, who gives a strong rendition of “Stars” and “Soliloquy,” restoring the role to its proper stardom.  Valjean keeps up a pace helping people like Fantine, the beauteous Cassie Levy, and her daughter, Little Cossette (Mckayla Twiggs), and grown Cosette. the lovely Samantha Hill, protecting Marius, by dragging him through a sewer; as Marius, a sweet Andy Mientus, delivers in the tearjerker, “Empty Chairs and Empty Tables.” Nikki M. James, Tony award winner for “The Book of Mormon,” is a welcome surprise as Eponine, in love with Marius.  

 

Then there are the low-life bumptious barkeeps, Thenardier and his wife. Cliff Saunders and Keala Settle are wonderfully crude rustics, who lend repulsive humor to the proceedings with my favorite number, “Master of the House.”  We must discuss the young men and women who participate in the failed revolution. We are not sure what exact battle this was; there were many I imagine.  Kyle Scatliffe as Enjolras is impressive as he leads his passionate friends into the jaws of death, singing “One Day More.”  And hats off to the gifted Gaten Matarazzo, who makes the little boy Gavrotte, a hero!     

 

“Les Misérables” is a revival which reminds us of all the positives in the show. At the Imperial Theatre. 

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