Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Kravis Center: Les Misérables (2 reviews)

The national tour of Les Misérables opened at the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts on May 24, 2012.
Cameron Mackintosh presents a brand new 25th anniversary production of Boublil & Schönberg’s legendary musical, LES MISÉRABLES, with glorious new staging and dazzlingly re-imagined scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo.  Based on Victor Hugo’s classic novel, LES MISÉRABLES is an epic and uplifting story about the survival of the human spirit.
Hap Erstein reviewed for The Palm Beach Post:
What do you get for a musical that has traveled the world, playing to some 50 million theatergoers and setting box office records, to celebrate its 25th anniversary?  If you are producer Cameron Mackintosh and the show is Les Misérables, you mount a reconceived production and put it on the road to make new fans and more money.  Now, two years later, that new take on Les Miz has arrived at the Kravis Center, looking fresh and sounding terrific.
The Schönberg score (with English lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer) is through-sung, opera-style, which puts substantial demands on the cast.  But you would never know it from the performance by Lockyer, who can belt the introspective Who Am I?, then soar in his upper register on the prayer aria Bring Him Home. Very much his equal vocally is Varela, who handles his two solos (Stars, Soliloquy) with authority.
Timothy Gulan and Shawna M. Hamic are fine as the larcenous Thernardiers, but their abrasive music-hall comic relief has always been the weakest link of the script.  More successful is Chasten Harmon as their lovelorn daughter Eponine, who handles the plaintive On My Own with pop-star panache.
Jan Sjostrom reviewed for the Palm Beach Daily News:
For sheer sweep, musicality and passion it’s hard to top Les Misérables. Producer Cameron Mackintosh’s 25th anniversary makeover gives the show a fresh look without eroding the qualities that have made it beloved.
Matt Kinley’s set design does away with the famous turntable. In its place are projected backdrops inspired by Hugo’s dark, impressionistic paintings. Judiciously used animation turns Jean Valjean’s flight through the sewers and Javert’s suicide into engulfing drama.
Peter Lockyer’s Valjean is a heroic figure with the voice of a seraphim. His rendition of the ethereal Bring Him Home seems to stop time. As Javert, Andrew Varela makes a shattering journey from certainty, expressed in his towering solo Stars, to tortured self-doubt.

Chasten Harmon brings dignity to the spurned Eponine and sings On My Own with heart-breaking pathos. Timothy Gulan and Shawna Hamic as Thenardier and his wife concoct their mercenary schemes with savage wit.

The ensembles developing individual characters are beautifully balanced, while the choruses evoking the broader social context tale stir the blood. In short, the retooled Les Misérables looks and sounds as good as new.
Les Misérables plays at the Kravis Center through Sunday, May 26, 2012.

1 comment:

  1. Amazing! I saw it last night at the Kravis Center and I thought it was downright awful. Screaming. Everything on the same sound level. Sounded recorded. Left at the intermission.