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BWW CD Reviews: LES MISERABLES LIVE! DREAM THE DREAM (The 2010 Cast Album) Showcases Exciting New Orchestrations

BWW CD Reviews: LES MISERABLES LIVE! DREAM THE DREAM (The 2010 Cast Album) Showcases Exciting New Orchestrations
Cover art for LES MISERABLES LIVE! DREAM THE DREAM
(The 2010 Cast Album). Courtesy of First Night Records.

Since it first premiered in France in September 1980, the sung-through musical Les Miserables became a cultural phenomenon. It was translated into English and premiered on London's West End in 1985, and later opened on Broadway in 1987. Since opening in London, this worldwide phenomenon has been consistently performing in London's West End. Next week, the re-orchestrated and re-imagined 25th Anniversary Production that toured the United Kingdom from December 12, 2009 to October 2, 2010 and United States from November 19, 2010 to August 11, 2013 will open on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre.

In anticipation of Les Miserables, which is currently in previews on Broadway, coming back home to Broadway, I've been listening to Les Miserables LIVE! DREAM THE DREAM (The 2010 Cast Album), which is a live recording of the 25th Anniversary production of the acclaimed musical. The beautiful, exciting, and comprehensive recording was captured during the first eight performances of the UK National Tour at the Wales Millennium Centre in December 2009. For those curious about what they can expect from the new Broadway production, this recording serves as the perfect introduction to Chris Jahnke's new orchestrations and the additional orchestrations by Stephen Metcalfe and Stephen Brooker.

The work of Chris Jahnke, Stephen Metcalfe, and Stephen Brooker contemporizes the Les Miserables score, making it sound more like a musical that was written today, and not 30 years ago. While the sound is not as full as Cameron Mackintosh's 10th Anniversary Royal Albert Hall Concert arrangements performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the 15 musicians in the pit bring lush, vibrant, and surprisingly full life to this cherished score.

Fans of the Original London Cast Recording, the first English language recording of Les Miserables, will notice tempo changes, key changes, and the advancements made in synthesized music. If those fans are like me, they'll miss hearing "Little People" and will be ecstatic to hear that the original lyrics are being used for Éponine's introduction to "On My Own." In many ways, with Les Miserables LIVE! DREAM THE DREAM (The 2010 Cast Album), everything old is new again, and the final product couldn't be more appealing, and generally grand.

Additionally, the cast in this production is top notch. Without the benefit of recording in the studio, it's surprising how crisp and clear this recording is. Additionally, it is also impressive how few vocal mistakes are present on the discs. John Owen-Jones does incredible work as Jean Valjean, singing with affecting and tangible emotion. Earl Carpenter's Javert is brooding and menacing. Madalena Alberto's Fantine soars, especially on "I Dreamed a Dream." As Éponine, Rosalind James is spirited. Katie Hall's Cosette is sung with tender sweetness. Gareth Gates sings Marius with indelible spirit. Enjolras is brought to intriguing and charismatic life by Jon Robyns.

If you're clutching tickets to the new Broadway revival, hoping to see the Broadway revival, or looking to cure your Les Miserables itch, Les Miserables LIVE! DREAM THE DREAM (The 2010 Cast Album) is the perfect way to satiate your needs. Furthermore, if this re-worked Les Miserables sounds this great with this cast, once can only dream a dream of how amazing it will sound when performed by the star-studded cast of the revival, which proudly features Ramin Karimloo as Jean Valjean, Will Swenson as Javert, Caissie Levy as Fantine, Nikki M. James as Éponine, Andy Mientus as Marius, and Samantha Hill as Cosette.

LES MISERABLES LIVE! DREAM THE DREAM (The 2010 Cast Album) was released in physical and digital editions by First Night Records on October 12, 2010. The album can be purchased from Amazon and iTunes.

The current Broadway revival of Les Miserables began previews on March 1, 2014. It officially opens at Broadway's Imperial Theatre, 249 West 45th Street, New York City, 10036 on March 23, 2014. For more information and tickets, please visit http://www.lesmis.com/broadway or call (800) 447-7400.

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