Review Roundup: Dallas Theater Center's Modernized LES MISERABLES

July 9
5:06 PM 2014
Review Roundup: Dallas Theater Center's Modernized LES MISERABLES

Dallas Theater Center will fill the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre stage with the glorious music of the most popular musical of all time in a thrilling new production of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg's LES MISERABLES. Audiences will be swept away by the epic sounds of LES MISERABLES, directed by Liesl Tommy, which runs through August 17 at the Wyly Theatre.

LES MISERABLES is choreographed by Christopher Windom, who has appeared on Broadway in Fosse and Damn Yankees, and music direction is by Sinai Tabak. Other members of the creative team are scenic designer John Coyne (DTC's Henry IV); costume designer Jacob Climer; lighting designer Colin Bills and sound designer Ray Nardelli. Tickets for LES MISERABLES are on sale now. Ticket prices start at $15 and are available online at www.DallasTheaterCenter.org or by phone at (214) 880-0202.

Let's see what the critics had to say...

Nancy Churnin, Dallas Morning News: You might feel bewildered at the sight of Jean Valjean in a suit and tie, and a prostitute snapping a selfie with a cellphone in LES MISERABLES. Let it go, as Elsa says in Frozen. Let it go and trust the ride at Dallas Theater Center. You might feel unmoored by John Coyne's forbidding watchtowers, suspended chairs evocative of lost lives and the absence of early 19th-century French landmarks on a slablike stage that rakes downward, with broken edges spilling into the audience.

Elaine Liner, Dallas Observer: Director Liesl Tommy makes this a Les Miz for everybody who is les tired of every other Les Miz, turning what is so often a turgid evening of operatic screeching (at least in the touring productions that have come here in recent years) into something fresh and thrilling. She starts with the casting of some exceptionally gorgeous lead actors. There's no sexier Javert than Edward Watts, a tall silver fox with a booming baritone, nor a more extravagantly attractive Enjolras than John Campione, who's also gifted with a heavenly voice. Nehal Joshi, last seen in DTC's The Who's Tommy, is a bald and beautiful Jean Valjean.

Andrew Chalk, Crave DFW: Tommy's production is faithful to every song and every word. The license is taken in the costume and design departments. Prison guards are costumed in Judge Dredd-style goon outfits and carry modern handguns. A financially successful Jean Valjean appears in a slick business suit (Brioni, to my eye). And the conflict at the barricades brought to mind the recent scenes in Kiev's Independence Square, rather than a mid-19th century uprising in Paris, France.

Jan Farrington, Theatre Jones: Nothing essential has changed in DTC's regional professional premiere of the show by book/songwriter Alain Boublil and composer Claude-Michel Schönberg. As always, this LES MISERABLES is a story about the neverending search for justice in an unjust world, and a story about love: the kind of love that holds us up even as the world disappoints. And we mean no disrespect to the original concept of the musical, the only show that's ever brought a Big Tough Guy we know to floods of tears. It's great, now and (probably) forever. But DTC's reimagining lets us know it can be done: Les Miz can change, survive-and still bring the crowd to its feet.

Alex Bentley, Culturemap: DTC's version may take some getting used to for Les Mis purists. Although the story supposedly takes place in early 1800s France, all of the costumes and props are ultra-modern and vaguely American. This includes police dressed up in SWAT uniforms, contemporary weapons, and signs protesting everything from the need for a higher minimum wage to the ineptitude of the Veterans Administration.

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