BWW Reviews: LES MISERABLES the Musical Still Soars!

January 7
10:35 PM 2013

It is the same compelling same story, the same glorious music but as Cameron Mackintosh shares, "25 years after Les Miserables ("Les Miz") originally opened in London the audience for this marvelous show is bigger and younger than ever before. It has been exciting to draw inspiration from the brilliant drawings and paintings of Victor Hugo himself, integrated with spectacular projections. The new Les Miz is a magnificent mix of dazzling images and epic staging, driving one of the greatest musical stories ever told."BWW Reviews: LES MISERABLES the Musical Still Soars!

Impressive projections take you on a journey from the backstreets of France, the cavernous sewers, the dark woods, the starry skies and murky waters of Javert's suicide. This set design would have been impossible 25 years ago - projection and integrated lighting design. Javert's suicide from the Pont on the Seine is pure theater magic.

Based on Victor Hugo's classic novel, this is an epic and uplifting story about the survival of the human spirit. The magnificent score features classic songs such as "I Dreamed a Dream," "On My Own," "Stars," "Bring Him Home," "Do You Hear the People Sing?," "One Day More," "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables," "Master Of The House."

Most of the cast is indeed worth singing about. Peter Lockyer plays a very vigorous, passionate Jean Valjean. It is evident that Lockyer's stage experience lends itself to a stellar performance. Valjean's antagonist Inspector Javert has typically been played as a staunch militant, emotionless man of the law, Andrew Valera has taken this character type into a new dimension of inner rage that occasionally breaks through gloriously in Javert's frustration at his inability to capture the ex-con who not only escapes him for years but destroys Javert's soul with his goodness and mercy. Varela's portrayal of Javert is purposeful and calculated. His formidable police inspector depiction is backed up with commanding vocals that reach their climax in "Stars" and in "Soliloquy", where his last moments on the bridge are phenomenally executed courtesy of the design and tech teams.BWW Reviews: LES MISERABLES the Musical Still Soars!

Genevieve Leclerc plays Fantine a bit too mechanically and rushed, while getting through each scene without any noticeable flaws, she simply does not draw the emotion from the character as well as one would hope. Not the case with Briana Carlson-Goodman's Eponine, who delights with her portrayal of the tough, spunky, vulnerable Inn keepers' daughter.

Timothy Gulan as Thénardier and Shawna M. Hamic as Madame Thénardier are delightfully despicable and never play for the laughs, though they get them. Jason Forbach possesses an imposing baritone as Enjolras adding to the richness of one of the most glorious vocal companies to ever join their voices on a stage! A standout performance is offered from the student called Feuilly played by Weston Wells Olson, who brings his character to life in every scene!

BWW Reviews: LES MISERABLES the Musical Still Soars!

Devin Ilaw plays Marius with conviction, emotion and a very fitting singing voice.
Lauren Wiley plays the role of Cosette; typically a very subdued, sweet character in the story in comparison to the other female roles yet she is given songs with vocal ranges that only the most trained soprano can effectively deliver. Wiley does a suitable job with acting and vocals.

Clearly this is a younger, fresher take on a show enjoyed worldwide by millions.
Les Miserables will play at the Academy of Music through January 13th. For Tickets and information:

Photos: Courtesy of Kimmel Center Press

Philadelphia THEATER Stories | Shows

About the Author

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Pati Buehler Pati has been involved with various aspects of the theater from hosting large groups to Broadway shows in the early 90's to supporting various Broadway artists for charities such as the "Make A Wish Foundation", The Leukemia Society, and Gilda's Club, programs supporting fighting ovarian cancer. New York's Jane Ellisa's Shining Star Award for the Leukemia Society. In 2001, she began writing for various theater-based web sites from,, and

Her passion is Arts and Education and Fundraising for Non Profit Organizations. In 2002 she teamed up with Broadway star Craig Schulman (Les Miserables/Phantom/Jekyll & Hyde) to put together a traveling Broadway in your school Workshop/Master Class program that has thrilled young artists and theater groups across the country.

She began producing live concert events as PB Entertainment in 2003 at various venues. From 2004-2006 she produced two seasons of professional events for Eastern High School Performing Arts Center, Voorhees, NJ including Neil Berg's "100 Years of Broadway", two Rockin' Oldies events, a Broadway cast Jazz Show and the Southern New Jersey Philharmonic Orchestra featuring Australian world class violinist Martin Lass and more. In 2013 Pati produced “Broadway Sings For Newtown” bringing 6 Broadway artists together to perform for the Newtown Conn. Community to benefit the “Healing Arts Foundation” and honoring all the families involved in the Sandy Hook School tragedy.

Venue Affiliations: Theater Reviews: Forrest Theater, Merriam Theater, Walnut Street Theater, The Academy of Music, The Kimmel Center, Peter Nero & the Philly Pops, Media Theater, Lenape Regional PAC, The Arden Theater, The Prince Music Theater, The Paper Mill Playhouse, The Bristol Riverside Theater, Commerce Bank Arts Center, Surflight Theater, Society Hill Playhouse, Philadelphia Theater Company and more.

Events Producer: Ritz Theater Company, Ocean City Music Pier, Collingswood Foundation For the Arts , Stafford Township Performing Arts Center, Mainstage Center for the Performing Arts , Eastern Center For the Performing Arts, Newtown Conn. Arts Festival.

Pati owns and manages PB Entertainment LLC. and is a director for a private fundraising company Fundagroup.


If/Then in PhiladelphiaIf/Then
Kimmel Center [Merriam Theater]
(Runs 6/21 - 6/26)
Dancing at Lughnasa in PhiladelphiaDancing at Lughnasa
(Runs 7/15 - 7/31)
I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change
Mountain Playhouse
(Runs 8/2 - 8/14)
Man of La Mancha
Bristol Riverside Theatre
(Runs 5/10 - 6/5)
Arden Theatre Co
(Runs 5/12 - 6/19)