BWW Review: LES MISERABLES Sings with Spirited Voices of Love, Redemption, and Revolution at BJCC CONCERT HALL
Growing up as a theater kid of the 80's, it was essential to have a poster, playbill or t-shirt from Cats, Phantom of the Opera, and "Les Misérables". If you had a menagerie from all three shows, well then you leveled up the social ladder.
I remember leaving the theatre after the first time I saw "Les Mis." I was filled with a vibrating message of hope and a desire to unify with a growing voice against the fist of tyranny. As a teenager, the powerhouse musical provided a wonderful civics lesson through the power of the arts. Here we are 40 years later and "Les Misérables" continues to enlighten as vibrant musical theatre.
This new revival of "Les Misérables" is playing at the BJCC for a limited time. It is alive and bellows with the rising voice of the people. The creative presentation delivers high production value, memorable talent, and striking video projections incorporating Victor Hugo's amazing paintings. The end result created an unexpected experience as if I was viewing "Les Misérables" for the first time with fresh eyes. Directors Laurence Connor and James Powell successfully structured this performance a theater experience that will make theater kids of all ages sing in bold unison, "Do you hear the people sing!' This musical is sans spoken dialogue. Right from the start the music and dynamic performances captures the audience and does not let go. Music director Brian Eads delivering a tight orchestra and cast vocals of the iconic songs including "I Dreamed A Dream," "On My Own," "Stars," "Bring Him Home," and "One Day More."
In a nutshell, Victor Hugo' layered story from 1862 tackles injustice, the poor, love, loss, religion, morality, family, redemption and the power of revolution. The plot progresses with multiple story arcs that intersect all the characters in a fateful march toward independence and freedom, both literally and spiritually. It opens with Jean Valjean (Patrick Dunn) being released from a 19-year prison sentence for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his family. The unapologetically cruel warden Javert (Preston Truman Boyd ) is a zealot obsessed with delivering the maximum cruelty. Actor Patrick Dunn gives Jean Valjean a stellar voice and solid presence. Preston Truman Boyd brings stern intensity into a powerful performance as the villainous Javert. The play progresses years later and Valjean's path crosses with Fantine (Mary Kate Moore), a mother wracked with indescribable trauma and heartbreak. Her optimistic daughter Cosette (As a kid Annabel Cole, as an adult Jillian Butler) exudes a touching innocence and hopeful nature. The cast is composed of a well-rounded and bellowing ensemble that keeps the music and energy up for the three-hour duration of the lengthy but entertaining production. Additional stand out performances include Phoenix Best as strong Éponine, Joshua Grosso as love struck Marius, Jimmy Smagula and Michelle Dowdy as the comical Monsieur and Madame Thénardier. As time moves forward, fate brings all the characters together to a rising conclusion, wrapped in the flag of the revolution.
Cameron Mackintosh's production of Boublil and Schönberg's Les Misérables has music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer from the original French text by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel, additional material by James Fenton and original adaptation by Trevor Nunn and John Caird. Impressive highlights are made by production designer Matt Kinley, Set design by Matt Kinley, crisp lighting design by Paule Constable, striking costume design by Andreane Neofitou and Christine Rowland, and the musical staging by Michael Ashcroft and Geoffrey Garratt.
This new revival production of "Les Misérables" is alive with the rising tide of hope, love and a grasp of a better tomorrow. The show leaves you singing along as strong stirring voice of the people. The message of unity over oppression is a track worth playing on repeat.
The production is recommended for appropriate ages due to sensitive subjects including prostitution, physical abuse, and social uprising.
Directed by Laurence Connor and James Powell
Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer
The BJCC Concert Hall
2100 Richard Arrington Jr Blvd N, Birmingham, AL 35203
Friday, January 7 - 12
Tickets - HERE
Parking downtown is atrocious. Be aware and plan accordingly. There were dozens of people walking in late during the performance. It was the worst I have ever seen at a show. People were coming in as late as 30 minutes into the performance. If you think it's no big deal, just image you are paying good money to enjoy the show and then, every 5 minutes people in the rows in front of you stand up repeatedly so late people can get by them to their seats. If it weren't so bad at the performance I would not be using all caps in the following statement.
GET TO THE THEATRE 30 MINUTES EARLY! THE SHOW STARTS PROMPTLY AT 7:30. THIS DOESN'T MEAN ARRIVE AT THE THEATRE AT 7:30. UNDERSTAND?? GET YOUR BUTT TO THE THEATER 30 MIN PRIOR FOR THIS AND ANY SHOW.
Apologies again for the all caps but the late arrivals were seriously that bad last night.