Review: LES MISERABLES Returns to Clowes Memorial Hall

Performances run through Sunday, March 19th.

By: Mar. 19, 2023
Review: LES MISERABLES Returns to Clowes Memorial Hall

LES MISÉRABLES is a formidable classic Broadway show. It has a mammoth score and complex compositions that don't stop coming. There's a reason that it has captivated audiences since 1987 on Broadway. It is mesmerizing in its sheer volume of sound and storytelling taken from the pages of a hefty book by Victor Hugo. More than all of that, however, it speaks to our humanity and the light and dark we hold within ourselves that can impact the direction of our entire lives, and perhaps beyond.


I have had a fond connection to LES MISÉRABLES for years, in fact, before I even knew of the musical as a whole. I was a young pianist absentmindedly playing through an anthology of Broadway songs when I noticed that three or four of my favorites all came from one source: Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg. Over time, I figured out that these composers had written all of these songs for one show. It took me even longer to learn the full story, and I even tried (unsuccessfully) to read the book. Every step made me love it more. All of this is to say I have very high expectations coming into this show. It transports me to a time when I was dreaming of my own castles on a cloud, and I want to relive that experience. It was everything I wanted it to be. The touring ensemble was quite simply phenomenal. From the actors to the pit orchestra to the set and lighting designers to the hardworking folks backstage, I have to say thank you for the heart and soul you poured into this production.

Let's be honest. LES MISÉRABLES as a production will not succeed without a superb Jean Valjean. Everything hinges on him, and the wrong casting will set everything akimbo. So I was a little disheartened to hear we'd have an understudy. But I need to learn my lesson: understudies can bring it, and that was exactly the case with Randy Jeter. You could tell he brought a hunger to this role that gave it an extra boost of vitality and passion. He found a wonderful foil in his counterpart, Javert, played by Preston Truman Boyd. Boyd also brought hunger but reined in and compressed so it was cold and hard, just like his character.

I'll be honest and say that I've never loved the love story between Cosette (Addie Morales) and Marius (Gregory Lee Rodriguez). While I've always found Marius at least a partially compelling character by virtue of his participation in the revolution, I've also had a lackluster response to Cosette as a young woman. This production taught me to enjoy their blossoming love story because it clearly emphasized one thing: their age. They were fumbling, awkward, and therefore endearing because I saw them as they were meant to be seen, as essentially children. They're incredibly young and part of a world that is in turmoil for Marius and isolated for Cosette. The way they cling to one another becomes so much more understandable in that light, and whether I can attribute that to actors' choices or direction, I applaud it.

My final begrudging highlight must go to Matt Crowle as Thénardier. I say begrudging only because I cannot stand that character. However, Crowle played it perfectly. I loved to hate Thénardier. He quite literally made me queasy as I watched him jeer and laugh as he looted corpses of young men. That clearly shows I bought into the character and his many, many flaws.

This is a singularly talented cast. In every scene, the ensemble as a whole was a sheer powerhouse of sound. Individual moments from less prominent characters were just as effective as the primary solos. Every person on that stage deserved the resounding standing ovation given by the audience.

Time is almost out to see this incredible performance, so grab your tickets now for LES MISÉRABLES at Clowes Memorial Hall.


Les Miserables returned to Indianapolis, again, in excellent fashion, propagating its underlying message that theater can suppress the multitudes. It can be ambitious and weighty, thematically sacred, and blatantly tear-jerking.

A display of all-encompassing scope and musical beauty, this now-classic musical version of Victor Hugo's 19th century original has, for well over three decades, been the actual essence of theater you go to in order to understand large emotions, to get a respectable beautifully tempted cry, or maybe a few of those, conditional on your susceptibility to stunningly sang high notes at the point of a character's death. There were a lot of deaths, and even more high notes.

I have found "Les Mis" simple to poke fun at after the show because it is just exactly, so enthusiastically passion-full. But don't mistake this production. For the entirety of the show, Les Miserables picked me up from the routine and surrounded me in its splendor.

With Matt Kinley's new set design compared to the last time we saw this, the iconic stage turntable was gone, which was just fine for me. Without it, I felt like the actors were more energetic and deeply more visceral. There was much more physical violence portrayed, and the characters confronted each other rather than swirl about as much. The gorgeous projections were inspired by Victor Hugo's own drawings being mildly impressionistic mostly, and on occasion more abstract. They were generally Earth-toned, and Paule Constable's lighting was darker, which created more painterly images. The sewer scene in particular took full advantage of the ability for projections to take the audience somewhere else. And the show remained a state-of-the-art sight, with no losses made for the barricade scene, and a climactic effects.

Most importantly, the cast was fantastic. Understudy Randy Jeter was in for Jean Valjean and had seemingly super-human voice control; you couldn't tell where his falsetto starts and ends. His "Bring Him Home" is the highest highlight of the night - painfully, excruciatingly beautiful. The clearest standouts among the excellent ensemble were Christine Heesun Hwang as Eponine and Matt Crowle as Thernardier. In a trench coat and beret, spotlighted to the point of loneliness, Hwang's contemporary-sounding "On My Own" feels separate, a work of art all... on its own. Preston Truman Boyd was an excellent Javert, ramrod-straight in the flesh as if he's always at attention, and with numbers sung with such passion that they came off a bit like love songs to his own uncertainty.


Review Roundup: LES MISERABLES Launches New National Tour Photo
Review Roundup: LES MISERABLES Launches New National Tour

The new National Tour of Les Miserables launched earlier this month in Cleveland. Read the reviews for Les Miserables here!

Photos: LES MISERABLES North American Tour Opens in Cleveland Photo
Photos: LES MISERABLES North American Tour Opens in Cleveland

Cameron Mackintosh’s acclaimed production of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s Tony Award-winning musical phenomenon, LES MISÉRABLES, officially opened last night at Playhouse Square in Cleveland, OH. Check out photos from the red carpet!

VIDEO: LES MISERABLES Tour Gets Ready to Hit the Road Photo
VIDEO: LES MISERABLES Tour Gets Ready to Hit the Road

The barricades are coming to a city near you! Cameron Mackintosh's production of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg's Tony Award-winning musical phenomenon, LES MISÉRABLES, is about to hit the road. The cast just gave BroadwayWorld a very special sneak peek and you can catch highlights in this video!

Photos: Meet the Company of the LES MISERABLES National  Tour Photo
Photos: Meet the Company of the LES MISERABLES National Tour

Cameron Mackintosh's production of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg's Tony Award-winning musical phenomenon, LES MISÉRABLES, is about to hit the road. The show will relaunch its tour of North America in October 2022 at Playhouse Square in Cleveland, OH and will play more than 60 week-long and multi-week engagements through the next two years and beyond.

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