Review: LES MISERABLES at Orpheum Theatre Memphis

You will be Miserables is you miss it!

By: Feb. 08, 2024
Review: LES MISERABLES at Orpheum Theatre Memphis
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This will be the 10th time Les Miserables captivates Memphis audiences at the Orpheum Theatre and it is no less stunning than the previous performances. Based on the 1862 French novel of the same name by Victor Hugo, Les Miserables is a crowd favorite and is the second-longest running musical in the world. 

The show folllows Jean Valjean, a runaway convict who decides to break his parole and winds up adopting newly-orphaned Cosette. Years go by and the audience is swept up into the French Revolution as Valjean continuously tries to avoid Javert, the police inspector determined to bring about justice and recapture Valjean. Along his journey, Valjean meets certain people who influence his choices and help him reclaim his true identity. 

Nick Cartell is no stranger to the role of Valjean and it certainly shows. The musical notes flow efortlessly and I heard more than one sniffle during the iconic ballad "Bring Him Home". The same can be said for Haley Dortch, whose Fantine captivates the audience and manages to belt out "I Dreamed a Dream" (one of the most iconic songs in musical theatre history) with poise and fierceness before Fantine ultimately turns to her own demise in order to save her young child. Matt Crowle and Victoria Huston-Elem manage to bring comedy to the stage in moments where it is desprately needed! Their portrayal of the Thenardiers, a couple who perfect at swindling and thieving, brings refreshing laughter to the story. My other call outs are Delayney Guyer and Jake David Smith, who bring a fresh new side to Cosette and Marius and actually play them as love-struck teenagers, something I have not seen done many times in the past. "A Heart Full of Love" is not just a lovely ballad but a painfully awkward love-confession, which makes the song comedic as well as wholesome. I loved seeing these characters as socially inept at times, as we often ony see the ingenue and nothing else. Kudos to these two for bringing them to life in such a fun way and providing some well-needed comedy (it can't all fall to the Thenardiers, after all) 

My best friend made the comment "it's interesting when a side character steals the show" and more kudos go out to Kyle Adams for doing just that whenever he is on stage. Grantaire makes for a lively addition to the students in the ABC Cafe and his drunken swagger draws the audience's attention every time. Aditionally, when Adams returns to the stage during "Beggars at the Feast" as an entirely new character, his comedic timing and physicality (along with the return of the Thenardiers) have the audience roaring with laughter. 

If all you know of Les Miserables is the 2012 film adaptation, do yourself a favor and purchase a ticket just to wash Russell Crowe's voice out of your head. Kidding, but in all seriousness, Preston Truman Boyd, who is also returning to his role, portrays the police inspector Javert with power, his looming stature and booming voice making the perfect combination. 

Les Miserables is truly an ensemble show and I applaud each and every cast member on the stage as well as behind it. When I was graduating high school, I had the privelege of participating in the Orpheum Summer Institute where cast and crew of Les Mis came to speak to our classes and did various workshops. I learned how much manpower it takes to put on this beast of a show. At the end of the day, Les Miserables remains as one of the most popular musicals in the world. 

Don't "miz" your chance to see this stunning show, running through February 11th.