BWW Review: LES MISERABLES Builds the Barricade in Jackson
When the lights dimmed in the theater on March 8th, the cast of Les Misérables began what can only be described as a musical marathon. With practiced precision, they began a performance where, for almost 3 hours, singing was the only form of communication, and the entire audience was transported back to the 19th century France, where a man served 19 years in jail for stealing bread, spent years chased by a relentless police inspector, young love was found for one but crushed for another, and a revolution was fought for by a group of students who will risk their lives for what they believe is right.
On Friday night, hundreds of theatre-goers in Jackson got the chance to experience one of the most iconic musicals in history. Stopping at Thalia Mara Hall, the cast of the national tour of Les Mis built the barricade in Mississippi last week and made the dreams of many theatre fans come true. Based on a novel of the same name by the French poet and novelist Victor Hugo, the show is unique in the fact that it is sung-through, and is one of the longest-running musicals in the world. As part of the Broadway in Jackson series presented by Trustmark, the tour itself is presented by Cameron Mackintosh. Featuring a book first written by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel in French and adapted by Trevor Nunn and John Caird, the musical boasts music and lyrics by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Herbert Kretzmer, respectively.
Leading the company as Jean Valjean, Andrew Maughan beautifully assumed the role of a man who spent nearly 2 decades in prison as punishment for stealing a loaf of bread and made him into someone who oozed compassion and concern for those he held dear. Valjean not only took pity on desperate mother Fantine, played by Mary Kate Moore, as she was dying, he also took in her young daughter, Cosette. Hunted relentlessly as he tried to start a new life by police inspector Javert, portrayed by Josh Davis, who, while technically following the law in doing so, seemed more a criminal than Valjean himself. Cosette, first portrayed as a child by the adorable Aubin Bradley and as a young woman by the ever-talented Jillian Butler, lived first under the care of less-than-supportive "foster parents" the raucous Thénardiers, played by Allison Guinn and J Anthony Crane, but was adopted by Valjean after her mother's untimely passing. Having lived a very sheltered life in Paris with Valjean, she meets a young man named Marius, portrayed by Joshua Grosso, and they are taken with one another, much to the despair of Éponine, played by Domonique Paton, who is in love with Marius without him realizing it and tells as much in her song "On My Own". In the city of Paris, some local students, led boldly by Matt Shingledecker as Enjolras, decide that it is their time to rise up and begin a revolution that sweeps Valjean, a spunky, streetwise child named Gavroche, at this performance played by Parker Weathersbee, and many of the other characters into the fight at the barricade they've built. The barricade quickly becomes a place of tragedy as the characters fall one by one, leaving Valjean dragging a wounded Marius to safety, allowing his prayer from the emotional song "Bring Him Home" to come to pass. A very impressive portion of the company makes up the students, citizens, and the ensemble and give songs such as "The People's Song" and "One Day More" that full, awe-inspiring sound of a people rallying for a cause they believe in whole-heartedly.
The entire company is of the highest caliber and, along with a breathtaking set, allow you to feel completely immersed in the story and the setting from beginning to end, leaving like you've gone through the revolution along with them. This production is sensational and must be seen to be believed! The tour opens in South Bend, Indiana next week and runs from March 19th to March 24th. You can find a link to the tour's itinerary below to purchase tickets.