BWW Review: LES MISERABLES at Robinson Performance Hall Dazzles in its Return to Little Rock
It's wonderful to have this iconic musical based on the French revolution return to Arkansas, especially to Little Rock. The city's name is derived from La Petite Roche (the "little rock" in French), a small rock formation on the south bank of the Arkansas River that was used as a navigational landmark for early river travelers. It seems fitting that this landmark musical grace the newly refurbished Robinson Performance Hall with it's own redesigned production. The stage settings of this new interpretation are magnificent. The moment you enter the theater and see the beautiful drop and the towering buildings on either side of the proscenium, you are transported to France in the early 1800's.
Jean Valjean as portrayed powerfully by Nick Cartell brings the passion and pain that is Jean's life. His nemesis, Javert played with conviction and gravitas by Josh Davis is phenomenal. The cat and mouse game they play throughout is like a clash of titans. Their incredible voices are a reminder, that any day these men could be pulled from this tour and thrust into the lead of any number of current Broadway shows. That is one of the most enjoyable aspects of this touring show. The vocal power displayed by every member of the cast is the perfect gift for the holidays. Each member rose to the occasion when it was their time to sing.
You could feel the audience energy growing the entire evening. They were feeding off of the cast and being thrilled by their talent and execution. There are so many memorable moments it's hard to name just a few, however, I will do my best. Thenardier (J. Anthony Crane) and his wife (Allison Guinn) were delightfully wicked and really got to show off their comedic chops as well. Eponine's (Phoenix Best) death brought tears to the eyes of most in the crowd because they fell in love with her heartfelt portrayal. Of course it has to be said that "Bring Him Home" was gut wrenchingly beautiful. In fact, last nights version as sung by Mr. Cartell, was as touching as any I have ever heard.
If Victor Hugo could see this latest version of based on his classic novel, I'm certain he would be very pleased. It is perfectly cast by performers that know how to own a stage with their power and precision. If you think the Statue of Liberty is the greatest gift we have ever received from the French, then get a ticket, grab your flag and go to the Robinson Performance Hall and see Les Miserables. Laurence Connor and James Powell have directed a musical that is modern, majestic and simply magnificent. Les Miz will be in Little Rock until December 3rd before moving on around the country. So march on down so you can "Hear the People Sing"... magnificently!