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BWW Reviews: Pioneer Theatre Company's LES MISERABLES is Impressive

The Utah favorite Les Miserables has once again been impressively mounted at Pioneer Theatre Company (following the record-breaking first regional premiere in 2007).

Les Miserables (a musical by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg, with lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer) is based on the novel by Victor Hugo. It is the epic story of Jean Valjean, who spends his life running from the law because he stole a loaf of bread to save his family, and those he comes in contact with, including the students involved in the Paris Uprising of 1832. It is a powerful, classic tale of love, strength, and redemption told through beautiful music that is now iconic in its own right.

During the final moments of this production, Eponine (Manna Nichols) and Fantine (Kelly McCormick), who have appeared as spirits to a dying Valjean, change their focus to those who they loved most in the world. Eponine gazes longingly at her lost love, Marius, and Fantine is filled with pride at the sight of her beloved daughter, Cosette, grown and married. Ingeniously reinvented, beautifully staged moments such as this one are scattered throughout the show. It is unfortunate that more of the scenes and musical moments are not reimagined in this way. Instead, the tried and true is mostly relied on. This creates the comfort of familiarity, which is laudable in its own right, if not as thrilling as a reinterpretation would be.

Director Charles Morey and choreographer Karen Azenberg (the recent and current artistic directors of the theatre, respectively) are to be commended for the sheer magnitude of the production they have mounted. The large number of actors/singers in the cast (all impressive in their performances), the difficulty of the material, and the large-scale production are all reasons that this accomplishment shouldn't be taken for granted.

Joe Cassidy as Valjean and Josh Davis as Javert head up an impressive leading cast. Both have incredible voices and wonderfully communicate their characters' motivations.

Dale Hensley as Thénardier and Christianne Tisdale as his wife are both very strong performers, always offering up their comic relief with strong vocals and a dash of irony.

Other standouts include Perry Sherman as Marius, Kevin Vortmann as Enjolras, and Manna Nichols as Eponine.

Costume designer K.L. Alberts, along with hair and makeup designer Amanda French, has created an idyllic, painterly period setting while still communicating the poverty of many of the characters. Scenic designer George Maxwell has done a lovely job of incorporating the traditional turntable of the original staging within a historic world of stone and shutters. Karl E. Haas' lighting complements the rest of the production design while enhancing the mood of each scene.

This production is one that fans of Les Miserables, and especially of its original staging, will love.

Les Miserables plays through June 1, 2013. For tickets, call the box office at 801-581-6961 or visit

Photo Credit: Joe Cassidy (Valjean) surrounded by, L-R, Melissa Mitchell (Cosette), Manna Nichols (Eponine), Kelly McCormick (Fantine) and Perry Sherman (Marius). Photo by Alexander Weisman.

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From This Author Tyler Hinton