BWW Review: LES MISERABLES at Majestic Theatre
LES MISERABLES was first introduced to the world via Victor Hugo's novel nicknamed the Brick because of its length. Hugo packed so many things in his novel including detailed chapters about the Battle of Waterloo. Although, many mistakenly think that the LES MISERABLES Musical is about the French Revolution and the Battle of Waterloo, it is, in fact, about the June 1832 Rebellion or the Paris Uprising of 1832 after the death of reformer Jean Maximilien Lamarque. Victor Hugo actually found himself in the middle of this uprising and was forced to seek safety behind the barricades. Thirty years later, Hugo wrote his famous book and included some details of what he experienced as well. Fast forward to 1980 and LES MISERABLES The Musical by Claude-Michel Schönberg (music), Alain Boublil, and Jean-Marc Natel (original French lyrics) debuted in Paris. It was 1985 when LES MISERABLES debuted with English lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer as Cameron Mackintosh produced the English version at the West End that ran from October 1985 until July 2019. It was an instant hit and has since had runs on Broadway as well as many other countries. Today, LES MISERABLES is selling-out to crowds all over North America and makes a stop in San Antonio, Texas and the famous Majestic Theatre.
As the first notes of the "Prologue" drifted through the historic Majestic Theatre in San Antonio, Texas, the audience became immediately riveted to the stage in front of them. They anticipated the experience of the live production of LES MISERABLES that would take them on a journey with Jean Valjean going from ruins to redemption. Every part of the masterpiece was beautifully depicted, every detail, superb. The scenery was breathtaking as you looked at all the components including some original artwork of Victor Hugo that was perfectly integrated into the show. The mastermind of Matt Kinley was a sight to behold that included graphic design illusions that made it seem like it was real.
Speaking of real, the voices of the actors involved in LES MISERABLES showed how talented they were and gave the audience many auditable gasps of approval. Nick Cartell played the beloved Jean Valjean and proved he was up for the difficult ranges that are required as the endearing main character. Cartell's voice soared as he belted out "Bring Him Home" and the audience applauded their approval. Cartell was up for the challenge and carried it out exquisitely. As Valjean's nemesis Javert, Andrew Love demonstrated his talents as well. No one wanted to like Javert for chasing after Valjean, but in the end, there was much pity for a man who was only trying to do his job. Love stepped into the role and belted out "Stars" and "Soliloquy" proving that there was a conflicted Javert who could never accept that Valjean was a changed man.
Mary Kate Moore played the part of Fantine and made it her own. Following in the footsteps of the likes of Anne Hathaway and Patti LuPone, Moore seemed to have the voice to pull it off. In the part of Marius, Joshua Grosso seemed a very young Marius. Nevertheless, he proved himself worthy of the love-struck young man who stole the hearts of both Cosette (played by Jillian Butler) and Eponine (played by Paige Smallwood). Butler as Cosette, seemed to have what it took to share a strong connection to her counterpart, Grosso as Marius. Smallwood gave a heart-wrenching performance of "On My Own" as Act 2 opened up. The part of the leader of the student uprising, Enjolras, was played by the talented Matt Shingledecker who has proven himself in previous performances on the Majestic Stage. He also played Fiyero in WICKED that made a stop in San Antonio a few years back. One can't forget to mention the young ones who were a part of the show as well. Annabel Cole played little Cosette and did a fine job singing "Castle on a Cloud." Young Eponine was played by MacKenzie Mercer. Jasper Davenport was the scrappy, smart mouthed little boy, Gavroche. The comic relief came when the Thenardiers hit the stage. Jimmy Smagula and Allison Guinn pulled it off with wit, humor and many slapstick moments. In a show full of miserables, the Thenardiers singing "Master of the House" brought the audience a welcome respite from the sadness that filled the stage.
LES MISERABLES will be in San Antonio, Texas for only one week. Shows are from September 17-22, 2019. Tickets are available through the Majestic Theatre Box Office.
PHOTO CREDIT: Matthew Murphy