The sweeping, epic presentation of Les Miserables is still prevalent and powerful when done with the right company of musical theatre artists. The currently touring production has all the goods required to show that Les Miserables still lives up to its reputation. Besides the glorious vocals in this production, it’s the attention to detail by directors Laurence Connor and James Powell which makes this Les Miserables appear as a fresh take on the modern-musical era classic. The clipped pace allows for the earning of the slower, park-and-bark moments, and the leaning into the comedic moments—and not just in the embedded comedic demands by the Thenadiers—is what separates this Les Miserables from its elder productions.
(Nick Cartell (Jean Valjean); Photo credit: Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade)
Nick Cartell is a deeply talented Jean Valjean, utilizing his incredible vocal range to give well-detected nuance and difference to his expositional asides versus passionate pleas. His vocal turns at “Who Am I?,” leading of “One Day More,” and especially in a stunning “Bring Him Home,” showcase Cartell’s acting as strongly as his singing, a difficult task for anyone taking on the hero of this story. Matching his nuance and vocal prowess is Valjean’s adversary, Inspector Javert, played with calculating grounded-ness, is Preston Truman Boyd. Javert’s fall from grace, as Boyd soliloquizes in a triumphant “Stars,” is a torturous yet enjoyable arc to see unfold, and is played with abandon by the imposingly alluring Boyd. Haley Dortch excels as Fantine, the first casualty of our principal cast, a role that ignites Valjean’s journey of patriarchal responsibility. Dortch nails her turn at “I Dreamed a Dream,” giving the audience loads of backstory in her phrasing and delivery of Fantine’s emotional experiences.
(Preston Truman Boyd (Javert); Photo credit: Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade)
Understudies Christopher James Tamayo and Daelynn Carter Jorif, serving as Marius and Eponine respectively, give dynamite commitment and superb vocals to their characters’ journeys. Tamayo’s chemistry opposite Addie Morales’s pitch-perfect Cosette is believable in its immediacy and enduring dedication. Jorif garners the needed sympathy in “A Heart Full of Love,” a terrifically delivered trio by her, Tamayo, and Morales, and stamps Jorif’s performance with a seal of excellence in her turn at “On My Own.” Devin Archer is a big-voiced and impactful Enjolras; Christina Rose Hall and Matt Crowle are terrific as the terrible Thenadiers, making every bit of comedy and slapstick delivery earnest and well-needed among the drama in a fabulously executed “Master of the House” and again in act two’s “Beggars at the Feast.”
(Center-Matt Crowle (Thenadier) and Christina Rose Hall (Madame Thenadier) with the Les Miserables ensemble surrounding; Photo credit: Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade)
Paule Constable’s lighting design is given a beautiful landscape to light among Matt Kinley’s excellent set and image design. The lighting, mixed with fog effects, make the shadows as illuminating to the plot-driving and near-cinematic poignancy while giving layers of intensity when called for in Connor and Powell’s staging, especially when Javert and Valjean are in lurking and hunting modes. Geoffrey Garratt’s musical staging provides swift movements in “One Day More,” a gloriously somber “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables,” and more upbeat enjoyment in the “Wedding Chorale,” all of which are expertly executed by the ensemble. Les Miserables is, indeed, an epic, and this cast gives the glorious score a soaring tribute in all aspects, so I swear that, if you can, you must see this show; this I swear by the stars.