“Do you hear the people sing?” The touring production of Les Miserables will be showing at the Orpheum Theatre from December 6-18. The play gives the audience an emotional ride through the life of Jean Valjean and his relational ties. Valjean (J. Mark McVey) is hiding as the mayor of St. Michel from Javert (Andrew Varela), a police officer. The slums of the city hold people with dreams of just being able to make it through the night. When General Lamarque, the only lasting advocate for the poor, dies; the wealthy students of the town make plans to fight for the underprivileged. It has almost been one hundred and fifty years since Victor Hugo wrote his purposefully inspiring book Les Miserables. Through the zeitgeist of then to that of now, audiences are still passionately moved by the timeless theme of revolution.
Through the chaos of war, two voices were heard clearly above the noise. Eponine (Chasten Harmon) sang with an echoing passion of her secret love in “On My Own.” I could feel the pain through her powerful dulcet voice. The spunky orphan Gavroche (Sam Poon) stole the show. At one point in the production he stares Javert down and mimics him when trying to get the people to leave the streets, “Get on. Get outta here! Yeah, you too!” Fantine (Betsy Morgan) had a voice that did not bode well with my ears. During the first act, I was not entirely convinced with McVey’s character. However, after the song “Bring Him Home”, I was brought into his world; a world where time flies by and so do the lives of our loved ones. The acting was convincing, but not so much the minor fight scenes scattered throughout the play. The orchestra was on beat and flawless, especially during Fantine’s Death where they played sorrowfully and gently. The two emotions collided into a melodious, comforting sound.
A multitude of emotions from under the sun and the grime of the city reside in the castle of technical elements from Les Miserables. Everything from the professionally constructed backdrops to extraordinary and realistic set to the brilliant light design by Paule Constable. The backdrops were, at times, moving graphics and gave the impression of depth. The set transitioned smoothly and quickly, and portrayed a raw view of the city. The lighting was spectacular. From the very beginning, the lights made impressions of waves and later on snow. There were times where a soft orange light was used that perfectly resembled a setting sun. On top of everything, the costumes were of era and gave insight into each character. Madame Thenardier (Shawna M. Hamic) during “Beggars at the Feast” wore an enormous fluffy pink dress topped with a hair piece a foot high that was made up of pink and purple feathers. The decorations on this musical cake were much to be desired and feasted on with hungry eye.
The some of the actors’ singing styles were displeasing to me, however there were other characters with voices so soothing; one might think angels were performing. Hats off to the scenery and light designs. I would recommend this show to anyone in a mature audience, for suggestive elements, mild language, and inspirational tone. “It is the music of a people who are climbing to the light.”