In review: 'Les Misérables' delights with tale of love, revolt
“Les Misérables” is the go-to Broadway production, whether you’re a romantic looking for a sweet love story, a thrill seeker who wants an action-packed war tale or a history buff in search of an educational experience.
No matter what your personal preference is when it comes to theater, this show should be able to meet your demands.
The classic musical, which opened Tuesday night at Wharton Center’s Cobb Great Hall, offers entertainment for all types of playgoers and theater enthusiasts.
Stars: 4 out of 5
Runs until: April 8
Student tickets: $25
Best song: “On My Own”
Best overall performance: Chasten Harmon (Éponine)
Set in 19th-century France, “Les Misérables,” which is based on the novel by Victor Hugo, details the lives of individuals struggling to survive during the French Revolution — a time of political upheaval.
“Les Misérables” takes audience members on an emotional roller coaster ride through the trials and tribulations of a beat-down population of European people.
The story line includes a tale of unrequited love between two main characters, Éponine and Marius, tragic war scenes and destitution. The desperation of the musical’s characters is made apparent in many scenes, including a few that feature impoverished women prostituting themselves to pay their bills, and Jean Valjean, one of the main characters, stealing bread to feed his family — an act that lands him in jail for years.
I had never seen the musical before, and after hearing from several “Les Misérables” fans about how complex the production’s story is, I had expected to become too confused by it to enjoy myself. Fortunately, that was not the case, and I found it fairly easy to follow along with the events and plot twists that occurred throughout the night. In fact, I thought the many subplots planted within the main story made the overall show much more engaging.
Between the personal struggles of Jean Valjean, the tragic deaths throughout the show and the love triangle consisting of Cosette, Éponine and Marius, there hardly was a dull moment, and I found myself constantly entertained by one event after another.
Not only was the evening jam-packed with interesting stories, but it also was filled with melodic masterpieces. The iconic production, which is known for its award-winning soundtrack, included about 25 musical numbers, many of which I remember listening to and loving as a child, such as “I Dreamed A Dream,” “Castle On A Cloud” and “On My Own.”
The first half of the show ended with a powerful performance of the song “One Day More,” which was sung by the show’s entire cast. The harmonious voices of the company filled the auditorium and left me eager to hear what was coming next.
And to my delight, the songs that followed proved to be even more moving and engrossing than the impressive tunes of the first half.
The chill-inducing, emotional performance of “On My Own” by Éponine, which she sings after she realizes she never will have Marius’ heart, easily was the highlight of the entire night. Éponine stole the show with this single performance at the beginning of the second half and made her vocal talent apparent.
Unfortunately, the highly anticipated performance of “I Dreamed A Dream” by Cosette’s mother Fantine in the beginning of the show was slightly less impressive and left me feeling disappointed. Although Fantine’s voice was sweet and beautiful, it was not nearly as powerful or raw as Éponine’s and not at all what I expected of one of the show’s most well-known numbers.
Despite one less-than-stellar performance, “Les Misérables” did not disappoint. All the rumors I heard of this production being one of the best there is became facts in my mind after the three hours I spent watching it.