Sunday, May 4, 2014

theatre review LES MISÉRABLES, Phoenix Theatre, April 26

Caleb Reese and the Cast
To read my complete review of Les Misérables at Talkin' Broadway (highlights below) just click on this link.

The mega-hit musical Les Misérables gets just about everything right in the transfer from book to stage. As one of the most successful stage musicals ever, Les Misérables is a worldwide phenomenon. The show won numerous Tony and Olivier Awards and is still running in London. A second Broadway revival just opened in New York and the musical received a fairly successful film adaptation. Phoenix Theatre presented the show in 2009 and has brought it back this year as an encore presentation. It is a most welcome return. The intimacy of the stunning Phoenix Theatre production brings out the emotional center of this epic tale of struggle and redemption as well as new insight into and understanding of the story.

Based on the classic novel by Victor Hugo, and set in 19th century France, Les Misérables tells the epic story of Jean Valjean who was jailed for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving nephew. When his original five year sentence becomes almost twenty after he tries to escape, he becomes a bitter and desperate man. He is paroled but in a moment of desperation robs a bishop, who in turn saves him; that act of kindness gives him a second chance. How that event turns him into a positive person, along with his redemption and how that changes him, is the force behind the emotional journey of the story. Valjean leaves his past behind to become a changed man and help others around him. The fact that he did run away and is being hunted relentlessly by the police inspector Javert, is the major driving element behind the plot.

This is a co-production with the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, as was the 2009 production, and several of the cast members in the current production also appeared in '09. The cast that the Phoenix Theatre has assembled is phenomenal, with superb voices all around. Douglas Webster returns as Valjean, and is giving a stellar performance. He is one of the best Valjean's I've seen (and I saw about ten on Broadway, including Colm Wilkinson who originated the part and was nominated for a Tony for his performance). Webster provides an intense emotional connection to his songs, giving each lyric an added depth and meaning, with a great deal of thought. His three dramatic solos, "Valjean's Soliloquy," "Who Am I?" and especially the emotional "Bring Him Home," are vivid and profound. It is a performance you won't soon forget.

If you've never seen a production of Les Misérables, or are a fan and want to pay a return visit, the intimate and stunning Phoenix Theatre production is highly recommended.  

Les Misérables runs through May 25th, 2014, at the Phoenix Theatre at 100 E. McDowell Road in Phoenix. Tickets can be purchased at or by calling (602) 254-2151.

Photo: Sara Chambers/Phoenix Theatre

No comments:

Post a Comment