A version of Les Misérables, the longest running Broadway musical of all time, has made its way to the Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre.
Based on the epic novel by Victor Hugo, Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s musical intertwines the lives of several characters as they cope with issues of social justice, forgiveness and atonement during the French Revolution of 1832.
Because Les Mis‘ score calls for firm acting and musical skills, it is a very difficult task to undertake, especially for a smaller theatre. Though some of the actors had prestigious credentials, the majority of the cast failed to adequately demonstrate their talents. Trent Blanton, who played Javert, Jean Valjean’s pursuer, had the musical chops for the role but he left this critic indifferent and bored by his failed attempt to portray Javert’s stubbornness and intimidating nature.
Christopher Hudson Myers and Nikka Wahl’s representation of Cosette and Marius’s love at first sight was less than convincing; though the characters’ instant attraction is a difficult task to pull off, their performance of “A Heart Full of Love” bordered on parody to such a degree that, at one point, the audience burst into laughter.
All things considered, the show had some perks, including director David Arisco’s castings of David Michael Felty as Valjean and Gwen Hollander as Eponine. Their voices were pleasing, and they displayed a genuine understanding of their characters’ intentions and motivations. However, the shining moments of the show were revealed in the scenes involving Gary Marachek and Margot Moreland as M. and Mme. Thénardier, with their contagious energy and hilarious chemistry as a pair.
Though the Actors’ Playhouse’s production of Les Misérables did little to woo fans of the show, newcomers may still be courted by the story’s richness and the performers’ musicality.
If You Go:
What: Les Misérables
Where : Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre
When : March 4-April 5 Wed.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 2 p.m.
Cost: $15 for students on weeknights 15 minutes prior to show. Otherwise, $35-48