‘Les Miserables’ still magnificent

Josh Davis (Javert) and Nick Cartell (Jean Valjean) in US tour of 'Les Miserables.' (Matthew Murphy photo)
Josh Davis (Javert) and Nick Cartell (Jean Valjean) in US tour of ‘Les Miserables.’ (Matthew Murphy photo)

4 stars

Don’t worry If you missed “Les Miserables’” revival on the Oct. 2017, Chicago tour stop.

The Cameron Mackintosh production now in town at the Cadillac Palace Theatre through July 27, 2019, is still composer Claude Michel Schönberg and lyricists Alain Boubil and Herbert Kretzmer’s stirring musical. (Original French text by Alain Boubil and Jean-Marc Natel and additional material is by James Fenton and was adapted by Trevor Nunn and John Caird.)

Also don’t worry if some of the scenes in your mind’s eye from earlier productions have changed. What is important is that directors Laurence Connor and James Powell bring the conditions that spawned Victor Hugo’s famed 1862 novel, to life.

Matt Knley’s set and image design goes back to Hugo’s novel and gives audience a feel for 9th century France from 1815 through 1832.

Having translated this tome in high school French class, I couldn’t fathom how it could  be translated into a musical until listening to the 1867 Broadway album (and crying) and seeing it during the 1867 tour (and crying).

The current tour is basically what audiences saw, loved and shed tears at two years ago.

Cast of 'Les Miserables' singing 'One More Day.' (Matthew Murphy photo)
Cast of ‘Les Miserables’ singing ‘One More Day.’ (Matthew Murphy photo)

Nick Cartell is back as Jean Valjean, bringing his powerful voice to his “Soliloquy” pledge to God and goodness in the Prologue and in “Who Am I (24601) ” in Act I, then tempering it to heartbreaking tenderness in “Bring Him Home” in Act II as he prays for Marius who is loved by his ward, Cosette.

Josh Davis has returned as Javert, the obsessed prison guard turned inspector who doesn’t understand Valjean’s snatching of a loaf of bread for a sister’s hungry family or conceive that an already served prison sentence was enough punishment as voiced in his fine baritone in “Stars.”  Although determined his entire professional life to recapture this person who broke parole, Javert has trouble reconciling who Valjean has become.  with the criminal image held on to for so long and so we have Javert’s “Soliloquy”in Act II.

Joshua Grosso is also still on the tour as Marius Pontmercy, the student who is friends with Eponine (the innkeepers’ daughter who secretly loves him) but he has fallen for Cosette. His “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” continues to be a tearjerker in Act II as a reminder of lost friends and loved ones.

What audiences are likely to take away when they leave, however, is the rousing “The People’s Song” sung in Act I by the student rebels, citizens and their leader Matt Shingledecker, a stunning tenor.

“Les Miserables” continues to make an impact on audiences with exciting music and moving melodies.

DETAILS:  “Les Miserables” is at the Cadillac Palace Theatre,  151 W. Randolph St., Chicago, through July 27, 2019. Running time: 2 hrs., 55 min. with one intermission. For tickets and other information visit Broadway in Chicago.

Jodie Jacobs

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

 

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