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Les Misérables storms the Benedum Middle with transferring story of redemption

click on to enlarge Les Misérables storms the Benedum Center with moving tale of redemption

Picture: Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

North American nationwide tour of Les Miserables

The North American touring manufacturing of Les Misérables, the basic musical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s epic novel of the identical title, with its dramatic story of affection and redemption within the chaotic aftermath of the French Revolution, got here to the Benedum Middle this week.

Les Mis examines the weighty themes of sin, redemption, and struggling, within the context of the character Jean Valjean (Nick Cartell), a person just lately launched from a harsh jail sentence. He takes on a brand new id to keep away from the stigma of his earlier incarceration, and his foe Javert (Hayden Tee), the police inspector who’s bizarrely, even perhaps erotically, obsessive about catching him.

The rating, written by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg, is a roughly three-hour piece of music characterised by its dramatic verve, and layered and repetitive use of a small variety of melodies. Some are catchier and extra outstanding than others, however Schönberg’s recurring motifs go a protracted option to serving to an unlimited, generally meandering story stay cohesive.

Within the present’s prologue, Valjean, offended that the federal government has taken 19 years of his life and labor, is beholden to nobody till he meets a priest who reveals him compassion even after Valjean’s unsuccessful try and rob him. As an alternative of turning him over to the police, the priest tells Valjean that he has redeemed his soul on behalf of God and offers him cash to begin a brand new life.

Valjean begins over regardless of Javert continuously turning up, forcing him to flee. As he strikes from place to put, Valjean dangers his life to do what he thinks is true, first caring for Fantine (Haley Dortch), his ex-employee who’s dying of tuberculosis, after which her daughter Cosette, who he adopts as his personal. Cartell performs Valjean with a surprising vocal register who seems to not age all through many of the present’s two-decade span.

click on to enlarge Les Misérables storms the Benedum Center with moving tale of redemption

Picture: Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

Nick Cartell as Jean Valjean in Les Misérables

Later, the musical flirts with political and social critique via a secondary plot involving pupil revolutionaries agitating for the Paris Rebellion of 1832, however in the end has extra to say about private slightly than social change. (The musical’s iconic depiction of the lethal Paris Rebellion is predicated on Victor Hugo’s expertise of the particular rebellion.)

The rebellion as an alternative serves as a super-charged backdrop for the romance between Cosette (Addie Morales) and Marius (Gregory Lee Rodriguez), one of many pupil leaders of the rebellion. Cosette and Marius are each, sadly, and thru no fault of the performers, vastly much less compelling characters than their friends and will use the energetic increase.

A lot of the manufacturing’s design components and lots of the performances are well-executed however considerably unimaginative. They arrive collectively as proficient and generally transferring, the highlights of which happen when the present breaks, even barely, with its conventional interpretations.

The visible panorama of this manufacturing is appropriately gloomy for a Nineteenth-century-set musical whose title is French for “the miserables,” putting scenes of dire rural and concrete poverty in entrance of moody, impressionist backdrops framed by towering tenement facades and periodically flooded with smog. Understated lighting by Ben Jacobs and Karen Spahn makes efficient use of white gentle to emphasise the characters’ grim environment. Administrators Laurence Connor and James Powell use an enormous and vigorous ensemble to painting poor folks as a mass of scary gremlins.

Usually, ever since John Napier’s lauded set design for the present’s preliminary Broadway and West Finish runs within the mid-Nineteen Eighties, set designers have relied on a turntable embedded within the stage to execute the present’s fluid timeline. This manufacturing, with set design by David Harris and Christine Peters, takes a barely completely different, extra cinematic method to maneuver the story via time and house, utilizing projected backdrops and frequent swift, automated set modifications. These excessive manufacturing values facilitate seamless transitions from scene to scene because the story sweeps via a long time, pausing solely a handful of instances for applause.

The projections designed by Simon Harding and Jonathan Lyle function via many of the present with blended results. At instances, the projected backdrops bounced subtly all through a scene, and have been essential to the execution of the present’s tense Act Two sequence, which begins on the scene of the battle, sinks under floor into the sewers, and ends with Javert’s demise. One critique can be that the projections by no means fairly achieved the meant phantasm of the rebellion’s dogged ahead march.

click on to enlarge Les Misérables storms the Benedum Center with moving tale of redemption

Picture: Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

Christine Heesun Hwang as Eponine in Les Misérables

Among the many performers, who’re all expert and well-cast, Christine Heesun Hwang stands out as Éponine, one of many play’s most tragic characters, partially as a result of her extra modern vocal fashion cuts via the generally monotonous, florid vibrato of many soloists. Hwang and Dortch ship masterful and transferring renditions of two of musical theater’s most dramatic and bold ballads “On My Personal,” and “I Dreamed a Dream,” respectively, which are directly pretty and wrenching.

The musical’s chief shortcoming, for my part, is that Bublil and Schönberg have nearly completely stripped the plot of historic or political context. The inventive crew way back sacrificed each context and character growth to raised convey the musical’s simplistic, melodramatic story vaguely propped up by lofty beliefs. Because of this, in all probability irrespective of who mounts the manufacturing, Les Mis is already ill-fated lengthy earlier than the musical tragedy begins.

Les Misérables. Continues via Solar., Nov. 27. Benedum Middle. Seventh St. and Penn Ave., Downtown. $35-155.

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