What could be better than everyone’s favorite musical, ‘Les Miz’? How about the ‘new and improved’ Les Miz’?
Last night marked the premiere Detroit engagement of Cameron Mackintosh’s new 25th anniversary production of Les Misérables, which runs at the Fisher Theatre through April 3 as part of the Broadway in Detroit series.
This reviewer thought the ‘old’ staging – with its gigantic center turntable – was pretty spiffy when we saw it all those years ago. So when we heard about the new staging for the 25th Anniversary production, we were admittedly concerned if not outright dubious.
This new production is a joy to watch, with spectacular scenery designed by Matt Kinley that was inspired by the paintings of author and painter Victor Hugo. Taking advantage of new projection and lighting technology, Kinley’s designs deftly employ perspective and motion so that the characters seem to march through the shadowy Paris streets, across the bridges over the Seine and even down into the sewers. During certain scene changes, the ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ of the audience were audible.
Of course, ultimately, ‘Les Miz’ is all about that glorious music, and this amazing cast did it full service. The opening-night Detroit audience members roared their approval at the end of the first half of the show and jumped to their feet in spontaneous ovation at the end. The lead role of Jean Valjean, which the program lists as starring Lawrence Clayton, was in fact performed by alternate Ron Sharpe in the Tuesday opener. Mr. Sharpe is the only actor to have played both Marius and Jean Valjean on Broadway, and he had the Motown crowd eating out of his hand after his first big number.
In addition to Clayton/Sharpe, the U.S. Tour boasts a terrific cast: Andrew Varela as Javert, Michael Kostroff as Thénardier, Shawna M. Hamic as Madame Thénardier, Betsy Morgan as Fantine, Jeremy Hays as Enjolras, Chasten Harmon as Éponine, Justin Scott Brown as Marius and Jenny Latimer as Cosette. Katherine Forrester and Anastasia Korbal alternate in the role of Little Cosette/Young Éponine. Josh Caggiano and Colin DePaula alternate in the role of Gavroche.
The ensemble also includes Richard Todd Adams, Richard Barth, Cathryn Basile, Julie Benko, Cole Burden, Briana Carlson-Goodman, Casey Erin Clark, Jason Forbach, Lucia Giannetta, Ian Patrick Gibb, Cooper Grodin, Ben Gunderson, Beth Kirkpatrick, Cornelia Luna, Benjamin Magnuson, Jason Ostrowski, Max Quinlan, John Rapson, Rachel Rincione, Sarah Shahinian, Alan Shaw, Joseph Spieldenner, Joe Tokarz, Aliya Victoriya and Natalie Weiss.
Seen by nearly 60 million people worldwide in 42 countries and in 21 languages, Les Misérables is undisputedly one of the world’s most popular musicals ever written. There’s no arguing with success, and who would want to? This production is a feast for the eyes and the ears; don’t miss it!
Tickets prices start at $39 and are on sale at the Fisher Theatre box office, all Ticketmaster locations, by phone at 1-800-982-2787, and online at either the Ticketmaster website or the Broadway in Detroit website. Curtain is at 8:00 p.m. for Tuesday through Saturday evening performances, at 2:00 p.m. for Saturday and Sunday matinee performances, and at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday evenings. Book now — this one could sell out.