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Broadway in Richmond Les Miserables

By • Mar 27th, 2013 • Category: Reviews
Les Miserables
Broadway in Richmond: (Info) (Web)
Landmark Theater, Richmond, VA
Through March 31st
3:00 with intermission
$38-$98 (plus significant fees for online orders)
Reviewed March 26th, 2013

The theme for this week seems to be reviewing the classics in theater. Even people who are not big fans of Musical Theater have to have been living under a rock for the past year to not be familiar with Les Miserables.

The Broadway musical became a multiple Academy Award winning film this year, starring Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway. As such, it is hard not to make comparisons. This 25th anniversary production of Boublil & Schönberg’s musical is presented by Cameron Mackintosh with new staging and scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo.

For those who have indeed been living under a rock, the story is based on the novel by Victor Hugo. It revolves around Jean Valjean, who is paroled after a 19 year prison sentence for stealing bread to feed his family in 1815 France. With the brand of a parolee, he can not find work, so he recreates himself and starts a new life. He becomes a Mayor and a factory owner. A worker in his factory, Fantine, is fired and suffers numerous indignities which lead to her death. Before she dies, she entrusts the care of her daughter Cosette to Valjean. All the while Valjean is fleeing from Prison Guard Javert amidst the backdrop of the French Revolution.

Having seen the original Broadway run, several national tours, the various PBS anniversary broadcasts and the movie, I came in with quite a lot to compare this production to. I have to say there are only 3 words to describe it: A-MAY-ZING!

The sets themselves are breathtaking (especially the three-story buildings), and combined with the backdrops of Hugo’s dark and haunting paintings; each scene becomes a portrait in and of itself. As my guest for the evening, Emily, said, compared to the movie, it was “art.”

The performances are just as awe-inspiring. Peter Lockyer exceeds Hugh Jackman both in voice and in his ability to portray Valjean; not only in youth, but as an old man as well. His transformation both physically and vocally make him literally unrecognizable as the same actor.

Andrew Varela as his nemesis Javert possesses everything Rusell Crowe lacked. His booming baritone and commanding presence are only upstaged by the show-stopping special effects in his death scene.

While much was made of Anne Hathaway’s “one take” songs, that is what Broadway actresses do every night. And while Genevieve Leclerc’s Fantine lacked some of Hathaways’s emotions and tears, she more than compensated with her vocal quality, purity and control.

The toughest shoes to fill for me were left to Eponine. While Samantha Barks (who was in the movie and the 25th anniversary concert) is the epitome of Eponine, Briana Carlson-Goodman comes a close second. She made the character and the signature song “On My Own” — her own. Her death scene is like a master class in acting and singing.

Lauren Wiley and Devin Ilaw were young, sweet and innocent as Cosette and Marius. Shawna M. Hamic was a show stopper as Madame Thenadier, and together with understudy James Zannelli as Thenadier, the pair were a much better fit for the roles than Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter. Gaten Matarazzo was also a scene stealer as young Gavroche.

The only flaws I could find were with minor things like poorly placed head mics and slightly askew wigs, plus a couple of dropped lyrics (with music this familiar, it is noticeable).

Beyond that, I can not encourage you enough to catch this tour. If the only Les Mis you know is the movie; you are missing a lot!

The Cast

  • Jean Valjean: Peter Lockyer
  • Javert: Andrew Varela
  • Farmer: John Rapson
  • Laborer: Matt Rosell
  • Innkeeper’s wife: Natalie Beck
  • Innkeeper: Joseph Spieldenner
  • The Bishop if Digne: Joseph Spieldenner
  • Constables: Ian Patrick Gibb, Alan Shaw
  • Factory Foreman: Richard Todd Adams
  • Fantine: Genevieve Leclerc
  • Factory Girl: Jessica Keenan Wynn
  • Old Woman: Katie Beetham
  • Wigmaker: Cornelia Luna
  • Bamatabois: John Rapson
  • Fauchelevent: Eric Van Tielen
  • Champmathieu: Aaron Walpole
  • Thenardier: James Zannelli
  • Little Cosettte: Erin Cearlock
  • Madame Thenardier: Shawna M. Hamic
  • Young Eponine: Ava Della Pietra
  • Gavroche: Gaten Matarazzo
  • Young Whore: Brittney Johnson
  • Crazy Whore: Andreane Bouladier
  • Eponine: Briana Carlson-Goodman
  • Cosette: Lauren Wiley
  • Thenadier’s Gang
    • Montparnasse: Matt Rosell
    • Baber: Richard Barth
    • Brujon: Aaron Walpole
    • Claquesous: John Rapson
  • Students
    • Enjolras: Jason Forbach
    • Marius: Devin Ilaw
    • Combeferre: Eric Van Tielen
    • Feuily: Weston Wells Olson
    • Courfeyrac: John Brink
    • Joly: Alan Shaw
    • Grantaire: Joseph Spieldenner
    • Lesgles: Richard Todd Adams
    • Jean Prouvaire: Ian Patrick Gibb
  • Loud Hailer: Aaron Walpole
  • Major Domo: Joseph Spieldenner
  • Ensemble: Natalie Beck, Katie Beetham, Andreane Bouladier, Erin Clemons, Mia Sinclair Jenness, Britney Johnson, Cornelia Luna, Alexandra Melrose, Jessica Keenan Wynn

The Crew

  • Directed by: Laurence Connor and James Powell
  • Associate Director: Anthony Lyn
  • Musical Director: Lawrence Goldberg
  • Musical Supervisor: David Caddick
  • Stage Management: Trinity Wheeler, Heather Chockley, Mitchell B. Hodges
  • Musical Staging: Michael Ashcroft
  • Set Design: Matt Kinley
  • Lighting Design: Paule Constable
  • Costume Design: Andreane Neofitou
  • Additional Costumes: Christine Rowland
  • Sound Design: Mick Potter
  • Conductor: Lawrence Goldberg
  • Dance and Fight Captain: Ben Gunderson
  • Assistant Fight Captain: Heather Chockley

Disclaimer: Broadway in Richmond provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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is by day a Special Education teacher, teaching History, Science and drama to Middle and High School students in a private Day School in Stafford. He has degrees in Educational Media and Special Education. He is also a part time Radio News Anchor and occasional actor in the Richmond area. Bruce is a native of New Jersey and spent most of his "adult" life in Upstate New York, where he started and ran a national award winning youth theater and cable television program for over 10 years. He has lived in Virginia since 2002, and in Caroline County since 2005, where he is active in many community groups; including serving on the Board of Caroline's Promise.

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