Voices soft as thunder.
Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg
Lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer
Original French text by Alain Boubill and Jean-Marc Natel
English language libretto by Herbert Kretzmer
Directed by Brian Kite
Musical Direction by John Glaudini
Presented by La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts and McCoy Rigby Entertainment
I wasn’t part of the Les Mis frenzy many years ago when the big production came to town after its successful run in the West End and on Broadway. Saw the 2012 film, read Victor Hugo’s novel in college but never, ever saw it on stage. This reckless behavior was finally corrected in full last weekend at The Los Angeles Regional Theatre premiere of Les Misérables at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts in their last production of the current season. As Director Brian Kite noted, “There has never been another full-scale production of the show in major touring markets until now.”
As my evening companion counter-intuitively put it, “Everyone is happy when they see Les Mis!” And she was right. The audience—a sell-out—was hanging on every word and enthusiastically applauding those big, grand, inspiring performances. You could feel the energy. It’s the magic of theatre at work; no matter how well you might know the story, it’s always an extra thrill to experience it performed and live in a place where auto-tune and do-overs are far away. Although I only had a general familiarity with the songbook, I was still caught up in amazement at how damn well everyone could sing. Each and every cast member, at all times, down to the last note. I know they’re professionals but still, they’re also human.
Les Misérables is notoriously difficult material to sing; the boys must go high and the girls go low in several two-octave-range songs. Broadway, TV and film veteran James Barbour plays lead Jean Valjean and masterfully conveys the soulful journey that the original plot certainly demands—that of a man who progresses from criminal to citizen, from godless to godly, from selfishness to altruism. The interacting and equally important additional plot lines are no less than young love, parenting, how to deal with (or become) scoundrels, the meaning of life and the spectacle that is revolution, French-style.
Valjean’s lifelong pursuer policeman Javert is played by Long Beach native Randall Dodge, and a big kudos goes to the Les Misérables design team (Cliff Simon, Steven Young, Josh Besom, Terry Hanrahan) who, especially with a minimal set, handled Javert’s final scene with a creative twist. The snaky spouses, the Thenardiers, reach comic perfection in the hands of Jeff Skowron and Meeghan Holaway. Cassandra Murphy is Fantine who, although her onstage time is short, is responsible for belting out the musical’s signature number I Dreamed a Dream. Cosette is played by recent USC grad Kimberly Hessler while her childhood friend is played by busy actress Valerie Rose Curiel. The girls’ mutual love interest Marius is played by Nathaniel Irvin. Last but definitely not least is young Jude Mason who earned the hugest applause of the night for his Artful Dodger-inspired rendition of Gavroche. Musical Director John Glaudini performs big-sized miracles with a 13-piece orchestra that sounds three times its size. Bravo.
No doubt that this revival of Les Misérables was well worth the wait on my part. See it now while it’s on stage so close and being performed so incredibly well. Do you hear the people sing? You should.
Tickets are available online at the theatre’s website: www.lamiradatheatre.com or by calling or call (562) 944-9801 to order by phone.
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
14900 La Mirada Blvd.
La Mirada, CA 90638
(near the intersection of Rosecrans Ave. where the 91 and 5 freeways meet)
Plenty of free parking.
This theatre has concessions.
Now through Sunday, June 22, 2014
Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.
Fridays at 8:00 p.m.
Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Sundays at 2:00 p.m.
Sunday, June 15 at 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, June 22 at 7:00 p.m.
Talkback with the actors on Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Running time is about 3 hours with one intermission.
From $20 - $70.
Student, Senior and Group discounts are available.