"Les Miz" returns Triumphant to Sergstrom Hall

Living in Los Angeles, I rarely head down to Orange County. So I was pleased when I realized it took me less than an hour to drive in 7 p.m. traffic from Hollywood to the Orange County Performing Arts Center.

At my first sight of the beautiful and dramatic Sergstrom Hall, I was amazed, surprised to see such a large elegant structure. Many restaurants and shopping facilities surround the Center itself, making coming to the OCPAC an experience I would like to turn into a habit.

The interior of Sergstrom Hall is stark and elegant with some of the most unusual architectural seating arrangements I have ever seen. My date and I were lucky enough to be in the orchestra section on the 10th row, just off-center. Our view was wonderful and the clarity of the sound was outstanding. Behind us, the seats were arranged in an interesting series of angles and shapes proceeding up to a set of high balconies. The seats themselves were comfortable with legroom ample enough that we never had to stand to let others pass in front of us.

I took the trek out from Los Angeles to OCPAC to see the touring company of Les Misérables. Based on Victor Hugo's classical novel, Les Misérables, the musical is an epic saga that sweeps through three turbulent decades of 19th century France. It is the story of one man, the fugitive Jean Valjean, who is pitted against the cruel and self-righteous Inspector Javert in a lifelong struggle to evade capture. Now in its 17th year in London and 16th year on Broadway, Les Misérables has won 50 awards internationally, including the 1987 Tony Award for Best Musical.

This $4.2 million dollar production replicates the Broadway production in its entirety. With the exception of the actors, it is a carbon copy of the original production, including the 34 foot turntable, two barricades that weigh over 12,00 pounds, over 1,000 costume pieces, 5 fog machines, 422 lighting instruments, 18 orchestra members, and 36 cast members.

The care and attention to detail that has gone into keeping this production as pure as the original is evident not only in the incredible costumes and sets, but in the tightly well matched cast. It is an unusual pleasure to see a touring company with such a consistently solid cast. Although the acting was excellent, I did feel some of the voices could have been stronger. However, this did not apply to Ivan Rutherford as Jean Valjean, who returns to the touring company after his third Broadway engagement of the same role. Ivan's voice and performance were strong enough that he seemed to make the audience forget about the less powerful voices. One of the best performances and voices came from Dallyn Vail Bayles, who not only looked the part but also gave a powerful performance as the student leader Enjolras. Worth mentioning were eight year old Skylar Harden as Young Cosette, and eleven year old Justen Steingale as Gavroche.

This turned out to be a thoroughly enjoyable experience. I know this musical well, and although I have seen the production before, I was touched and brought to tears many times with the powerful emotion of this classic musical. I definitely recommend you hurry and get your tickets to the show; the run is short, and if the crowd applause and standing ovation are any indication, these tickets will be selling out fast.

Les Misérables, runs from April 8 - 20, 2003. Tickets for Les Misérables, at $64.50, $57.50, $51.50, $44.50, $34.50 and $27.50, are on sale at The Center Box Office, online at The Center's Web site at Ocpac.org, by phone through Ticketmaster at (714) 740-7878 or (213) 365-3500 and at all Ticketmaster outlets. The Center's TTY number is (714) 556-2746. The Saturday, April 19 matinee at 2 p.m. will be sign language interpreted.

Copyright © 2003 LA Splash Magazine. All Rights Reserved. Incorporated. No portion of the contents of this online publication may be reprinted or republished, in whole or in part, without the expressed, written permission of the Publisher.

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