Theatre Thursdays: The Les Mis Touring Show

Alrighty, I saw Les Miserables at Pittsburgh’s Benedum Center the other night, so it’s review time!Home_page_rotator_LesMis.sflb.ashx

It’s been actualfax years since the last time I saw Les Mis on stage, it was nice, coming back, but there were actually a few things I liked about the movie more (heresy, omg ikr). Of these, I most liked the way the movie put “I Dreamed A Dream” after Fantine falls into prostitution and despair instead of right after she’s fired. I feel like it gives the song (which is obviously already really heavy stuff) more emotional weight.

There was a lot of good stuff in this production. Valjean and Javert were great; Marius was downright awesome, and the Thenardiers were very funny. I thought Fantine had a great voice, but I didn’t like her characterization, and I found Cosette squeaky.

I found it interesting that none of the actors did any sort of accent. I do often point out the silliness of the characters all being French people speaking English with British accents, but for Thenardier in particular it was sort of strange. I’m just used to him sounding Cockney, I guess.

The costumes and sets were really beautiful. Although I appreciate the more realistic attire they put Aaron Tveit in in the movie, there is a special place in my heart for that red and gold monstrosity of Enjolras’, so it was nice to see that.

The backgrounds were based on paintings done by Victor Hugo himself and projected on the back wall.  Although I feel like projected backgrounds can be hit or miss, I think they really worked in this instance. They did some neat things with them too during the sewer scenes and “One Day More” to make it look like the characters were actually wading through a sewer or marching down a street.

This is the first time I’ve seen the newer staging (without the revolving stage), and I… don’t know how I feel about “Javert’s Suicide” in this case. I am sort of a fan of the bridge-flies-up, arms-flail, rolls-off-the-stage version that I used to know, and I felt like this one looked a little corny. The lack of spinning stage meant the shot of dead Enjolras was different too, and I really like the hanging-off-the-barricade original version better as well.

My biggest complaint about the production in general was that everyone seemed very angry. Valjean traded sung lines for hollering relatively often; Fantine furiously spat out the recitative that preceded “I Dreamed a Dream”; and Thenardier screamed a lot, it seemed, for the shock value of it. I wasn’t a fan of this at all generally, but it bugged me in Fantine’s case specifically. I’m all about strong independent women who don’t need no man, but Fantine isn’t supposed to be a spitfire. She’s a very young woman who has just lost all the hope in her life and is crushed by the system. I felt like the anger this Fantine put into her performance took away from the depressingness of her story.

Has anyone else seen the touring production? What were your thoughts?

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About Lady Saika

"We lead frantic lives. Filled with needs and responsibilities, but completely devoid of any actual purpose. I say let’s try to enjoy the simple things. Life should be like a basket of chicken wings: salty, full of fat and vinegar, and surrounded by celery you’ll never actually eat, even when you’re greedily sopping up the last viscous streaks of buffalo sauce from the wax paper with your spit-stained index finger. Yes, that is as life should be, Night Vale."

4 thoughts on “Theatre Thursdays: The Les Mis Touring Show

  1. I’ve been thinking a lot about the placement of IDAD because it was so powerful in the movie, and I feel like it works better before “Lovely Ladies” in the stage show. In the movie we can already feel a connection to Fantine because of how much focus she gets during “At the End of the Day” and her descent into prostitution. On stage, without the benefit of close-ups catching the minutiae of the actress’ performance, I think we need that number to invest in Fantine and then care about how wrong her life goes.

    • That’s a good point. In that case, though, I feel like this actress mucked it up more because she was so angry, which didn’t really translate her story or her hopelessness very well…

  2. . Everything seemed a little more “modern” in the character adaptations. ie Marius actually kissing Cosette, angry!Fantine, Javert being portrayed as more of a straight villian. (full disclosure, he’s my favorite, and the versions I like best are where he doesnt BELLOW all his lines with RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION! …Like, obvi when he says, “clear this garbage off the street!” yes, that’s a bellowing line, but I’ve seem him deliver the lines before, “everyone about your business” with more of a, “come on people, let’s all behave like grownups” voice and not a “I FIND YOU ALL PEASANTS tone”
    Also, did they cut gavorche’s lines? I was bummed about that, although his death, I thought, with it being off stage, was way more heart wrenching. You got the sense the ABC boys cared about him a lot.
    Also, I have a hard time laughing at the Thenardiers, accent or not, after reading a Hugo quote that says they’re alive at the end of the novel to show that true evil will always be in our world….

  3. Pingback: Theatre Thursdays: Diversity, Obligation, and Storytelling | Lady Geek Girl and Friends

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