Hi everyone! This past weekend I finally saw the musical Les Miserables! I feel like it’s a musical that everyone has seen and loved. I was actually worried I wouldn’t like it since I wasn’t too into the movie but it was part of my subscription to Broadway In Chicago and I figured I’d give it a shot.
To be honest I almost didn’t go. The day was terribly rainy, I had work to do for my midterm, I had gotten in late from working with my group for the midterm the night before, and I wanted a lazy weekend for once! But I sucked it up, packed up my laptop, and headed out.
As always I took the train downtown and once I arrived I headed to Barnes & Noble. It was in the opposite direction as the theatre but ah well. Since it was pouring I quickly ran into Target but it didn’t seem to let up so off I went and soon arrived. I ordered at the Starbucks (I get a free drink once a month now thanks to my membership, not sponsored but they should sponsor me lol) and sat by the window. I was actually facing John Marshall Law School, where I would love to go if I wanted to study law, and got to work. I read through our paper and then finished up coordinating the next three meetings with my group before our presentation on Tuesday.
After a few hours of that I headed back out towards the theatre. I arrived a little early and sat down. I had the same seat but just in a different theatre. Front row right balcony, third seat in. I though Champagne Ladies would join me but maybe they switched their seats or were seated elsewhere in the theatre. Instead a mom and her young daughter joined me. Typically when I’ve sat by kids they’ve been horribly annoying but this girl was very well behaved and said her please and thank yous! The rest of the row was surprisingly empty.
Before the first act started the ushers made it clear that it was an hour and a half long and that if you got up during the performance you wouldn’t get back in so to go potty now or make sure you can wait. She said it nicer of course. Even so I saw a ton of people coming in.
Now onto the review! Per usual, I’ll do a spoiler free review and a spoiler review. The spoilers will be stated before hand and will be in between the photos of the stage below (photo of just the stage, not the one with the Playbill in it).
The set looked intricate already when we walked in. It was set up with some wooden scaffolding, building facades on the sides with balconies, and a lovely backdrop. Throughout the production they were moved in and out of view. Other sets were just as elaborate. The barricades were really impressive.
In terms of staging, I felt that it was either really elaborate or really simple. There really wasn’t any in between. Everyone that was on stage was there for a reason, for the most part. What I mean by that if an actor was on stage it was because they had a specific action or role to perform, rather than to make the stage look populated. For example, in when I saw Aladdin or Beauty and the Beast, when the scene was in the market place in Agrabah or the little town, there were actors onstage that literally just there to make it look like a busy market or town. Even when the setting moved to Paris, this didn’t happen in Les Mis, so it was nice to focus on just the story going on.
I thought the acting was very good. Even the children were great. Most of the singing was really good, as was the music. Unfortunately Eponine’s parts were disappointing to me. I thought she did all her major songs amazingly but her smaller pieces, particularly the ones where she’s teasing Marius sounded pinch-y. Fantine, Jean Valjean, Cosette, Gavroche, and Javert were my favorite of the performers. They all did an amazing performance both acting and singing wise.
Marius was pretty good but there were quite a few things that looked and sounded like mistakes from him. At one point he did drop the actor he was lifting but they did a great job of continuing the performance. However they moved downstage and another actor leaned over to ask her if she was okay after the fall which just drew more attention to it. I suppose that dancer might have been the dance captain or something and it was likely her job to make sure that the actor could continue but it was quite obvious, even from the balcony where I was. Especially since they were right in front of the audience. As I haven’t seen it before it’s hard to say but that’s what it came across as.
The ensemble as a whole was great. They were always in sync and seemed to have a great chemistry as a whole.
Overall the performance was great. The cast had to come back out multiple times, about three, as the crowd wouldn’t stop applauding them.
Side note, one thing that annoys me is the people that will leave just as it’s ending. The performers worked hard for three hours and deserve to be acknowledged at the end. I think it’s only right that the audience take and extra minute to say thank you to the hardworking company.
Okay, onto the spoiler section!
It’s always hard to decide what is spoiler-y and non-spoiler-y with these types of productions that everyone knows. But here we go!
Like I said, the acting was great. Fantine was absolutely wonderful, particularly when she came back out at the finale. Eponine was particularly great in “On My Own” and “A Little Fall of Rain”. Cosette was amazing in the production. I found myself watching her in the songs “A Heart Full of Love” and Young Cosette did a great job with “Castle on a Cloud”. Gavroche was an amazing young actor as well, and I was impressed with his acting.
I loved Jean Valjean, both the character and actor. The character is so flawed, even after reform. However he entirely turns around when he adopts Cosette after Fantine’s death.
The costumes were great, particularly the wigs. Since the story spans through many years, there are many changes to cover. The Thenadier’s costumes were over the top in “Beggars at the Feast” while Cosette and Jean Valjean’s were simple and elegant. The university boys, including Enjolras and Marius were distinguished and the children looked adorable in their costumes. The wigs were also updated as the musical went on. For example, Jean Valjean and Javert do age so their wigs were grey towards the end of the production, and since Fantine has her hair cut off, then that was also a major hair change that was required.
So that’s my review! I enjoyed it a lot more on the stage than the film and was quite impressed. I’m glad I was able to see it through my subscription. I don’t quite know if it’s one I would see again soon but I would love to see it again someday.
Let me know if you’ve seen Les Mis and, if so, what did you think?
Thanks for reading!
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