Revamped “Les Miz” Returns ToThe Fox
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The 25th Anniversary Edition of “Les Miserables” is now on stage at The Fox thru October 28th. It is an impressive production that has upgraded the imagery and visuals of the show, including the projection of original paintings by Victor Hugo throughout the production. It all powers up the evening with a revised, darker energy, but it also seems to drain some of the very personal emotional connection “Les Miz” has always had with its most ardent devotees. It’s a good show, but in the end this edition seems to be more about staging than soul.
Peter Lockyer as Jean Valjean is physically not as sturdy as others I’ve seen in the role. He sings well, but he seems to lack the convincing rugged magnetism of a man who has been buffeted and hardened by a life of imprisonment, hiding and struggle. His big number in Act II, “Bring Him Home,” is not nearly as effective because of the new staging and how it separates the cast.
The standout of the company is Andrew Varela as Javert. In performance, voice and presence, he is a real theatrical force that helps dramatically solidify the entire production.
Everything in this 25th Anniversary Edition of “Les Miserables” works, including the boisterous, smarmy comic relief of the infamous innkeepers and thieves, the Thenardiers, played by Timothy Gulan and Shawna M. Hamic.
However, sound design in this show seems noticeably boosted and makes for another element that restrains the more highly personal, delicate aspects of the performances. Some of the singing seemed so loud that at times it was difficult to clearly understand the lyrics. One staging tool used in former productions that is not present in this version is a raked stage and the ability to use a turntable on stage to move set pieces and cast members.
The 25th Anniversary Edition of “Les Miserables” received a warm reception from the audience of about 2,700 at The Fox on opening night. This is the 10th time the show has played The Fox, which is an undeniable tribute to the love and affection “Les Miz” engenders. This is “Les Miz” re-envisioned. And in spite of all the changes, the brilliant music and lyrics, and the epic Victor Hugo story, carry the evening as they always do.