Perhaps I am in the minority, but among the performers, only two failed to impress me: Timothy Gulan's Thénardier and the Madame Thénardier of Shawna M. Hamic. Gulan and Hamic had nothing new to offer in their roles, especially during their musical hall turn, "Master of the House." (The mimed intercourse in the middle of the song may have pulled focus from their performances, but hey, I'm easily distracted.) I not only missed laughs from the treacherous couple, I missed the sense of danger the Thénardiers can add.
As the young couple, Marius and Cosette, Devin Ilaw and Lauren Wiley were earnest and sang their material with sweetness that never tipped the scales into the saccharine. Briana Carson-Goodman, as the waif Eponine, was straight-forward and offers a strong rendition of her signature song "On My Own," as she sang of her unrequited love of Marius. The protesting students - think Occupy Paris, circa 1832 - were lead by the Jason Forbach's well-sung Enjolras.
Nearly a cameo, the role of Fantine goes from hard-working single mother to desperate prostitute and dies during the first 25 minutes of the show. During that time, Fantine also performs one of the most haunting and oft-performed songs in the score, "I Dreamed a Dream." Genevieve Leclerc makes a favorable impression as the doomed, yet devoted mother and sings her anthem memorably.
Gorgeous sets and costumes (here by Andreane Neofitou and Christine Rowlands), new orchestrations, and supporting roles aside, LES MISERABLES is the story of Jean Valjean's unbreakable spirit and Javert's fanatical pursuit of Valjean. Without strong performers as these pivotal characters, the lengthy show would not be worth the time or money.
Luckily, this production boasts a dynamic duo as Valjean and Javert: Peter Lockyer and and Andrew Varela, respectively. Each one in magnificent voice, Lockyer and Varela each inhabit these iconic characters while bringing new depth to their engaging central conflict. As Valjean, Lockyer's "Soliloquy" and "Bring Him Home" rang out with musical and dramatic clarity. Varela's performance of Javert's personal credo, "Stars," and his final soliloquy were also highlights of the production.
The bottom line is this: no matter what my review says about the national tour of Les Miz at DC's National Theatre, tickets will go fast for this holiday run, even as the film version is about to open. You have until December 30 to see it live onstage.
A musical based on the novel by Victor Hugo. Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg. Lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer, from the French text by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel. Directed by Laurence Connor and James Powell. Produced by Cameron Macintosh. 25th Anniversary Production on tour.
Running Time: 2 hours and 55 minutes, including one 15 minute intermission.
Through December 30, 2012
At The National Theatre, 1321 Pennsylvania Avenue NW (Between 13th and 14th Streets), Washington DC 20004
800.447.7400 Or go to TeleCharge.Com - click here.
Photo Credit: Deen Vanmeer