Do you hear the people sing, singing the songs of angry men (and women?) If you are walking in the beautifully holiday-lit streets of the village of Shirlington, VA during a performance of Les Miserables, I wouldn't be surprised if you could hear the amazing ensemble of this historic musical. They are strong and they are wonderful, just like the entire cast of this historic production under the tutelage of the Signature Theatre's Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer.
This is Les Miserables like you've never seen it. If you've seen a production either on Broadway or a touring version with the famous turntable, you have never experienced anything like this before. And if you are one of the few who has never experienced this Tony-winning musical, NOW IS THE TIME!!
The reason is quite simple. Signature has gathered a superb cast of 28 actors, supplied them with 138 costumes, gathered a Broadway-sized 14-piece orchestra, and a five-ton steel set all within the intimacy of the Signature's 280-seat MAX theatre.
It has become so popular with SRO performances, that the original closing date of January 25 has been extended four more weeks to February 22, 2009. Don't miss this excellent opportunity.
I was fortunate to see the Pre-Broadway version at the Kennedy Center and will never forget that experience. If you can make it to the Signature Theatre, even if you've seen it before, you will also never forget it; it's like seeing it for the first time. You hear EVERY lyric, and it seems so much more understandable. And when the ensemble approached downstage together, they sent shivers down my spine. This responsibility belongs to Karma Camp who did the musical staging. What voices!!
To make the music come alive, Matt Rowe's sound design deserves special notice as does the excellent orchestra under the baton of Jon Kalbfleisch who performs high above the barricade. However; I do miss the lack of a large string section. (Notice how many are on the CD.)
The lighting by Mark Lanks is dazzling, the costumes of Kathleen Geldard are clever and unique, and the scenic design by Walt Spangler deserves special recognition.
The two leads Greg Stone as Jean Valjean and Tom Zemon as Inspector Javert bring a new twist to the tale and they do it so successfully and effortlessly.
You'll see a star in the making in Felicia Curry as Eponine.
For comic relief, Sherri L. Edelen and Christopher Bloch as the Thenardiers bring down the house in "Master of the House". What a pair!! They alone are worth the price of admission.
So there you have it. While Broadway musicals are closing left and right, we have a classic right in our backyard.
There are also backstage tours entitled "Beyond the Barricade" held after the shows on week-ends ($15). To entice families there are "Miz Kids" family offerings sponsored in part by Target, and "The Paris Pass" which included drinks, souvenir programs and more. Signature is also offering a special New Year's Eve gala performance and party.
For tickets, call 703-820-9771 or visit www.signature-theatre.org.
For comments, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos by: Scott Suchman