Friday, July 1, 2011

Stage review: Les Miserables

We went to see the 25th anniversary production of Les Miserables. We both love this show, and while we weren't sure the younger kids are quite old enough, we didn't want to pass up this opportunity for them to see it. So we bought enough seats to take the whole family, which cost a pretty penny. It cost so much that it was a major decision for us! It was like, "vacation or Les Miserables?"

We were able to have this event serve as Big Girl's birthday present as well, so that was nice! She learned about the story (which made her nervous- she's squeamish about death and fighting) and listened to the soundtrack. She ended up being VERY excited about seeing the show!

I did not realize that it would be a restaged production. Instead of having the iconic turntable stage, it has a more traditional set and staging. I did like the new backdrops, based on watercolors by Victor Hugo. They were beautiful and really did set the mood. The backdrops were animated at times, moving us through Paris, which was really cool.

Overall, it was wonderful. I mean, it's Les Miserables after all! I loved how the audience cheered for the opening BUM, BUM BUMMM! by the orchestra - definitely an audience of theatre fans! The music was exhilarating and the ending made me cry. A great Les Miserables experience.

Big girl loved it. Middle girl liked it very much, but had bad dreams of battle scenes that night. The Boy was bored, so I whispered the plot in his ear during the second act. He enjoyed it more that way.

In general, aside from the cool backdrops, I liked the original version better. It's more iconic with the revolving turntable and the minimalist sets - this one was more like other shows. I also felt the battle scenes were less impactful without seeing both sides of the barricade.

The singing was very shout-y in this production. It must have been a direction, because everyone in the cast was turned up to 11. I don't agree with that choice. If you have quiet moments in the song, it gives the powerful notes so much more impact. These songs were sung with such intensity on EVERY NOTE that it all ran together. A shame.

The exception to this was Eponine. I really enjoyed her interpretation of the songs; it's interesting that she was the understudy. I also enjoyed the performances of Marius and Cosette more than I usually do.

The most shouting was done by Fantine. EVERY SYLLABLE!!!

I recommend seeing Les Miserables. It does a good job of being Les Miserables! But you might want to bring earplugs...

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