Review: Les Miserables 

****
Scene from 'Les Miserables' currently on stage at Clowes.
  • Scene from 'Les Miserables' currently on stage at Clowes.

Clowes Memorial Hall, through April 15

The heart-pounding opening beats set the pace of driving emotion to carry us into lives across 27 years and into a history that keeps repeating itself.

This 25th anniversary production maintains the high emotional intensity and vivid characterization that immediately gained Les Miserables a public following and critical acclaim, yet this production seems crisper than the four others this reviewer has attended. The performance runs through April 15.

The dynamics are heightened by 21st-century technology for the extraordinary setting and lighting.

What remains with each new cast is the power of the personalities whose choices make and break each other — they are not merely characters in a musical but are recognizable figures who, even today subvert concepts of justice, duty, honesty, mercy for personal gain and become slaves to their own vindictiveness, greed and insensitivity.

As in Greek drama, Jean Valjean is a flawed hero; Javert a tragic figure. In opposite ends of the musical their Soliloquies address the same quest at equally opposite spectrums — 'Who am I?' they ask, and each deals with the answer in light of how they came to be who they are. Dramatic structure built around contrasts and similarities keep us watchful.

We're jolted by Fantine's dream echoed by Mme Thenardier. Every cast member earns praise. They work as an ensemble, giving 150% to make each character dimensional and memorable.

One can walk away resolving to be a more caring person, vigilant for the well-being of others.

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