Regional Reviews: Philadelphia
Also see Rebecca's review of Wolf Play
Set against the backdrop of 19th century France, Les Misérables tells the story of Jean Valjean, a convict who is released from prison after serving 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread and attempting escape. At his most desperate moment, Valjean is saved by the grace of a generous bishop. Valjean resolves to turn his life around completely, but no matter how successfully he remakes himself, the past is never far behind. Featuring songs like "I Dreamed a Dream," "On My Own," "Bring Him Home," "Do You Hear The People Sing?," and "One Day More," Les Misérables tells a powerful story of faith, redemption and love.
Nick Cartell gives a powerhouse performance as Jean Valjean. Preston Truman Boyd is a perfect foil for Cartell, bringing robust vocals and a truly dark edge to the role of Inspector Javert. Christine Heesun Hwang makes a stunning emotional connection to the audience as Éponine. Although he is not necessarily as operatic as the rest of the cast, Matt Crowle gives a unique comedic energy to master of the house Thénardier.
The set and costume designs are almost as impressive as the ensemble. Inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo, Matt Kinley's set designs fill the stage and transport the audience back to the 1800s. Cunning use of projections by Finn Ross, Jonathan Lyle, and Fifty Nine Productions create an additional layer of movement and intensity. Andreane Neofitou and Christine Rowland have successfully designed a staggering array of lush costumes for the company.
Any production of Les Misérables has a tremendous reputation to live up to. Fortunately for Philadelphia, the touring production lives up to that legacy and delivers a new exciting energy that is all its own. It is truly great to hear the people singing behind the barricade once again.
Les Misérables ran through November 13, 2022, at Academy of Music, Kimmel Cultural Campus in Philadelphia PA. For more information on the touring production, visit www.lesmis.com/us-tour.