Lovely Les Miz, May 17 – 22

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Les Miserables (Ages 9 and older)
TPAC’s Jackson Hall
505 Deaderick St., Nashville
782-4040 • tpac.org
Show times: Tue – Thu 7:30 p.m., Fri 8 p.m., Sat 2 and 8 p.m., Sun 1 and 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: $37.50 – $92.50

A musical treat is in store for you this week at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center with the run of Les Miserables (also known as Les Miz). The show first debuted in London in 1985 and opened on Broadway in 1989. Now enjoying its 26th year, Les Miz is the third longest-running show in Broadway history and is the longest-running musical in the world.

The show is based on Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel of the same name, set in 19th century France. The musical tells the story of numerous characters struggling for redemption and revolution.

In this touring production at TPAC, the cast and orchestra deliver a magnificent performance of Herbert Kretzmer and Claude-Michel Schonberg’s Tony Award-winning score, which comprises 49 songs. If you aren’t familiar with the show, be advised that it is a sung-through musical, meaning there is no dialogue. The drama is told only through song, so if you take your kids, you will do well to brush up on the synopsis ahead of time so you can help them decipher the story on stage.

Ron Sharpe as the show’s central character, ex convict Jean Valjean, gives a bold, robust performance all throughout the show. Other standout moments include Betsy Morgan’s (Fantine) delivery of the show’s signature song, “I Dreamed a Dream,” as well as Chasten Harmon’s commanding rendition of “On My Own” at the beginning of Act II.

Matt Kinley’s set design, inspired by Hugo’s paintings, is exquisite, creating a lot of depth on stage and a deft atmosphere for the characters to bring the story’s drama to life.

Marking the 25th anniversary production, there are some new orchestrations courtesy of Chris Jahnke, and therewithin lies the only minor criticism I have of this show. The tempo on some of the numbers seems a little too fast at times, thus not lending necessary pause to certain dramatic moments like the death of Fantine.

Overall, though, this is a fabulous production of Les Miz. If you consider taking your kids, know that the show’s run time is just over three hours, so keep in mind attention spans and their ability to comprehend the layered storyline.

Chad Young is the managing editor and arts/entertainment editor for this publication.

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