Theater Review: Les Miserables

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The national tour of Les Misérables makes for an extremely special night of Broadway in Nashville!

Les Misérables (Nov. 14 – 19; All ages)
TPAC’s Jackson Hall
505 Deaderick St., Nashville
615-782-4040 • tpac.org
Remaining show times: Thu 7:30 p.m., Fri 8 p.m., Sat 2 & 8 p.m., Sun 1 & 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: $42.50 – $92.50

Do you hear the people sing? I did last night, and in my estimation, the current North American tour of Les Misérables — featuring new staging and reimagined scenery — is a hit at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in downtown Nashville, a 2017 Winner for Best Performance Venue in Nashville.

Based on the classic French novel by Victor Hugo, Les Misérables is the eight-time Tony Award winning musical from 1985. Still captivating audiences today, the show’s themes of right and wrong, hard-earned love, redemption and forgiveness make for non-stop drama. Paired with its rich, transcendent score (music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer — from the original French lyrics by Alain Boublil) this production is beautifully brought to life by an energetic, passionate cast.

Talent Dominates Les Misérables

The show opens powerfully with hard-laboring Jean Valjean, (veteran Broadway actor Nick Cartell),  masterfully sharing the intricate first number with the ensemble. Cartell’s work is first rate; he delivers a sincere and meaningful performance. Valjean’s journey is a life-long quest for redemption after serving 19 years in jail for stealing a loaf of bread. His struggle to live a life of righteous morality after a bishop shows him mercy and kindness is at the heart of the tale.

But every story needs a villain. Valjean is relentlessly tracked down by a dogged police inspector, Javert (Josh Davis), who believes Valjean to be a criminal uncapable of reform. Cartell and Davis are equals on stage, giving tour de force performances that are thrilling to watch.

A slew of characters align with Valjean in revolutionary France, where a group of young idealists battle to make a last stand against oppression at a street barricade. The set is spectacular and works well for the talented ensemble lead by Matt Shingledecker (Enjolras), whose powerful vocals rival those of the other male leads — he’s a performer to keep your eyes on.

Rounding off the outstanding cast (many of whom studied theater arts at top American musical theater colleges around the country) are stand-outs like Phoenix Best (Eponine), Joshua Grosso (Marius) and Jillian Butler (Cosette). Props go out to the comic relief and laughter provided by Madame Thenardier (Allison Guinn) and her insidious husband played by journeyman actor, J Anthony Crane.

Don’t miss this breathtaking revival of Les Misérables, still going strong since its premiere more than 30 years ago, and aptly deemed a phenomenon. This production is a special evening of Broadway musical theater in Nashville, and one that kids ages 10 and older will respond to as well.

 

 

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