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Theater Review: New And Improved ‘Les Miz’

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'One Day More' - The Company of Les Miserables (Photo By Deen Van Meer)

‘One Day More’ – The Company of Les Miserables (Photo By Deen Van Meer)

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS) – Since this was my fifth time watching Les Misérables I thought I would go and just enjoy the familiar songs. I was not prepared to be absolutely amazed by this brand new production. The original was good. This one just offers more – more emotion, more drama, more entertainment.

The 25th Anniversary Production of Les Misérables, produced by Cameron Mackintosh, presents a fresh new version of the musical. It’s the familiar story of life, death, redemption and love set against the backdrop of the French Revolution; (for a complete synopsis click here) but it’s presented in a way that makes this old story new again.

The way the music was arranged with the singing, the voices were presented with clarity and emotion like never before. “I Dreamed A Dream,” sung by Betsy Morgan as Fantine, left a lump in my throat and from that point on, each song made me tear up. As familiar as these songs were to me, I felt like I was truly experiencing the emotions of the musical for the first time. Andrew Varela playing Inspector Javert gave a passionate rendition of “Stars,” Briana Carlson-Goodman as Eponine gave a heart-tugging performance of “On My Own,” and Peter Lockyer was impressive overall as Jean Valjean, notably his powerful performance of “Bring Him Home” – just some of the highlights of a production filled with highlights. The comedic numbers of “Master of the House” and “Beggars at the Feast” were also enjoyable. The closing number before intermission, “One Day More,” made me rise to my feet and as I left humming, “Do you hear the people sing?” I thought there wasn’t a single song that wasn’t impressive or interesting to watch.

The new staging and scenery really made the musical come alive. I sat up in my seat and tried to soak in as much of the set as I could and, for the first time, did not fall asleep during a Les Miz performance. A dynamic screen in the background created a remarkable 3-D effect throughout the musical. While the original staging could be described as minimal and dark, this production was full of life and interesting in every corner.

Whether you’ve seen Les Misérables several times like me, or have yet to catch it, this is the production to see. It’s a shame it’s only in town for a little over a month – be one of the lucky ones to experience this new, powerful production of Les Misérables. You won’t regret it.

- Connie C. Kim

- Watch the trailer here.

Les Misérables
July 10-August 26
SHN Orpheum Theatre
1192 Market St. (at 8th)
San Francisco
For more information click here.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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