Thursday, March 15, 2007

Les Miserables

photo: Michael LePoer Trench

You really have to work hard to make Les Miz fail outright but this revival, which uses the scaled-down touring sets, the no-time-to-breathe edited book, and some new re-orchestrations thoroughly inferior to the originals, has managed it. There's nothing wrong with the staging, which stays close to the modern masterpiece of music theatre that was Trevor Nunn's original, but almost none of the principals in this revival cast are playing high-stakes enough. Alexander Gemignani is too young and too lightweight with no urgency in his Valjean - not only does he fail to depict a man with inner demons, he fails to depict a man with an inner life at all. Norm Lewis, who naturally projects sunniness and good cheer, makes a decent attempt at dark Javert, but a decent attempt is all it amounts to. Gary Beach's flying leap off the cute end as Thernardier is not even that, it's just a mistake. I do have two nice things to say: Lea Salonga is a very fine Fantine - she sings beautifully and with a depth of feeling that is otherwise missing here - and Aaron Lazar, in the brief and usually thankless role of Enroljas, steals all attention whenever he's on stage.


Jennifer said...

great review, love your site, found it through nytimes! i agree with norm lewis & alex geminiani, but being the die-hard les mis fan, I still enjoy watching it being performed on stage.

Patrick Lee said...

Hey I looked through your blog - I'm glad you were taken by Journey's End. It's one of my favorite things in town right now.