What makes a good man? Is a respectable life measured by wealth, power, and status? What happens when all of these things become meaningless in the face of truth, love, and compassion?
Les Misérables, is an exciting, powerful musical that will give “les frissons”! From the action-packed opening scene to the moving “Bring Him Home”, the show is uplifting, heart-breaking, and full of passion. While the story is grim, there are scenes of joy and tenderness. This is a story of redemption, fighting the good fight, and the impossible choices that can break a person. Be sure to bring tissues as the final act made me ugly-cry!
Set in early 19th century France, the people suffer from poverty and injustice. Jean Valjean (Nick Cartell) receives parole after 19 years on the chain gang for stealing a loaf of bread. The kindness of strangers inspires him to lead a good life, without bitterness or rancour. As the years go on, Valjean, under an assumed name, becomes wealthy and important. But he never stops trying to do what is right. He gives to the poor. He raises the little girl, Cosette, as his daughter after promising her dying mother, the prostitute Fantine (Melissa Mitchell). But he is relentlessly pursued by the constable Javert (Josh Davis). Javert is obsessed with capturing Valjean for breaking his parole. He lacks mercy in his pursuit of justice at all costs. When an uprising sends the students to the streets, the carnage reveals the true heart of the characters.
The cast is outstanding! The ensemble has fantastic voices, give exhilarating performances, and they bring their unique qualities together into a vibrant whole.
Mr. Cartell is dynamite. He brings out Valjean’s decency and loving strength with quiet power. And his singing is incredible! Mr. Davis is imposing and stern but not without menace, a dark shadow in the story. Ms. Mitchell beautifully renders “I Dreamed a Dream”, making Fantine’s tragedy ever-present. However, not everything is so sad. As the vulgar, bawdy Thénardiers, J Anthony Crane and Allison Guinn bring a much needed shot of levity with their hilarious and over-the-top portrayals.
The sets are terrific. The backdrops feature projections of Victor Hugo’s paintings giving texture and a sense of the times. The dark sombre colours of the paintings reflect the tone of the sets and costumes. The scale of the scenes is huge but never loses its intimacy.
In spite of the harshness of the times, there is always room for goodness. Mercy should not be crushed by righteousness. Power can be giving. Truth can be a liberator. Love is the true measure of life.
Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy
Les Misérables: presented by evenko and Broadway Across Canada, A Cameron Mackintosh and Networks Presentation. Based on the novel by Victor Hugo. Original French text by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel. Book by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg. Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg. Lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer. Directed by Laurence Connor and James Powell. Show runs until February 11, 2018 at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Place des Arts, 175 Ste.-Catherine Street West, Montreal. For tickets, call the box office at 514-842-2112 (or 1-866-842-2112) or go to www.placedesarts.com