Have you ever seen a show that just goes on and on and on? One that seems like it will never end? You keep checking your watch thinking, “how much longer am I going to have to endure this?” When I found out that Les Miserables was a three-hour show, I became extremely worried. I was an audience member who was familiar with the music, but I didn’t know the story too well. I don’t have a very long attention span, so Les Mis' didn’t look too promising. But when I sat in the beautiful Orpheum theatre; and watched and listened in awe, intermission came in a blink of an eye, and the end of the show came even quicker. Les Miserables has every component that a great show can possible have: crime, war, romance, death, and incredible compositions.
Because this is a very plot-heavy show, let me set the scene for you a bit: The story takes place during the French revolution, and centers around Jean Valjean, a man who struggles with a battle between what is right and wrong his whole life. He’s caught stealing bread, but to save a life. He escaped from the police, and ten years later, has made a whole new life for himself; he’s the mayor of a town, and also a factory owner. The story takes place during the French revolution. A woman works in the factory named Fontine, who has a young daughter, Cosette. Cosette doesn’t live with her so she sends money to a family to pay for her daughter. The other women she works with don’t like this, so she is let go and turns to prostitution to save her daughter’s life. Fontine falls ill, but Jean Valjean vows to raise Cosette as his own the best that he can. Seem weighty enough yet?
Because Les Miserables is a musical that is sung through, one might think set changes could be difficult and messy. But, wrong again, all of Les Mis’ scene changes took place on stage and blended seamlessly with the show. Most of the time, I didn’t even notice when the set had changed, but there were a few occasions where the transitions were artfully incorporated. The show was beautifully prepared, technically and it was a joy to see such effort shown onstage.
The music, however was the highlight. “I Dreamed A Dream,” and “On My Own,” are among the most-heard songs from Les Mis'. Both of theses renditions were superb, and they lived up to any pre-show expectations I had. I especially enjoyed “Empty Chairs At Empty Tables,” sung by Marius, the girls’ love interest. I wasn’t particularly fond of this song, but after seeing it last night, done in such a stunning manner, my views have changed. The stage was littered with candles, and it painted a beautiful picture. However, “A Little Fall Of Rain” was what did it for me. You could see the passion onstage, and that’s when the waterworks came.
Overall, Les Miserables was an amazing experience. This tearjerker with drama and romance, is bound to make anyone feel the pain, joy, and obstacles of the characters. And that takes a lot.