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"Les Miserables" At The Imperial Theatre, Tuesday, March 4th, 2014, Reviewed

Miserable

Miserable

For theatre goers on the Great White Way, the most dreaded words are “Travelling Company” or “road company” because, roughly translated, it means starless minimum production, at Broadway prices. It was true of the “Jesus Christ Superstar” a few years back and it is equally true of the “Les Miserables” boring low culture, high culture wannabes at the Imperial.

On the road and round the world to glowing reviews, it hit New York just in time for the tail end of the Hugh Jackman starring Hollywood musical version. Which, in a rare departure, is vastly superior to this performance. And both disappear into the mists of time when compared to Victor Hugo’s exquisite vision of God, man and redemption, it was published a scant 30 years after the June Rebellion in Paris that lead to the French revolution. I can’t even imagine what it reads like in French but in English the story of the convict jailed for 20 years for stealing a loaf of bread, Jean Valjean, is one of the greatest experiences you will ever have.

“Les Miserables” -a pop opera from the 1980s with all the soaring storied stuff, isn’t that but it isn’t bad and it is a huge cult favorite. Plus, it has two stand out songs, the astounding “Master Of The House” and the almost it is equal “One More Day”. These two song occur in reprises to close the interminable first act and better clipped second act. The lyrics by Herbert Kretzner with a book and music by Claude-Michel Schonberg. these guys are the definition of middlebrow. Schonberg’s only other hit was “Miss Saigon”

This production, again from producer Cameron Mackintosh, is a cheap affair. With orchestra seats running $150, this poorly written generically sung and just about non existent production values seems to have just pulled in from Poughkeepsie.A caveat to the complaint: there is an ensemble of nearly 40 performers presenting the show.

For the most part nobody stands out, though both Ramin Karimloo’s Jean Valjean and Will Swenson’s Javert got their showstoppers to stop the show, neither were standouts. The only people to come out with their reputation enhance were Andrew Kober and Christianne Tisdale’s Innkeeper and his wife, they bested Sasha Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter in flat out nastiness.

The truth is, Broadway isn’t Orlando and we expect West End great productions not travelling shows. Look, if MacIntosh wants to charge us $50 for orchestra he can get away with putting on a show with a cheap and shoddy looking stage and journeymen singers. Till then, this deserves to rot.

Grade: C-

 

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