A Musical by Alain Boublil
& Claude-Michel Schonberg
Based on the Victor Hugo novel
Music by Claude-Michel Schonberg
Lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer
Directed and Musical Staging by Jim Corti
Musical Direction by Tom Vendafreddo
At Paramount Theatre
“To have loved another person is to see the face of God.”
–Victor Hugo from Les Miserables
Yet another fabulous production of the classic Les Miserables awaits in Aurora
With an impressive long stairway complete with a high circular runway, set designers Kevin Depinet and Jeffrey D. Kmiec together with effective lighting from Jesse Klug, the visuals from Director Jim Corti’s stunning production of Les Miserables instantly thrill. The powerful score from Claude-Michel Schonberg sounded wonderful with Paramount’s fine sound system.
One of the most impressive elements of this production came from the high energy, emotional rich performances from the main characters.
Les Miserables is actually an opera more than a traditional musical as it contains a great score, wonderful songs and an uplifting story of the power of the human spirit and unconditional love. Full of romance, passion, suspense and humanity, it is the story of one man, the fugitive Jean Valjean (Robert Wilde) who is pitted against the self-righteous police officer, Javert (Rod Thomas demonstrating his impressive vocal acumen ) in a lifelong struggle to avoid capture. Les Miz is the story of the oppressed poor in 1815-1830’s France. Victor Hugo was a reform minded socialist bent on dramatizing the plight of the oppressed.
The sweeping tale covering three decades in France begins with a haunting Prologue that sets the dark tone. We hear Robert Wilde as Valjean in his Soliloquay. We quickly empathize with Valjean. The plight of the poor in vividly depicted in “Factory Workers” where we meet Fontine (Hannah Cornean) who sells her hair and body to sustain her child Cosette (Nicole Scimeca). Fontine becomes ill and Valjean, now the mayor and prosperous factory owner promises Fontine that he’ll raise Cosette as his own. We hear two fabulous songs in this section: “I Dreamed a Dream” (nicely sung byHannah Cornean ) and “Who Am I?” Valjean’s conscious speaking to himself. He is deciding what kind of man he is going to be. The hauntingly beautiful “Come To Me” duet has Fontine and Valjean singing to her death.
Young Cosette sings her dream in “Castle On A Cloud” and her guardians, the thieving Thenardiers sing their innkeeper practices in the rousing comic “Master of the House.” George Keating, as Thenardier, and Marya Grandy, as Madame Thenardier were wonderfully comic as the gross thieving innkeeper/thieves. Keating was deliciously devilish as Thenardier.
Its now 1832 and the students see the deprivation of the poor in Paris as the beggars and young Gavroche (the cute Ricky Falbo ) lament in “Look Down.” Javert sings his ode to his commitment to righteousness in the terrific anthem “Stars” sung in a movingly heart wrenching yet powerful turn by Rob Thomas. The students are moved to action with the anthems “Red and Black” and “Do You Hear The People Sing?” Travis Taylor, as Enjolras, leads the students with his presence and rich baritone. These calls to action are thrilling moments. Marius (the terrific Devin DeSantis), Cosette (Eric Stephan) and the beggar girl Eponine (Lillie Cummings) sing “In My Life” as they search for love that explodes into “A Heart Full of Love” as Eponine sings to Marius who sings to Cosette. Act one ends with the ode to life in “One Day More” – a powerful march.
Act two finds Eponine singing to her loneliness in “On My Own,” a stirring love song. Eponine gets shot entering the barricade the student erect to fight the French Army. “A Little Fall of Rain” is Eponine’s dying song to Marius who is moved by her love and loyalty. “Drink With Me to Days Gone By” has Feuilly (Nathan Grdner) and Grantaire (Rob Riddle) saying good-by to his fellow students who may all die in the coming battle. Valjean joins the student fighters and sings the shows best song in the beautifully sad “Bring Him Home.” Robert Wilde nails the needed range as he delivers the pray for Marius to live. The battle erupts and Valjean saves the wounded Marius. Javert meets Valjean as he takes Marius to the hospital. Javert pays his debt to Valjean for his life and then realizes that Valjean is, indeed, a righteous man, not himself. Rob Thomas delivers his “Soliloquy” beautifully that finishes with a thrilling finish. The women and Marius sing a sad song to their fallen comrades in “Empty Chairs At Empty Tables.”
Les Miserables is an epic story of oppression that finds one good man, one zealot and a group of idealistic students each trying to make a difference in a harsh and cruel world. We see how eventually, goodness and humanity contained in resilient folks wins for a bright future. This is a richly emotional show filled with big anthems, rousing marches and tender love songs and sad laments that will leave you in tears. The power of the live stage and haunting music rings so true. See Les Miserables once again and rekindle your spirits. I was able to hear and understand every lyric due to the fine enunciation and articulation of the cast. The voices are pure, the action passionate and the sheer intensity with the wonderful music from Tom Vzndafredda’s full orchestra was overwhelming and thrilling. Paramount Theatre once more presents a worthy show.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: March 21, 2015
For more info checkout the Les Miserables page at theatreinchicago.com
At Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena, Aurora, IL, call 630-896-6666, www.paramountaurora.com, tickets $41 -$54, Wednesdays at 1:30 & 7pm, Thursdays at 7 pm, Fridays at8 pm, Saturdays at 3 & 8 pm, Sundays at 1 & 5:30 pm, running time is 2 hours, 45 minutes with intermission, through April 26, 2015