Les Miserables

I first saw the iconic tearjerker musical “Les Miserables” many years ago on Broadway, in that production Lea Salonga essayed the role of Eponine, the first Filipino thespian to do so. One of the greatest musicals of all time, “Les Miz” is back at Signature Theatre with a retooled version.
[ad#featuredpost160x600]When it was announced that Signature Theatre would bring this mega-musical into an intimate space with just 280 seats- a seemingly tricky set-up- the question was would it work? The answer is a resounding yes, the gifted director Eric Schaeffer has decided to take a gamble and create a staging that combines an epic scale of 28 actors, 138 costumes, a 14-piece orcehestra with the intimacy of a 28-seat theater. Mr. Schaeffer and Set Designer Walter Spangler deftly places the audience in the middle of the stage, as if the audience were participants in 19th century France.
“Les Miserables,” based on the 1862 novel by Victor Hugo, is the tale of Jean Valjean(Greg Stone), a fugitive who after serving a prison sentence for stealing loaf of bread can’t shake the stigma of being an ex-con especially when hounded by the relentless Inspector Javert (Tom Zemon). Unable to live with his shame, Valjean erases his former identity and disappears.
Flash forward 18 years and we find the tragic heroine Fantine (Tracy Lyn Olivera) working in a factory owned by Valjean. Fantine is a single mother with a daughter Cosette(Stepanie Waters);when Fantine dies, Valjean adopts Cosette and raises her as if she was his own daughter. the lives of these characters and the student revolutionaries come together against the 19th century French Revolution.
This production has an outstanding cast. Greg Stone is simply spellbinding as Valjean and nails all his lines and notes. Tom Zemon and Andrew Call are superb as the Inspector Javert and idealistic student activist Marius. Tracy Lyn Olivera’s richly textured vocals bring depth to her role as Fantine, and she delivers a heartbreaking rendition of “I Dream A Dream.” Felicia Curry as the good-natured student Eponine brings down the house with her rousing rendition of “On My Own.” Sherri D. Edelen and Christopher Bloch provide comic relief as the wicked couple who runs the inn, the Thenardiers. Edelen and Bloch get to shine in their number “Master Of The House,” one of the evening’s showstoppers.
What’s not to love about “Les Miz”? The epic sweep and the entrancing score by Claude-Michel Schonberg Alain Boublil have elicited much tears and cheers ever since it premiered on Broadway in 1987, and has played in many houses globally. This virtousic production is playing at Signature till February 22. It was supposed to play till January 25 but its run got extended due to ticket demand.
“Les Miserables,” directed by Eric Scaheffer, Music by Claude-Michel Schonberg, Lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer Tickets: $65-$87 Call-703-573-SEAT(7328)
Performance times: Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8:00 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave. Arlington, Va. 22206
Visit www.signature-theatre.org ttp://www.signature-theatre.org.

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