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Dream the Dream: “Les Misérables” Returns to Raleigh Memorial Auditorium on Feb. 14-19

J. Mark McVey plays reformed escaped convict Jean Valjean (photo by Paul Kolnik)

J. Mark McVey plays reformed escaped convict Jean Valjean (photo by Paul Kolnik)

Cameron Macintosh’s 25th anniversary U.S. Tour of the hit 1980 Paris, 1985 West End, and 1987 Broadway mega-musical Les Misérables will play eight performances on Feb. 14-19 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium as a joint presentation of Broadway Series South and the North Carolina Theatre, both based in downtown Raleigh, NC. The show stars J. Mark McVey as 19th-century French novelist Victor Hugo’s reformed petty thief Jean Valjean, who was relentlessly pursued by the implacable Inspector Javert (played by Andrew Varela).

According to the musical’s official website, “[McVey] made his Broadway debut as Jean Valjean in Les Misérables after having won the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Actor while on tour with the show. He was also the first American to perform the role in London’s West End. Mark [McVey] reprised the role of Jean Valjean in a special concert version of Les Misérables, presented to a sold-out crowd at the Hollywood Bowl [in August 2008]. He has performed the role of Jean Valjean more than 2,900 times.”

The U.S. Tour cast also features Betsy Morgan as the unemployed factory worker-turned-prostitute Fantine; Jenny Latimer as Fantine’s illegitimate daughter Cosette, who Jean Valjean adopts when her mother dies; Max Quinlan as the Cosette’s lover the student revolutionary Marius Pontmercy; ; Richard Vida and Shawna M. Hamic as the monstrous innkeepers Monsieur and Madame Thénardier; Chasten Harmon as the Thénardiers’ daughter Éponine; Jeremy Hays as Marius’ friend the fiery student revolutionary Enjolras. Kylie McVey and Juliana Simone will alternate in the roles of Young Cosette and Young Eponine, and Anthony Pierini and Sam Poon will alternate in the role of street urchin Gavroche.

Andrew Varela portrays his nemesis, the implacable Inspector Javert (photo by Deen van Meer)

Andrew Varela portrays his nemesis, the implacable Inspector Javert (photo by Deen van Meer)

The rest of the cast includes (in alphabetical order): Richard Todd Adams as a Factory Foreman and Enjolras’ second-in-command Lesgles; Natalie Beck as an Innkeeper’s Wife; Cole Burden as Courfeyrac; Casey Erin Clark as a Whore; Jason Forbach as Feuilly; Lucia Giannetta as a Factory Girl; Ian Patrick Gibb as Jean Prouvaire and a Constable; Siri Howard as a Crazy Whore; Cornelia Luna as a Wigmaker; Nadine Malouf as a Young Whore; Jordan Nichols as a Laborer and Montparnasse; John Rapson as Claquesous, Bambatois, and a Farmer; Hannah Shankman as a Whore; Alan Shaw as hypochondrical medical student Joly and a Constable; Joseph Spieldenner as Grantaire, an Innkeeper, and the Major Domo; Eric Van Tielen as Combeferre and Fouchelevant; Joe Tokarz as Brujon and Champmathieu and a Loud Hailer; and James Zannelli as the Bishop of Digne and the gangster Babet.

Members of the Ensemble include Beth Kirkpatrick and Mavis Simpson-Ernst; and the Swings include Richard Barth, fight captain Ben Gunderson, dance captain Jason Ostrowski, Rachel Rincione, and Natalie Weiss.

Les Misérables — pronounced “Lay Miz-eh-rahb” — is French for “the wretched” or “the outcasts.” The musical is based on the epic 1862 novel that French poet, novelist, and dramatist Victor Hugo (1802-85) wrote about former convict Jean Valjean, imprisoned for 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread and numerous escape attempts, and his relentless, self-righteous pursuer Inspector Javert. Set in revolutionary France — and on the mean streets and even in the underground sewers of the Parisian underworld — between 1815 and 1832, this magnificent musical breathes full, glorious new life into Hugo’s colorful, larger-than-life characters.

Richard Vida and Shawna M. Hamic (center) play the light-fingered innkeeper Monsieur Thénardier and his odious wife and partner in crime (photo by Deen van Meer)

Richard Vida and Shawna M. Hamic (center) play the light-fingered innkeeper Monsieur Thénardier and his odious wife and partner in crime (photo by Deen van Meer)

The original French version of this magnificent musical adaptation of Les Misérables featured a brilliant book by Alain Boublil and Claude Michel Schönberg, marvelous music by Schönberg, and poignant lyrics by Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel. It premiered on Sept. 17, 1980 at the Palais de Sport in Paris, where it ran for 107 performances.

The English adaptation of Les Misérables debuted at the Barbican Centre in London on Sept. 30, 1985 and ran for 63 performances there before transferring on Dec. 4, 1985 to the Palace Theatre, where it ran for 18 years and more than 7,500 performances. The show’s phenomenal Palace Theatre run will end on March 27, 2004; then Les Misérables moved to the Queen’s Theatre and reopened in early April 2004.

Originally directed and adapted for English-speaking audiences by John Caird and Trevor Nunn and produced by Cameron Macintosh and the Royal Shakespeare Company, the English version of Les Misérables featured a terrific translation of the original French script by Alain Boublil and Claude Michel Schönberg, with additional material by James Fenton; Schönberg’s soaring melodies; and eloquent new English lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer (based on Boublil and Natel’s original French lyrics). The West End show’s original designers were John Napier (sets), Andreane Neofitou (costumes), and David Hersey (lighting).

Chasten Harmon portrays as the Thénardiers’ daughter Éponine in "Les Misérables" (photo by Deen van Meer)

Chasten Harmon portrays the Thénardiers’ daughter Éponine in "Les Misérables" (photo by Deen van Meer)

Les Misérables made its Broadway debut on March 12, 1987 at the Broadway Theatre and closed on May 18, 2003, after 16 years and 6,680 performances. The show won eight 1987 Tony Awards® (including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, and Best Original Score) and introduced “Bring Him Home,” “I Have Dreamed a Dream,” “A Little Fall of Rain,” “One Day More,” and “Who Am I?” to the show-tune repertoire.

A Broadway revival of Les Misérables ran for 463 performances at the Broadhurst Theatre between Nov. 9, 2006 and Jan. 6, 2008. National tours of Les Misérables played Raleigh Memorial Auditorium on Jan. 30-Feb. 4, 2001 and Feb. 10-15, 2004; and Terrence Mann, who created the role of Inspector Javert in the original Broadway production of Les Misérables, directed the Wake County Public School System and Broadway Series South presentation of Les Misérables® School Edition on Sept. 28-29, 2007 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium.

According to the North Carolina Theatre and Broadway Series South news release:

“[The] 25th anniversary production of the world’s longest-running musical, Les Misérables, will make its Raleigh premiere on [Feb. 14th] … as a part of the North America multi-year tour. The production features glorious new staging and spectacular reimagined scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo. Les Misérables will be the anchor of the 2012 North Carolina Theatre and Broadway Series South season.

The New York Times calls this Les Misérables ‘an unquestionably spectacular production from start to finish.’ The London Times hails the new show ‘a five-star hit, astonishingly powerful and as good as the original.’

The Star-Ledger says ‘a dynamically re-imagined hit. This Les Misérables has improved with age,’ and NY1-TV proclaims ‘this new production actually exceeds the original. The storytelling is clearer, the perspective grittier and the motivations more honest. Musical theatre fans can rejoice: Les Miz is born again.’

Betsy Morgan gives a poignant performance as unemployed factory worker-turned-prostitute Fantine (photo by Deen van Meer)

Betsy Morgan gives a poignant performance as unemployed factory worker-turned-prostitute Fantine (photo by Deen van Meer)

‘I’m delighted that 25 years after Les Miz originally opened in London the audience for this marvelous show is bigger and younger than ever before,’ said producer Cameron Mackintosh. ‘Over the years, I have seen many successful but visually different productions, so it has been exciting to draw inspiration from the brilliant drawings and paintings of Victor Hugo himself, integrated with spectacular projections. The new Les Miz is a magnificent mix of dazzling images and epic staging, driving one of the greatest musical stories ever told.’

“Based on Victor Hugo’s classic novel, Les Misérables is an epic and uplifting story about the survival of the human spirit. The magnificent score of Les Misérables includes the classic songs ‘I Dreamed a Dream,’ ‘On My Own,’ ‘Stars,’ ‘Bring Him Home,’ ‘Do You Hear the People Sing?,’ ‘One Day More,’ ‘Empty Chairs at Empty Tables,’ ‘Master of the House,’ and many more.

“Cameron Mackintosh’s new production of Boublil and Schönberg’s Les Misérables … is directed by Laurence Connor and James Powell, [and] designed by Matt Kinley, inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo, with costumes by Andreane Neofitou and additional costumes by Christine Rowlands, lighting by Paule Constable, and sound by Mick Potter….

Les Misérables … moved to its current home at the Queen’s Theatre on April 3, 2004, where it continues to play to packed houses. When Les Misérables celebrated its 21st London birthday on October 8, 2006, it became the ‘World’s Longest-Running Musical,’ surpassing the record previously held by Cats in London’s West End.

“In celebration of its 25th anniversary, the legendary musical Les Misérables made theatrical history with an international first — three different productions in London at the same time. The Original Production (still playing to packed houses at the Queen’s Theatre), the acclaimed New 25th Anniversary Production at the Barbican (where the show originally premiered), and a celebratory concert at The O2 Arena. The O2 Concert was presented in over 500 cinemas throughout the United States on Nov. 17, 2010, and is now available on Blu-ray DVD through Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

“The [first] U.S. National Tour [of Les Misérables] began in November 1987 and visited over 150 cities before closing in St. Louis, MO in 2006. Broadway audiences welcomed Les Miz back to New York on Nov. 9, 2006, where the show played the Broadhurst Theatre until its final performance on Jan. 6, 2008. To date, Les Misérables remains the third-longest-running Broadway production of all time.

Jeremy Hays and Max Quinlan (center) play the fiery student revolutionaries Enjolras and Marius in "Les Misérables" (photo by Deen van Meer)

Jeremy Hays and Max Quinlan (center) play the fiery student revolutionaries Enjolras and Marius in "Les Misérables" (photo by Deen van Meer)

“Seen by nearly 60 million people worldwide in 42 countries and in 21 languages, Les Misérables is undisputedly one of the world’s most popular musicals ever written, with new productions continually opening around the globe, with seven more currently scheduled.

“There have been 36 cast recordings of Les Misérables, including the multi-platinum London cast recording, the [1988] Grammy Award-winning Broadway cast and complete symphonic albums and the soon-to-be-released live recording of the New 25th Anniversary Production.

“The video of the 10th Anniversary Royal Albert Hall Gala Concert has sold millions of copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling musical videos ever in the U.K.

“There are over 2,500 productions of the Les Misérables School Edition scheduled or being performed by over 125,000 school children in the U.K., U.S., and Australia, making it the most successful musical ever produced in schools. Cameron Mackintosh is currently developing a film of Les Misérables with Working Title and Universal.”

That British motion-picture version of the musical, directed by Tom Hooper (The Damned United and The King’s Speech) from a screenplay by William Nicholson, Alain Boublil, and Claude-Michel Schönberg, is scheduled for release on Dec. 7, 2012. The film will star Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, Russell Crowe as Inspector Javert, Anne Hathaway as Fantine, Eddie Redmayne as Marius, Amanda Seyfried as Cosette, Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter as Monsieur and Madame Thénardier, Samantha Barks as Éponine, Aaron Tveit as Enjolras, and the original West End Jean Valjean Colm Wilkinson as the Bishop of Digne. The original West End Éponine, Frances Ruffelle, will play a prostitute.

Broadway Series South and the North Carolina present LES MISÉRABLES at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14-17 and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 18 and 19 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.

TICKETS: $60.25-$135.75 (including fees).

BOX OFFICE:

Progress Energy Center Box Office: 919-996-8500 or info@progressenergycenter.com (information only).

Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115203/34216.

SHOW: http://www.progressenergycenter.com/event/lesmiserables-354 and http://www.nctheatre.com/shows/les-miserables.

VIDEO PREVIEWS: http://www.lesmis.com/gallery/videos/19.

STUDY GUIDE: http://www.lesmis.com/education/study-guide/.

PRESENTERS:

Broadway Series South: http://www.progressenergycenter.com/broadway-series-south.

North Carolina Theatre: http://www.nctheatre.com/.

NCT BLOG: http://www.nctheatre.com/stage-notes.

VENUE: http://www.progressenergycenter.com/venue/memorial-auditorium.

DIRECTIONS: http://www.progressenergycenter.com/directions.

PARKING: http://www.progressenergycenter.com/parking.

NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh (http://www.artsaccessinc.org/) will audio describe the 2 p.m. Feb. 18th performance.

OTHER LINKS:

The Musical: http://www.lesmis.com/ (official website), http://www.lesmis.com/home_usa.php (U.S. Tour), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Misérables_(musical) (Wikipedia), and http://www.ibdb.com/show.php?ID=5340 (Internet Broadway Database).

U.S. Tour Cast and Creatives: http://www.lesmis.com/cast-and-creatives/ (official web page).

Cameron Macintosh: http://www.cameronmackintosh.com/ (official website).

J. Mark McVey: http://www.jmarkmcvey.com/ (official website).

Andrew Varela: http://www.andrewvarela.com/ (official website).

Jenny Latimer: http://jennylatimer.blogspot.com/ (her blog).

Max Quinlan: http://www.maxquinlan.net/ (official website).

Betsy Morgan: http://broadwayworld.com/people/Betsy_Morgan/ (BroadwayWorld.com).

Chasten Harmon: http://broadwayworld.com/people/Chasten_Harmon/ (BroadwayWorld.com).

Richard Vida: http://broadwayworld.com/people/Richard_Vida/ (BroadwayWorld.com).

Shawna M. Hamic: http://www.shawnahamic.com/ (official website).

Jeremy Hays: http://broadwayworld.com/people/Jeremy_Hays/ (BroadwayWorld.com).

The 2012 Film of the Musical: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Misérables_(2012_film) (Wikipedia) and http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1707386/ (Internet Movie Database).

The Novel: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Misérables (Wikipedia).

The Novel (e-text): http://openlibrary.org/works/OL1063591W/Les_Miserables (Open Library at the Internet Archive).

Victor Hugo: http://www.gavroche.org/vhugo/ (Victor Hugo Central, compiled by John Newmark), http://www.victorhugo.gg/ (the States of Guernsey’s Official Victor Hugo website), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_Hugo (Wikipedia).

The France of Victor Hugo: http://www.mtholyoke.edu/courses/rschwart/hist255/ (Robert Schwartz of Mt. Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA).

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

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