Ever since “Les Miserables” first graced Broadway in 1987, the musical has been a beloved favorite of fans. NC Theatre’s production, directed by Dave Clemmons, proves that, despite its growing age, the musical can still emotionally captivate an audience. The story, spanning from 1815 to 1832 and set mostly in Paris, follows several struggling characters as they make their way through life as best as they can in the tumultuous political and economic atmosphere of the time. The story can feel somewhat disjointed and difficult to follow for those not familiar with the play or with Victor Hugo’s work, upon which it is based, so knowing at least the basic outline of the story is helpful for first-time viewers.
Even first-time viewers, however, will undoubtedly fall under the spell cast by the production’s powerful actors and their even more powerful voices. Craig Schulman stars as the indomitable Jean Valjean, a man who has been knocked down and picked himself up more times than one can count. Schulman, who has played the character on Broadway, lends his booming voice and rugged appearance to bring the character to life. And then there’s Lauren Kennedy as Fantine, a role she too has played on Broadway. Kennedy is beautiful as the ill-fated Fantine, and her voice is positively angelic; she gives a particularly memorable rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream.” Other stage-stealers include Riley Campbell, who uses her hauntingly sweet voice to endear “Young Cosette” to the audience; English Bernhardt as the self-sacrificing Eponine; and the hilarious Dirk Lumbard, who utilizes his long limbs and gangly appearance to add physical humor to Thenardier. His version of “Master of the House” is one of the show’s highlights, providing some much needed humor and lightness in the middle of this heavy material. Another impressive musical number is “Red and Black,” which makes uses of colored, perfectly timed lights to help the number stand out.
Les Miserables is, above all else, a production filled with timeless themes, and this version offers a great way to fall in love with the story for the first time or the hundredth time.
Broadway Series South and the North Carolina Theatre present LES MISÉRABLES, starring Lauren Kennedy as Fantine and her daughter, Riley Campbell, as Young Cosette at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 15 and 16, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 17-21, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 22 and 23 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.
TICKETS: $52.65-$120.40 (including fees).
Duke Energy Center Box Office (information only): 919-996-8700 and email@example.com.
NCT Box Office: 919-831-6941, ext.6944.
Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115203/803968.
GROUP RATES (10+ tickets):
Broadway Series South: 919-996-8707, firstname.lastname@example.org, or http://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/broadway-series-south/group-sales.
North Carolina Theatre: 919-831-6941, ext. 5204, or http://www.nctheatre.com/tickets/group-sales.
SHOW: http://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/event/lesmiserables-4014 and http://nctheatre.com/shows/les-miserables.
Broadway Series South: http://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/broadway-series-south and https://www.facebook.com/broadwayseriessouthraleigh.
North Carolina Theatre: http://www.nctheatre.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/pages/North-Carolina-Theatre/24276860186.
2014 BSS SEASON: http://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/broadway-series-south.
2014 NCT SEASON: http://nctheatre.com/2014-shows.
NCT BLOG: http://www.nctheatre.com/stage-notes.
Les Misérables (1862 historical novel): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Mis%C3%A9rables (Wikipedia).
The Novel (e-text): http://openlibrary.org/works/OL1063591W/Les_Miserables (Open Library at the Internet Archive).
Victor Hugo (French novelist, 1802-85) 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).
Les Misérables (1980 Paris, 1985 West End, and 1987 Broadway musical) http://www.lesmis.com/ (official website), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Mis%C3%A9rables_%28musical%29 (Wikipedia), and http://www.ibdb.com/show.php?ID=5340 (Internet Broadway Database).
Study Guide: http://www.bard.org/education/studyguides/lesmiserables/miserables.html (Utah Shakespeare Festival).
Claude-Michel Schönberg (music): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude-Michel_Sch%C3%B6nberg (Wikipedia).
Alain Boublil (French lyrics and book): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alain_Boublil (Wikipedia).
Herbert Kretzmer (English lyrics): http://www.herbertkretzmer.com/ (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_Kretzmer (Wikipedia).
Trevor Nunn (English book): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trevor_Nunn (Wikipedia).
John Caird (English book): http://www.johncaird.com/ (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Caird_%28director%29 (Wikipedia).
Les Misérables (2012 film) http://www.lesmiserablesfilm.com/ (official website), http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1707386/ (Internet Movie Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Mis%C3%A9rables_%282012_film%29 (Wikipedia).
Dave Clemmons (BBS and NCT guest director): http://www.texasmusicaltheaterworkshop.com/portfolio/dave-clemmons/ (Texas Musical Theater Workshop bio) and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dave-Clemmons-Casting-Masterclasses/55283883094 (Facebook page).
Craig Schulman (actor): http://www.craigschulman.com/ (official website).
Chuck Wagner (actor): http://chuckwagner.com/ (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuck_Wagner (Wikipedia).
Lauren Kennedy (actress): http://www.laurenkennedy.com/ (official website), https://www.facebook.com/slaurenkennedy (Facebook page), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lauren_Kennedy (Wikipedia).
Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/susie-q/. To read more of her writings, click http://www.susiepotter.com and http://www.myspace.com/susiepotter.