I don’t know much about musicals but…
Like just about anyone else whose knowledge of musicals is made up of parodies that have been done on The Simpsons, I have also been captivated by Les Miserables. In fact, my story begins shortly after meeting my wife. On one not-so-very-long car trip, as I remember, she put it disc 1 of the original Broadway cast soundtrack of the the musical.
Filling in the blanks in the plot between the songs, she told me the story of an epic that until then I had only known by the name and the face of some little girl on the posters. From that point on, I was hooked even to the point of watching (twice) the entire WHYY pledge special with the 10th Anniversary concert performance starring Colm Wilkinson as Valjean. (Gotta say, that Patrick Stoner and David Rubinsohn sure could sell it!)
I’ve also listened to the soundtrack about 300 times since that first time about a year ago.
Well, I finally got to see it at the Walnut Street Theater last Thursday night and despite what I’ve since learned are changes from the original production, it is fantastic. I was not disappointed in the least.
My only – and very minor – complaint would be the performance of Paul Schoeffler as Javert. He seemed to rush through several of his songs, so much so that at times it was difficult to understand him. As my wife pointed out, she could practically see the spittle flying from his mouth as he prattled through his lines. He did cut an imposing figure in that uniform however.
While no one could live up to the standard set by Wilkinson, Hugh Panaro performed admirably as Valjean and effectively reflected the changes to his character over a lifetime of hardship, success, regret and redemption.
The smallish Walnut Street Theater space accommodated the expansive set without losing any of the impressiveness of Les Miz’s traditional epic qualities.
Ok… back to that soundtrack. One day more…
UPDATE: Have you seen this latest re-creation of Les Miz at the Walnut? Feel free to add your thoughts or any of your fun Les Miz stories to our comments section.