Musical Fan Favorite 'Les Miserables' Once Again Thrills Orlando Audiences

The production runs through Sunday, October 27, 2019.

October 21, 2019

It's been over 30 years since Les Miserables established itself as a musical powerhouse, first on the London stage and then on Broadway.

Like one of its contemporaries, fellow through-sung musical entity The Phantom of the Opera, it has shown no signs of waning in popularity over the past 30 plus years. And if Tuesday night's incredibly enthusiastic audience reception as the long-running revival tour arrived at Orlando's Dr Phillips Center for the Performing Arts was any indication, Les Mis is still an audience darling. 

In case you're unaware of its origins, Les Mis (a nickname given the show early on which is so much easier to type) is based on the Victor Hugo novel and was created by the French musical theatre team of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg. British mega-producer Cameron Macintosh saw its major potential and brought it to London, adding English lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer. The rest is history.

In its simplest form, Les Mis is the story of Jean Valjean (Nick Cartell), a man imprisoned for a crime of necessity and the French inspector Javert (played in Orlando by understudy Andrew Love) who doggedly pursues him after he breaks his parole and reinvents himself as a successful businessman. 

While the conflict between these two men is central to the tale's overall story of perseverance, forgiveness, and redemption, plenty of other characters are introduced along the way, including: factory worker turned prostitute Fantine (played in Orlando by understudy Olivia Dei Cicchi); her daughter Cosette (Jillian Butler), who is rescued by Valjean from her villainous caretakers the Thénardiers (Jimmy Smagula and Allison Guinn); their daughter Éponine (Paige Smallwood); and the young man unknowingly caught in a love triangle with Cosette and Éponine, Marius (Joshua Grosso).

While the original production was well-known for its effective turntable stage, this staging is a dark affair, where it is often difficult to make out the scenery. This incarnation also seems to have upped the musical tempos dramatically for a cast with uniformly strong voices.

But no one on stage is as vocally strong as Cartell. His renditon of Valjean's Act 2 ballad "Bring Him Home" is spectacular, with his soaring tenor pitch-perfect and the emotion behind the song conveyed honestly. It's undoubtedly the most memorable moment of the entire show.

For a serious show, there is no lack of humor though, with Smagula and Guinn as the Thénardiers bringing in the occasional comic relief. Even Grosso's Marius finds more humor in the role than is typically seen. 

Les Mis is an emotional show, and this production pulls no punches. The finale found lots of sniffles in the audience before rapturous applause as the show concluded.

If you're a Les Mis fan, this production is one not to be missed. 

Les Miserables plays the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts at 8 p.m. through Friday, October 25; at 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, October 26; and at 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, October 27. An additional matinee has been added at 2 p.m. Thursday, October 24. Click here to purchase tickets.