Tuesday night Cameron Mackintosh’s 25th Anniversary production of the musical Les Miserables made a stop in Detroit at the Fisher Theatre.
The new version features new staging and scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo and cuts down the musical’s running time to under three hours.
Les Miserables is based on Hugo’s classic novel of the same name and is a uplifting story about the survival of the human spirit built around chain gang fugitive Jean Valjean and the oppressed people he meets in early 19th Century France.
The musical originally opened in London at the Barbican Theatre on October 8, 1985 and became the world’s longest running musical in 2006.
It has been seen by nearly 60 million people worldwide in 42 countries and in 21 languages.
The Detroit engagement of the production began on Tuesday and runs through April 3.
During this run Lawrence Clayton is portraying Valjean, the first African American actor to portray the character, but on Tuesday night Ron Sharpe had to step into the role.
Sharpe is the only actor to have played both Marius and Jean Valjean on Broadway and he more than proved his prowess in Detroit getting the audience’s attention right from his first number and never letting go.
The production also features fantastic performances by Andrew Varela as Javert, Michael Kostroff as Thénardier, Shawna M. Hamic as Madame Thénardier, Betsy Morgan as Fantine, Jeremy Hays as Enjolras, Chasten Harmon as Éponine, Justin Scott Brown as Marius and Jenny Latimer as Cosette.
However, it was the production’s young cast members who really stole the show: Katherine Forrester and Anastasia Korbal alternate in the role of Little Cosette/Young Eponine and Josh Caggiano and Colin DePaula alternate in the role of Gavroche.
This version of the musical has been criticized for changing things too much but I felt the production’s use of the Hugo backgrounds really enhanced the story and new technological advancements made scenes like the tunnel escape come to life in ways it never had before.
This version’s quicker pace and the actor’s passion make for a great show.
Of course, the key to any successful musical is it’s music and the actor’s used that same passion to bring the popular soundtrack to the audience in spectacular fashion.
From the heartfelt “I Dreamed a Dream” and “Bring HIm Home” to the hilarious “Master of the House”, the packed Fisher Theatre crowd was engaged and enjoying themselves, showing their approval at the end of the first act and jumping to their feet at the end of the show for a long standing ovation.
Tickets prices for Les Miserables Detroit run start at $39 and are on sale at the Fisher Theatre box office, all Ticketmaster locations, by phone at 1-800-982-2787 and online.