Les Miserables comes to Fort Worth's Bass Hall this week with a lot of hype. Widely reported as the most incredible production in the twenty five year history of the show, this Les Mis does not disappoint. Set in France in the early part of the Nineteenth-Century Les Mis has finally brought a genuine Broadway experience to North Texas.
An incredible story of broken dreams, unrequited love, it show's one man's continued sacrifice and ultimately his redemption. Jean Valjean spends his life after nineteen years in prison-for stealing bread to feed his sister, and attempted escape-making the world a better place, positively impacting lives and he does it facing enormous challenges at every turn. When he agrees to care for factory worker Fantine's young daughter-they will all be changed forever.
The incomparable score of Les Mis includes such classic show tunes as the incredibly fun “Master of the House”, the emotional “On My Own” and of course the iconic “Dream A Dream”. With Susan Boyles' famous rendition of the latter imprinted on nearly every mind in the world, I did not expect to be impressed by the song here. I was very pleasantly surprised. The song is presented, as is the whole show-in a striking and amazingly fresh and impressive new way.
While many touring shows are amazing and bring the highlights of seeing a broadway show right to our doorstep, Les Mis is the first I have seen that actually brings the experience of Broadway. Walking out of the theater at intermission to head across the street to the Barnes and Noble I did a double take realizing I was in downtown Fort Worth and not in New York City.
Tours typically scale down the production as they are rarely in a singular location more than a week, packing, transporting, unpacking, setting and striking a set are all major considerations for a tour. Here producers have thrown those considerations out the window. It takes 80 stage hands 16 hours to load the 5,000 props, 5,000 Costume pieces, 350 lights and some 55,000 pounds of scenery into place for each city. It is literally a non stop round the clock job putting on this amazing show.
The cast is all Broadway too. Peter Lockyer as Jean Valjean is perfection. His Broadway credits include Les Mis and far to many to mention here. Andrew Varela as Javert (who he played on Broadway) plays Valjean's nemesis spot on.
Betsey Morgan as Fantine and Briana Carlson-Goodman as Eponine are alone worth the cost of admission. Morgan's “I Dream a Dream” is pure brilliance.
Timothy Gulan as Thenardier with Shawna M Hamic as Madame Thenardier provide the precise amount of comic relief appropriate for such a story. Anytime they grace the stage it is pure joy.
In a cast of this caliber it would be near impossible to pick a standout if he weren't adorable ten year old actor Joshua Colley. How a preteen can strut onto a giant Broadway sized stage surrounded by giant Broadway sized talent and steal the show is beyond me, but he does, and does it in a big way. I predict an amazing stage career for this pint sized dynamo.
Les Miserables, the third longest running show in Broadway history plays Fort Worth's Bass Hall through Sunday. Tickets are $66-$126.50 and are available at basshall.com
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