The revival of Les Miserables comes weighted with history, and not just the French Revolution as Victor Hugo imagined it: a long running Broadway original, a more recent revival, an Oscar nominated movie just last year. Certainly producers are counting on a familiarity with the material, the show's rich music covered by many pop vocalists. But with its superb casting and recent trim, this Les Miserables revival at the Imperial Theater is simply stunning.
And I am not alone in my opinion as evidenced by the audience's response at a recent performance. They were loving it, as they say, leaping to their feet as one for a standing ovation. The superb production owes much to the perfect balance between the leads Jean Valjean (Ramin Karimloo) and Javert (Will Swenson), the women, Fantine (Caissie Levy), Cosette (Samantha Hill), and Eponine (Nikki M. James), and the ensemble throughout, under the expert direction of Laurence Connor and James Powell. The songs can be heart-wrenching as the characters experience the lofty ideals of the revolution and the concomitant tragic consequences: Valjean's "Who Am I?," Fantine's "I Dreamed a Dream," Javert's "Stars," and the company's "One Day More," are some of the standouts in a roster of familiar songs performed in character. But the comic relief combo of the Thenardiers, Cliff Saunders and Keala Settle, the thieving innkeepers sing "Master of the House," still makes me smile. Featuring such powerhouse performers, Les Mis could be a showcase for any of them, but this ensemble comes together so well; it's a great night of theater
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