Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Show & Tell: Les Miserables

For my inaugural evening as a Show & Tell reviewer, I drew Les Miserables, one of the best known musicals of the past 25 years. My daughter and I were filled with anticipation as we entered the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center Tuesday evening for the opening night of a eight performance run here in Appleton.

I must first admit that prior to this I did not know much about this classic show. I was advised by some friends that I should at least get an overview of the storyline and characters. Fortunately, there is a concise synopsis in the program to assist any novices, such as myself. Once the lights went down and the curtain came up, we were taken on a wonderful 2 ½ hour ride.

Two of the constants in the performance were Jean Valjean, an ex-con who has broken his parole, and Javert, the officer sworn to bring him back to justice for his past transgressions. Their paths crossed throughout the evening as Valjean strives to be a man who does right by those around him while dealing with the secrets of his past. Both characters bring a strong voice to the story, notably Valjean’s “Bring Him Home” and Javert’s “Soliloquy.”

There was no shortage of amazing vocal moments from the rest of the characters, including “On My Own,” “”I Dreamed a Dream” and the haunting “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables.” The set and visual effects blended seamlessly as the story unfolded.

All in all, this was an amazing evening of theater. I enjoy performances that bring emotions right to the surface, and then let them out. This show did not fail to deliver. As we left the Center, I felt very fortunate to have been able to see such a performance in our community. It is easy to see why this story has produced a run of such length. If like me, you have not yet experienced Les Mis, seize the opportunity while it is right in your backyard. You will not be disappointed.

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