- Since its Broadway debut in 1987, “Les MisŽrables,” the
opera based on Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel, has toured the
world, won over 100 awards, been translated into 22 languages
and delighted over 65 million people, including those of us at
Skylight Music Theatre’s opening night.
Molly Rhode’s capable direction, this huge show has been
adapted for the smaller, more intimate setting of the Cabot
Theatre, no small task. Despite the somewhat cumbersome set
design, which was not very adaptive for the more intimate
scenes, the soaring music more than made up for it.
Hugo, like Charles Dickens, was a political activist, ever
concerned with the injustices in society. This work, so
beautifully enhanced by the work of musical composer
Claude-Michel Schonbert and lyricist Alain Boublil, was
translated into English by Herbert Kretzmer. It emphasizes the
strength of the human spirit and the power of forgiveness,
also highlighting the price people have to pay in their
efforts to change themselves or society.
are so many memorable songs and haunting motifs woven into the
story of Valjean’s life journey that one can’t mention
them all. Probably the most popular are “I Dreamed a
Dream,” “On My Own,” and “I Can Hear the People
Sing,” but there are many others worth noting, including the
rousing “Master of the House” by the exuberant innkeepers
Mr. and Mme Thenardier, the poignant “Empty Chairs and Empty
Table” by the young soldier Marius, and the heart-wrenching
“Soliloquy,” the final hopeless reflections of Javert, the
obsessed police inspector.
me, the most beautifully rendered melody of all was
Valjean’s soulful “Bring Him Home.”
show is lengthy and everything is sung, but the significance
of the story and the emotionally engaging music keep one glued
to the stage.
many musically gifted vocalists, none equaled Luke Grooms, who
played the leading role as Valjean with power, variety and
sensitivity. Also worthy of specific mention are Andrew Varela
as the driven Javert; Kevin Massey as the lovelorn Marius,
Eric Mahlum and Rhonda Rae Busch, who offered comic relief as
the conniving innkeepers, Melissa Fife as the bereft but brave
Eponine, Susan Weidmeyer as the idealistic Cosette, Tommy Hahn
as the inspiring revolutionary Enjolras and Jake Koch as the
spunky tyke Gavroche.
ensemble numbers (performed by 16 additional vocalists) are
powerful. The orchestration by Robert Linder is well-balanced.
The costumes by Carol J. Blanchard are authentic, and Peter
Dean Beck’s lighting is creative; he also designed the set.
is a production that will probably sell out as did the one
recently shown at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.
Don’t delay and regret it. This is the kind of show that
Miserables” runs through Dec. 29 at the Broadway Theatre
Center, 158 N. Broadway, Milwaukee. For show times and
tickets, call 414-291-7800 or visit www.skylightmusictheatre.org