Since 1980 more than 60 million people in 42 countries have delighted in Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s musical adapted from Victor Hugo’s novel “Les Misérables.”
In September, Seattle’s Balagan Theatre mounted a smaller production on Capitol Hill that was greeted with raves. Now it’s the turn of Village Theatre in Issaquah and their stunning production directed by Steve Tomkins is even better.
Just in case you don’t already know the story, its hero Jean Valjean (played with power and dignity by Greg Stone) stole bread for a starving child. After 19 years in prison at hard labor, he returns to society and with indomitable spirit remakes his life. Around him are the downtrodden, the vindictive, the greedy. It’s a story about love, about obsession — in short, it’s an exploration of the human condition.
Musical director R.J. Tancioco pulls out all the stops here. Powerful solos alternate with exquisite harmonies in the ensemble numbers. The orchestra captures every emotion. It’s stirring for revolution, tender for romance.
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So many stylish performances mark the production. Nick DeSantis and Kate Jaeger as the nasty, covetous Thénardiers are the source of most of the humor. Beth DeVries as Fantine will break your heart. Eric Polani Jensen gives a nuanced performance as the relentless policeman Javert. But it seems unfair to pick out the few for praise when so many deserve it.
This is a show that also has outstanding production values. The lighting by Tom Sturge consistently reinforces the emotions of each scene. Watch the sky behind the Paris streets. Its color changes with the action — red for revolution, gray for the aftermath, starry blue for love. And Fantine’s corpse; her face is the color of death.
Enjoy the streets of Paris as re-created by Scott Fyfe — the buildings, their windows, the manner in which the streets change. And be wowed by Cynthia Savage’s costumes.
The story may have been around a long time, but Village has given it an exciting rebirth.
Nancy Worssam: firstname.lastname@example.org