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Les Misérables | The Fabulous Fox Theatre

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Maybe in a different production she could have gotten by with an OK performance, but in Les Misérables, she should bring her A-game every night.

 

By Alain Boublil and Claude -Michael Schönberg
Music by Claude-Michael Schönberg
Lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer
Directed and adapted by John Caird & Trevor Nunn
Through July 23, 2006

St. Louis has been honored with the distinction of being the final city in which the touring company of Les Misérables will be performed before heading back to New York. There have been three touring companies since November 1987 and this company—The Marius Company—has been in existence since 1988.

Seeing how this company has been on the road since I graduated high school (gasp!), it should go without saying that they are a class act. To critique the story would be a professional gaff on my part, since Les Misérables is a sensational story full of drama wrapped around love, duty, and the triumph of the human spirit. With this in mind, all I really have to look at are the performances-and there were plenty of spectacular ones to keep me entertained.

Randal Keith once again took on the lead role of Jean Valjean. As in his appearance here last year, Keith's performance was breathtaking. The man can command the attention of the audience no matter if he is barreling out a show stopper like "Who Am I?" or seducing his listeners with the emotional "Bring Him Home." When Keith performed the latter song, the audience may have been interpreting the lyrics on a more personal level, as I was surrounded by a gaggle of women who let their emotions get the better of them. Keith's flawless performance of the song worked on several levels.

Also turning in terrific performances were Robert Hunt as Javert, Jennifer Butt as Madame Thénardier, and Daniel Bogart as Marius. Both Hunt and Butt were with the last troupe to hit St. Louis, but Bogart was a fresh face. Each of these performers kept the energy alive on stage by giving their performances a sense of emotion and depth.

However, there were a couple of actors who failed to impress me: Joan Almedilla as Fantine and the other was Meg Guzulescu as Young Cosette. Almedilla's vocal performance was just OK; nothing really outstanding. Maybe in a different production she could have gotten by with an OK performance, but in Les Misérables, she should bring her A-game every night. With heavy hitters like Keith and Hunt dominating the stage, Almedilla was easy to forget. Guzulescu's performance was less than stellar. Not only was it hard to hear the little lady, but she couldn't decide if she wanted to be sharp or flat. Am I being too evil for picking on a child performer? Perhaps, but Austyn Myers-who played Gavroche, the little boy who thought he ran Paris-managed to make his presence known by filling the entire stage with his larger-than-life persona.

Visually, the show succeeded with its brilliant set design and beautiful costume creations. The rotating stage allowed the story to take on several different dimensions by giving the audience a 360-degree view into several scenes. The costumes are not overly colorful, and the attention to detail is exquisite enough that it helps complete the illusion on stage of a war-torn country.

Overall, the amazing technical aspects combined with remarkable vocal performances make this final engagement of this legendary musical one not to miss.

For more information, visit the Fabulous Fox's Web site.

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