I love Les Misérables. Even after seeing two touring productions in the '90s and the Broadway production in 2000, the prospect of seeing Boublil and Schönberg's mega-musical, drawn from Victor Hugo's epic French novel about human struggle that culminates with the student-led Paris revolt of 1832, in its current touring incarnation at the National Theatre ranked high on my "eager anticipation" scale. And boy, does this Les Miz deliver the goods in exceptional fashion.
Randal Keith and Jayne Paterson set the performance bar at a lofty level as, respectively, Jean Valjean and Fantine. Both have richly gorgeous voices perfect for the show's sung-through pop-operatic style. There's plenty of room at the top, though, and magnificent moments emerge again and again in the first-rate performances of Stephen Tewksbury as Javert, Jessica-Snow Wilson as Eponine, Stephen Brian Patterson as Marius, Amanda Huddleston as Cosette, and Dallyn Vail Bayles as Enjolras.
I firmly believe that just about anyone who hasn't seen Les Miz is missing out on a great, powerful musical theatre experience. And I'm confident that Les Miz fans will find this production entirely worthy of their adoration.
Through January 4, 2003, at the National Theatre, 1321 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Tickets are $20 to $77. Call 800-447-7400. Visit www.nationaltheatre.org.