Miserable yet magnificent
Sacramento Community Center Theater1301 L St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
Logically and emotionally, there’s every reason for Les Misérables to fall flat: It’s based on a 19th-century French novel, the plot is dark and unnerving, and it’s becoming trite (a 25th-anniversary tour of the stage production is underway, following the 2012 film version). Nevertheless, the current cast of the touring musical performs the well-worn story with power, urgency and conviction, closing out California Musical Theatre’s Broadway Sacramento season with a bang.
For its 25th anniversary, Les Mis (as it’s known colloquially) has been revamped with—but not inundated by—new technology. With a new digital backdrop featuring art inspired by the paintings of Les Mis author Victor Hugo, a simple sauntering through a sewer becomes one man’s journey to help save the youth of France from extreme class segregation, a mission to bring justice to a woman from suffering the wrath of a sexist society and a devotion to defend love amid a lethal firefight.
Everyone in this production sings the music of Claude-Michel Schönberg and lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer with great enthusiasm. This cast collectively makes most of the actors in the 2012 film version sound pitifully amateurish (with the exception of Hugh Jackman, Amanda Seyfried and Samantha Barks). With this inspired production, a 19th-century struggle becomes relevant again, and the audience is left to ponder the dramatic ethical dilemmas facing modern society and politics.