(Fisher Theatre, Detroit - Dec. 11th, 2003)
From the audience reaction Thursday night, it was clear that “Les Miserables”, the 1987 Tony Award winner, was back for another successful run at the Fisher Theatre. Valjeans’s entire quest through the tumultuous times of the French Revolution for a just and peaceful life takes on a real significance in our trouble times.
Randal Keith took Jean Valjean from his unjust years in prison, through manning the barricades during the revolutionary years in France and finally to his death with a strong yet tender portrayal. The injustice of trivial imprisonment is repeated in preemptive arrests today. The audience was treated to and appreciated Keith’s soaring voice. He was chosen for the final performance of Les Miz on Broadway and has toured extensively with “The Phantom of the Opera”, “Evita” and “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”.
The entire main cast and ensemble deserved their standing ovation for their fine performances. The Broadway credentials of Ma-Anne Dionisio shown through as she held the crowd with her evocative voice in her interpretation of Eponine, hopelessly in love yet willing to give all. James Clow did great justice to Javert, the policeman originated on Broadway by Terrance Mann, in his portrayal of a good man led astray by the government of his day.
The children put on especially polished performances. Playing Gavroche, the street urchin, Daniel Wright was memorable and moving as was Nadine Jacobson, the young Cosette, child raised by Valjean. Children who are homeless or without parents, wandering streets or being raised by those who do not care enough were made to seem as real as they truly are.
The excellent production design and implementation brought the feeling of the era to life. The smoothness of the transitions utilizing the 34 foot turntable stage made this famous musical a seamless emotional journey. As the audience felt the urge to cough from the smoke, we were drawn into the atmosphere of the battlements staged on the twin 6 ton barricades littered with fighting and fallen soldiers. The echoes of gunshots reverberate strongly in our new century.
Reviewed for Exclusive Magazine by James Willis