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Los Angelenos at Pantages Theater
By Amanda Wheeler
Cameron Mackintosh’s reimagined production of Boublil and Schonberg’s Les Misérables is currently running at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles, offering enthusiasts an exceptional opportunity to experience unequivocally, one of the most exceptional ensembles and productions in the history of this beloved musical, well outshining the 2012 film adaptation of Victor Hugo’s revered novel illustrating the stark juxtaposition between good vs evil, justice vs injustice, heroes vs antiheroes, and sin vs redemption.
At the heart of this performance is Nick Cartell’s embodiment of Jean Valjean, a man wrestling with his soul, following a 19-year incarceration for the theft of a loaf of bread. Cartell’s profound intimacy with the role resonates through his voice, his tenor voice effortlessly transitioning from a commanding deeply powerful vibration in “Who Am I?” Act 1, to a heartrending tenderness as Valjean’s character evolves in Act 2, highlighted by an ethereal rendition of “Bring Him Home” brilliantly showcasing Cartell’s virtuosity, deftly navigating vocal dimensions and encapsulating the essence of Valjean’s profound metamorphosis.
Preston Truman Boyd’s embodiment of Javert, does justice to the challenging role that often eludes lesser performers. The interactions between Valjean and Javert stand as the most riveting moments in the performance. The palpable desperation of both men propels each confrontation to greater depths, culminating in a shattering crescendo in Act 2.
On a lighter note, Christina Rose Hall and Matt Crowle as M. and Mme. Thénardier, offer up masterful comic relief with Crowle stealing the show with his physical nimbleness and self-absorptive vulgarity in “Master of the House” and “Beggars at the Feast.” Also, of note is Christine Heesun Hwang’s Éponine, who is entangled in a world of conflicting loyalties and emotions. Hwang voice in “On My Own” captures the nuances of her character magnificently.
The remarkable stage design by Matt Kinsley, which he claims was partially inspired by Victor Hugo’s evocative paintings, has a complex simplicity that seamlessly integrates mesmerizing, animated projections without appearing to be overdone, although the stage maneuvers implemented during Javert’s “Soliloquy” is still somewhat of a mystery to me. Paule Constable’s masterful lighting design throughout the show, complements this visual spectacle through her precise infusion of layers of darkness and light.
The oxymoronic nature of the novel is embodied in the musical composition by Schönberg, along with Kretzmer’s poignant lyrics, accentuated through the reimagined vision of Cameron Mackintosh and implemented through directors Laurence Connor and James Powell, will stir emotions, and satisfy the musical’s faithful and recruit new members into the fold. With an exceptional cast, this rendition of Les Misérables emerges as an unmissable theatrical masterpiece, rightfully securing a place on every theater enthusiast’s roster of must-see performances.
Les Misérables Through September 10
Hollywood Pantages Theatre
6233 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028
www.broadwayinhollywood.com (323) 468-1700