Misérables not miserable

Revolution has taken place at Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center in Midland. Gunfire, young love, and redemption of a thief took over the stage and gave a show that will haunt your memory. This show was Les Misérables, and this musical was true to its genre.

Every word was sung, even if it was just a normal conversation between Cosette and Marius, two of the main characters in the second act.
While I can’t sing well, I thought the actors and actresses sung beautifully, through Marius and Jean Valjean were my favorite singers. Marius displayed his heartbreak in his rendition of Empty Chairs and Empty Tables in a way that tore through the heart. The beautiful false curtain production used to veil the dead during this song gave a beautiful effect.

Marius, surrounded by his fallen friends, was a beautiful moment. His voice broke wonderfully in the song while still maintaining his resonating voice. Valjean’s actions portrayed a character of redemption and full of love even for the lawman Javert who wants to put him behind bars for breaking the law.

The barricade scene could have done more justice to the reality of the bloody French Revolution. Gunshots sounded like pop noises from toy guns instead of thundering bullets.

Drums would have depicted the beat of the war, but sadly the producers decided not to do these little effects better. This scene was a huge one in the book and in history, but was downplayed in this production. The actual barricade set piece was nicely done though.

Gavroche, a young brave boy who thought he ran the town, was my favorite character and reminded me of my younger brother. His song in Second The Attack was enough to bring me to tears. In his final moments when his voice breaks, I could hear the sniffling and crying around me. His fearlessness was magnificent up to the very end.

The play did not say that he was the son of the Thénardiers, and I only found this out through discussing it with some of the attendees at the play. Despite this untold connection, I still loved Gavroche played by Brock Bizzel the most out of all the cast.

Adult Cosette, played by Missy Snow, seemed to be a lesser character in the play. She had a pretty voice, but I don’t feel like she was a main character. Young Éponine was practically nonexistent in act one, while she is given a bigger part as a tyrant to young Cosette in other productions.

Éponine in adulthood during act two was another redemption from bratty to kind. She was love-struck with Marius, though Marius wanted Cosette. She perfectly portrayed the struggle of being “friend-zoned” by the love of her life.

Master of the House was performed by Carl Moore and Lisa Barnett who played Thénardier and his wife. They treated young Cosette horribly in act one. This song was funny and will be stuck in my head for some time. These characters were bad people throughout the play, but were always entertaining to watch. I commend their performances for being funny.

Enjolras, leader of the rebellion in the play, had only one purpose in his life, the revolution. He was brave and a great singer, but not a main character, which I thought was the right way to do it.

This production went with a minimalist set design, which I usually dislike, but this really worked. It showcased the fine acting
In Javert’s last scene, the backstage crew lowered a lit Parisian bridge, and it really created the right scene for Javert. Just the right amount of beauty and finesse.

I have to give the orchestra high marks for never outdoing the performance. Their music fit every situation and gave hints to how the next scene would turn out. It felt classic and pure, and that’s how it was supposed to be.

I have never seen or read Les Misérables, but after watching this, I may just have to.

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