When it comes to musical theater spectacle and pathos, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any show doing that combination better than “Les Miserables.”
The show still packs a punch here in 2018, as proven by the touring production playing now through Dec. 16, at the Fox Theatre.
I’ll spare you the Cliffs Notes summary of the complex plot, which for a musical to pull off is truly impressive. Most musicals would struggle under the weight of an Adam Sandler movie plot, but I digress.
The hero of our story is Jean Valjean (Nick Cartell), a prisoner who breaks his parole but turns his life around to become a noble and wealthy man. Cartell is very good as Valjean, boasting a stellar vocal range, although some of his acting choices left me feeling like he was doing a very good Hugh Jackman impersonation.
Pursuing Valjean throughout the years is police captain Javert (Josh Davis). Davis is a good counterbalance for the show and is more than up to the task when Javert takes center stage.
Another important role, although with limited stage time, is Fantine (Mary Kate Moore), an unfortunate factory worker who becomes destitute and, before her death, entrusts Valjean with the care of her daughter Cosette (played as a child by both Madeleine Guilbot and Vivi Howard on alternate nights, and as all grown up by Jullian Butler).
Moore makes the most of her time on stage and delivers one of the production’s best performances during the signature song “I Dreamed a Dream.”
Other notables include Joshua Grosso as Marius, a revolutionary-minded student who falls for Cosette. This role is usually fairly forgettable, but Grosso is sneaky good and has some of the better vocals amongst the cast. Also of note is Matt Shingledecker as revolutionary leader Enjolras, who delivers a solid performance, but stands out with an impressive mane of hair that would make Patrick Swayze jealous.
Paige Smallwood is also very good as Eponine, a peasant girl who longs for Marius’ affections.
“Les Miserables” is one of those shows that sits at the top of every musical theater fan’s “must-see” list, and for very good reasons. It is a show that consistently delivers and whether it is your first time or your 30th time to see it, it’s guaranteed to make an impact.
The show is in town for a limited run, so try your best to catch it if you can.
“Les Miserables” is playing now through Dec. 16, at the Fox Theatre. For tickets call 314-534-1111 or go to metrotix.com.