Les Miserables | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Performing Arts Review

Les Miserables

by

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

comment

LES MISERABLES, Auditorium Theatre. A decade after it opened on Broadway (where it's still playing), this pop opera remains an icon of the Reagan era, preaching compassion for the poor and oppressed while serving up shallow spectacle to the middle-class masses. The score, by Claude-Michel Schšnberg, Alain Boublil, and Herbert Kretzmer, contains several well-crafted songs amid reams of repetitious recitative--but as brought to the big stage by director-adapters John Caird and Trevor Nunn, those songs are smothered in a wash of bombastic sound. This is the kind of show that measures emotional intensity by how far afield a vocalist's vibrato wobbles.

Telling Victor Hugo's epic story with comic book efficiency despite a running time of more than three hours, this slick touring edition achieves narrative clarity but little emotional texture. Headlining a strong-voiced cast is Gregory Calvin Stone as the handsome, stalwart Jean Valjean (the parole buster who eludes the law for 17 years); Rona Figueroa brings a pop-star stylishness to the role of the love-struck waif Eponine. But though the significance of Les Miserables as an 80s showbiz phenom is beyond dispute, the work itself never achieves the nuanced sense of dramatic discovery that would earn it such acclaim. --Albert Williams

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  →