Les Miserables | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg's thrill ride of a mega musical rampages through Victor Hugo's epic 1862 novel, leaping from crisis to catastrophe to conflict to climax. The songs spell out every subtext while the plot omits such crucial details as who it is that's killing these noble students and what it is that's driven them to the barricades. (Details, details.) The challenge for the audience, impossible to meet, is to feel as much as Schonberg's music pretends to. More intimate than the Auditorium presentations, this latest touring Les Miz is more than adequately ardent. The splendid suffering of Randal Keith's pile-driving, octave-ranging Jean Valjean is worthily matched by the pit-bull implacability of his nemesis, Robert Hunt's Javert. As the Thenardiers, David Benoit and Jennifer Butt are as evil as Valjean is good, in the process suggesting that seemingly impossible thing, French white trash. Opens Thu 3/17, 7:30 PM. Through 4/24: Tue 7:30 PM, Wed 2 and 7:30 PM, Thu 7:30 PM, Fri 8 PM, Sat 2 and 8 PM, Sun 2 PM. Sun 3/20, 2 and 7:30 PM. Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph, 312-902-1400. $27-$80.

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