Circa’21 is currently showing Les Miserables, the fifth-longest running Broadway show.
Les Miserables, or as it’s commonly abbreviated, Les Mis, is a sweeping epic set in post-revolutionary France. It entails the life of parolee Jean Valjean as he watches over an orphan named Cosette, and is hunted by Inspector Javert over the course of almost 20 years. You will also see Fantine, Cosette’s mother, and her struggles at the beginning. Marius fall in love with Cosette, Eponine’s unrequited love with Marius, and the June Rebellion of 1832.
The entire cast was spectacular, each voice stunning with every song. Don Denton thrilled as Valjean, while Eboni Fondren cracked the audience up as Madame Thenardier. The set was simple yet resourceful, the stairs moving as needed for scenes. During Eponine’s “On My Own” and Javert’s “Soliloquy (Javert’s Suicide)”, the background was lit up as if there were stars.
Having never seen Les Mis before, I wasn’t certain what to expect when I saw it on Jan. 25th. I’d heard the general storyline and some of the songs (thank my theatre nerd friend Abbie for that). I wasn’t disappointed with the staging of the heart-wrenching “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”, the background being lit red and the characters who had died at the barricade materializing. They stepped forward as Marius continued singing, only to disappear by the time he looked over.
At the finale as Valjean died, Fantine and Eponine appeared to guide him to heaven. Those who had died in the Revolution appeared for the finale and reprised “Do You Hear The People Sing?”. They then joined hands as they sung, the theatre going dark as the final note echoed. The lights then returned for the cast to be greeted by a standing ovation.
Overall, I’d give this performance of Les Miserables a five out of five yellow papers. You can go see it until March 21 at Circa’21 in downtown Rock Island. To purchase tickets, visit circa21.com or call (309) 786-7733.