chance to catch Les Miserables at Fox Theater
September 19, 2003
- It is one of the all-time classics of
literature, and finally Atlantans can have a full feast of Les
Miserables at the Fox
The play is based on Victor Hugo's novel of
the same title but, even without being fresh up on the book, I was able to
follow the story, thanks mainly to the eloquent songs and amazing voices of the
- The acoustics of the theatre are impressive
and enhance the experience of watching a Broadway show.
- The music flows from scene to scene with
barely a pause. One marvels at the musicians in the pit and their flawless
synchronization with what is happening on stage.
- The show is remarkably briskly paced and will
keep you on your toes as you struggle to keep apace with it. And yet,
for the crucial scenes, the tempo drops down and the audience is permitted
to soak in the emotion and empathize with what is taking place.
- It is inevitable that a theatrical adaptation
will lose some of the richness of the book on which it is based. However, I
found Les Miserables the Broadway show to be an absorbing and whole
- The visuals, songs and theatrical feel more
than made up for any compromises with the content of the book or
- Besides, there is so much that is added to the
narrative of the story by virtue of it being dramatized. The dramatization of
Fantine's death, with white light bathing her death bed and her dying request to
Valjean to take care of her daughter, left a lasting impression.
- The story is set in France, amidst the turmoil
of the French Revolution, and revolves around Jean Valjean, played by Randal
- Valjean is imprisoned for 19 years of his life
for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving nephew.
- The play opens with Valjean violating his
parole and entering the life of a fugitive. His nemesis, Javert (James
Clow), is a police inspector who considers it his duty to uphold the law and
bring to justice those who flaunt it.
- The relationship between the two is strange,
convoluted and intriguing. The book covers it in much more depth, having
better characterized both the defender of the law and the transgressor.
- On stage you see both of them performing
diametrically opposite things, both in the name of God. Javert is ultimately
unable to reconcile the truth of his life with that of Valjean's and meets a tragic end.
- Returning to the story, 19 years of cruelty
and mistreatment have embittered Valjean and he has lost all faith in human
- However, one deed of extraordinary kindness
rekindles his good nature and he dedicates his life to helping those in
need. Within eight years of starting his life anew, Valjean becomes a factory owner and
- One of the women working at his factory,
Fantine (Tonya Dixon), is harassed by Valjean's foreman and appeals to him for
- Valjean doesn't hear her and unwittingly
spurns her in her hour of need. Fantine, who has an illegitimate daughter, suffers a
cruel fate and ultimately dies in Valjean's arms. He promises to care
Fantine's girl, Cossette, for the rest of his life.
- What follows occupies most of the play. The
production has a sprawling cast and, though it is sometimes difficult to keep track
of them all, most of them do a competent job.
- There is a curious mix of superficiality and
depth to the show. Though you root for Valjean, the nuances of his personality are
lost. However, this is admirably compensated by Randal Keith's spectacular
- The same goes for James
Clow's portrayal of Javert. Some of the
best songs of the show belong to Keith, Clow
and Tonya Dixon.
- The most realistic scenes are those from the
uprising. The scenes depicting the night-long battle are very well executed. For
this scene, the stage is transformed into a very convincing barricade with action shown
from both sides of it.
- Special mention must be made, at this point,
of the unique ways in which the set design adds to this tale of sad souls.
- Perhaps I have watched too many films and too
few plays, but the startlingly different use of space in theatre is rather
- The way in which the barricade is managed and
the people are shown traveling vast distances through a rolling stage just
adds to the appeal of watching a live performance.
- Overall I highly recommend attending the show.
The music is great, the story is ambitious-in all, the show is rather good and
time watching it is time well spent.
- The show will be playing for the rest of this
weekend at the Fox Theater off Peachtree Street.