West Point, NY
October 24, 2003
'Les Miz' makes comeback
Touring company brings musical to West Point stage
By Angela Batchelor
For the Poughkeepsie Journal
Love, courage, dishonesty, sadness, poverty and death are all wrapped and lavishly delivered in one Broadway musical — ‘‘Les Miserables.’’
And if you never had the opportunity to see the production during its 16-year run on Broadway, now’s your chance to catch the touring production of the epic saga when it comes to the Eisenhower Hall Theatre at West Point starting Tuesday.
‘‘(It’s) a story of redemption that people can connect to in any shape or form,’’ said Jenny Bates, public relations manager at Manhattan-based Allen Wasser Associates for the “Les Miz” national touring company. Bates viewed her first performance when she was 8 years old.
She says the performance is still first class.
‘‘I’m glad it’s back to New York for more people to see,’’ said Bates.
The Cameron Mackintosh production of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michele Schonberg’s ‘‘Les Miserables’’ fills the stage with the trademark 34-foot turntable, two 12,000-pound barricades, 1,000 costumes, five fog machines, 422 lighting instruments, 18-member orchestra and 36 cast members.
This touring company is a carbon copy of the original production. Randal Keith, who performed the role of the fugitive Jean Valjean in the final Broadway production, makes a comeback with the touring company, which also features James Clow as Inspector Javert and Tonya Dixon as Fantine.
When Canadian resident Randal Keith first saw “Les Miserables” on stage, he decided there was no role for him in the show, although he was touring with the musical “Phantom of the Opera,” in which he has starred as Monsieur Andre, the juvenile Raoul and the “Phantom.”
“I was not a pure tenor, so I auditioned for the role as Inspector Javert,” Keith recalls. “The director asked me to sing some of Valjean's music and six years later the orchestra is playing my song,” Keith says, excited to once again hit the stage after the Broadway closing.
In 1986 the musical debuted in London and is still running. The following year, it swept across America with its initial performance at the Kennedy Center. The production, which won the 1987 Tony Award for Best Musical, has been seen by more than 50 million people worldwide, ending its 16-year run on Broadway this past May.
Adapted from Victor Hugo’s classic novel, the story explores social history through three decades of 19th-century France.
The driving force is fugitive Valjean, who struggles to evade capture for stealing a loaf of bread.
His lifelong sentence is his chase with Inspector Javert, who is steadfastly on his heels. The hunt leads to the barricades of the French Revolution, where the show winds up living up to the ‘‘miserable’’ portion of its title. Yet the angst and tragedy are leavened with humor.
The sad yet inspirational piece “I Dreamed A Dream” is sung by Fantine, the dying unwed mother who begs Valjean to care for her child Cosette. Dixon's Broadway appearances include “Dreamgirls,” “Ragtime” and “Lion King.”
The most touching scene, according to Bates who has seen the show more than 25 times, is when Valjean sings ‘‘Bring Him Home.’’
‘‘It is a prayer to God to bring his daughter home,’’ said Bates. ‘‘With our own troops in Iraq, the prayer reflects the world’s feelings today.”

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