The lights dim, the music rises, the show begins. A trim young man walks onto the stage and with a steely gaze sends a chill across the room. At that moment, I knew this was going to be something special. I knew the story, had encountered it in various ways over many years, but this felt different and indeed it was.
Les Miserables, currently playing at the Zach Scott Theatre through November 3, 2013, soars and takes the audience with it. It is not just the story. Most of the audience is more than familiar with the story. It is how the talented Broadway director Matt Lunz shapes and crafts his vision of the story.
The foundation for this exceptional production is the amazingly talented cast. Starting with Inspector Javert played by Broadway actor Nicholas Rodriguez and Jean Valjean played by Broadway actor Pat McRoberts and encompassing the smaller roles and members of the ensemble, the singing voices are strong and the acting skills create characters that are believable, engaging, and exciting. They breathe life into these characters and give them a vitality all too often missing in many live theatre productions
The performances by Andrew Cannata as Marius, Jill Blackwood as Fantine, Gracee Street as Young Cosette, Jennifer Young Mahlstedt as Cosette, Traci Lee as Eponine, and Roberto Araujo as Thenardier were especially compelling and noteworthy.
A production as strong as this one obviously owes so much to Matt Lenz for his vision and direction, as well as the talented team that supported this production: Allen Robertson (musical director), Greg Graham (choreography), Cliff Simon (scenic design), and Whitney Adams (costumes).
The set design created an appropriate sense of time and place, while the transitions were smooth and timely. The production moved forward as if by magic. The barricade set was breathtaking in size and design. Not only that, it rotated!!
Les Miserables by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg with music by Claude-Michel Schongerb and Lyrics by Herbert Kretzner runs through November 3, 2013, at the Topfer Theatre in Austin, TX. Performances are Wednesday – Saturday at 7:30 pm and Sunday at 2:30 pm. For ticket information call 512-476—0541 ext. 1 or go to www.zachtheatre.org.