Les Miserables
Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium,
July 3 -8, 2018 (seven shows)
Tickets start at about $50 including fees/taxes
Produced by Broadway Across Canada

Review by GRAHAM HICKS,  Hicksbiz.com

So put up your hands, if you have seen Les Miserables at least once.

All of you? Not surprising.  Various editions of the touring Broadway show have visited Edmonton/Calgary in 1990, 1992, 2013, and now 2018. The 2012 movie, with Hugh Jackman in the lead role, was faithful to the script/book, and again brought this magnificent story and score to public consciousness.

Put up your hands, if you’d like to see it again … and again … and again.

All of you?

Hardly surprising!

Les Miserables is fast securing its reputation as one of the 20th Century’s most enduring operas/musical theatre. It will likely, over time, join the 20 or so shows that are the staples of the opera world. The book upon which it is based, Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, is considered one of the greatest novels ever written.

Les Miserables transcends time.  The show becomes more passionate, more universal, more soaring the heights with its every revival.

Revisiting Les Miserables, this time around at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium until Sunday July 8, the timing is just about perfect.

You forget the nuances of its extraordinary plot, but remember the main characters – the noble Jean Valjean, his life-long nemesis Inspector Javert, the tragedies of  Fantine and Eponine, and their redemption through Fantine's daughter Cosette.

But you remember all the beautiful songs: You weep as Fantine (Mary Kate Moore) whispers “I Dreamed a Dream” or her daughter’s “Castle on a Cloud”.  You are so sad for Eponine “On Her Own”. You laugh with the comedic relief of “Master of the House.”

This production is a sturdy rendition of Les Mis, using superb visual backdrops to create the texture and grandeur of the student-led French rebellion of 1832.

Les Mis does not depend upon stars on the stage -  the show itself is the star. The ever-moving sets, the superb live orchestra are major characters unto themselves, as is the collective passion of the big cast.

The actors in this touring show are not well-known, all being at the start of promising careers. But all have the stage presence necessary, and all are blessed with spectacular singing voices perfectly aligned with the demands the score makes on each character.

The weight of the enormous three-hour show – that takes place over 17 years – rests on Jean Valjean's shoulders. In his first  break-out role, Nick Cartell is admirable, especially his sweet, powerful tenor that effortless soars to the mountains.

The cast are all first-rate, everyone filling their niche with grace and power.  But it’s the voices one remembers – the bell-like clarity of Mary Kate Moore as the doomed Fantine, Jillian Butler singing just as sweetly as Fantine’s daughter Cosette, the rumbling bass notes of Josh Davis as the conflicted Javert, the lost-love agony of Eponine as played by Emily Bautista.

Les Miserables endures, because it’s so universal in its grand vistas.  Best left to author Victor Hugo himself to explain why his novel, and its many formidable off-shoots, are so compelling.

“The book which the reader has before him at this moment is, from one end to the other, in its entirety and details ... a progress from evil to good, from injustice to justice, from falsehood to truth, from night to day, from appetite to conscience, from corruption to life; from bestiality to duty, from hell to heaven, from nothingness to God. The starting point: matter, destination: the soul. The hydra at the beginning, the angel at the end.”