John Szablewski Reviews

Theatre Review: ‘Les Miserables’ at RBTL’s Auditorium Theatre

“One Day More” The National Touring Company of “Les Miserables.” Photo by Matthew Murphy.

The only thing I had known about “Les Miserables” was what I had heard on the “Forbidden Broadway” cast recording. “At the end of the play you’re another year older.” I thought that was funny, but I didn’t realize that it was actually true. That show was long. It is phenomenal, but my goodness, it goes on forever. To my amazement, the show is masterfully written and is masterfully performed. This show is an experience that I will never forget.

It is breathtaking, it is beautiful, and most importantly, it is timely.

“Les Miserables” is based on the Victor Hugo novel, taking place during the French Revolution and telling the tale of Jean Valjean (Nick Cartel) as he tries to redeem himself in society after spending the last nineteen years in slavery for a crime that he committed. After becoming a factory owner and changing his name, Valjean meets Fantine (Mary Kate Moore), who has an illegitimate daughter and on her deathbed, Valjean says that he will find her daughter and care for her. Valjean finds Cosette (Jillian Butler) at an orphanage of sorts, and purchases her, looking out for her wellbeing and raising her as his own. If this seems confusing, it is. I had to read the synopsis at intermission, and then it clicked!

The music in this show is hauntingly beautiful and I could not believe how much music there is in this show. It never stopped, and flowed effortlessly from one number to the next, barely leaving time for applause, and you know what, I loved it. I realized during this production just how much time we spend applauding during musicals. I love showing my appreciation and love to the actors on stage, but when the music segues to the next song, it keeps me in the moment and I stay tuned to the story. I never thought about this until this show.

Leading the show as Jean Valjean is Nick Cartel who has a voice of steel. His range is mind blowing as he controls his vocal prowess to hit magical notes. Cartel’s performance is raw, emotional, humane, and perfect.

Josh David is deliciously evil as Javert, the constable who is out to find Valjean to bring him back for skipping parole. You dislike him, but love every time he enters the stage. His vocal ability sends chills down your spine with how fantastic they are. He does not disappoint.

Éponine played by Paige Smallwood and Cosette played by Jillian Butler, are both phenomenal women who know how to entertain and who both bring tears to your eyes when they sing. They are both absolutely beautiful.

Overall, the show is long, but as a student of theatre, and let’s face it, who isn’t, this show should be on everyone’s theatre bucket list. It is breathtaking, it is beautiful, and most importantly, it is timely. When the tour comes to you, go see this show!

Running Time: 2 Hours 45 Minutes with one 15-minute intermission.

“Les Miserables” closed on November 24, 2018, and was presented at RBTL’s Auditorium Theatre in Rochester. For more information, click here.