Thursday, September 25, 2014
The Orlando Shakespeare Theater hit a home run by bringing Les Miserables to Orlando. Based on a book by Alain Boublil with Music by Claude-Michael Schönberg and Lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer. It is adapted from the novel by Victor Hugo. It was masterfully directed by DJ Salisbury with musical direction by Ken Clifton. It was raining like a typhoon on the evening I went to see the show. I must have seen a dozen ambulances on the dive to the theater and traffic was backed up on every major artery. That however didn't keep people from coming to the show. It was a sold out house. The woman seated next to me in t in the Loge told me that this was her second time seeing the show. She wanted to share it with her husband who was with her for this performance.
Set in the early 19th-century, a French peasant named Jean Valjean (Michael Hunsaker) is on a quest for redemption after serving nineteen years in jail for for stealing a loaf of bread. When a compassionate bishop inspires him with a tremendous act of mercy, Valjean decides to start his life anew, but is relentlessly tracked down by Police Inspector Javert (Davis Gaines). Along the way, Valjean and a slew of characters are swept into France’s revolution, where a group of young visionaries make their last stand at a street barricade.
Several times during the performance I was lifted and move close to tears by the power of the show music and performances. Despite being set in the crucible of a revolution, it is the stories of love that set the show ablaze. As Fantine's (Lianne Marie Dobbs) life spirals out of control, she sang of the love she knew for one glorious summer. It is one of the most beautiful and sad songs to ever hit the stage. Davis gains brought the role of inspector Javert to life with his incredible voice. Éponine (Caitlyn Caughell) sang a beautiful song of unrequited love for Marius'. She does everything he asks, even arranging for him to meet Cosette whom he loved at first sight. She ends up getting shot as she struggles to bring the couple together and she finally discovers what it is like to be held in his arms as she dies having been shot in the revolution while trying to get to him.
This show packs an incredible emotional punch. Michael Hunsaker's performance had me fully emotionally invested in every scene. The show succeeded on every imaginable level. The thunderous applause should never stop. As the new Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center nears completion, this production proved that Broadway quality productions are already being produced in town. Show continue through October 11th. Many shows are already sold out and for good reason. Don't miss Les Mis!