‘Les Miserables’: A new, fast-moving production

Cameron Mackintosh’s “Les Miserables” has returned to the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco as a revamped  25th anniversary production with a first class touring company. And it has brought just about everything with it from its Broadway production.
When Victor Hugo wrote his classic novel that sweeps through three turbulent decades of 19th century France, he never could have envisioned his story with the splendid music and presentation of this legendary production.
Now in its 25th year in London, “Les Miz” has been translated into 21 languages and played in 38 countries with more than 50 major awards. It is the first in Broadway musical theatre history to play in China. “Les Miz” has been seen by 60 million people worldwide and doesn’t seem to be losing steam.
This show was the second longest running on Broadway and has a following with an insatiable appetite to see it over and over again with standing ovations. This is more than a Broadway musical; it is an opera, and as operas must have superb singers, this production offers the finest in all the leading roles.
Peter Lockyer is magnificent as Jean Valjean. His stunning tenor and counter tenor presents remarkable moments, like when he plaintively prays for the life of Marius, his daughter’s love, with “Bring Him Home.” The audience reacted with well-deserved appreciation. He carries a heavy load and is in almost every scene of this very long production.
Max Quinlan as Marius, Cosette’s love, is another jewel. His sound is clear and pure and is a joy to hear and watch. He is well-cast as the idealistic, gentle rebel.
The obsessed Javert is ably carried by Andrew Varela (an original from the new version), who holds his own with this illustrious company.
Brina Carlson-Godman as Eponine puts a poignantly impish spin on the part and delivers with a moving, emotional charm.
Excellent kids alternate and add strong support with Erin Clearlock and Abby Rose Gould as Little Cosette and Young Eponine and Joshua Colley and Marcus D’Angelo as Gavroche.
Lawrence Connor and James Powell co-direct with detailed attention and move the production at expeditious speed that holds attention throughout the multi-plotted story.
The entire cast is first rate and the production is sharp and fresh. Considering many companies of “Les Miz” have been touring for 20 years with some cast members appearing in it for 20 years, keeping fresh and sharp is a tribute to everyone. This “Miz” has almost another generation of actors.
It is a deep, dark heavy plot so be prepared to pay attention even if you have read the book. The storyline in the play has many subplots and Matt Kinley’s new sets (inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo) moves quickly. Blink and you will miss an important moment. Lighting by Paule Constable and sound by Mick Potter enhance the production into believability. Andreane Neofitou’s costume design is right on mark for the time portrayed.
“Les Miz” takes the prize for one of the longest first acts, so be comfortable before you are seated.
This new production of “Les Miz” is a masterpiece that should not be missed. Music lovers will savor its richness and theatre aficionados will appreciate its creativity.
Camille Bounds is the arts and entertainment editor for the Western Division of Sunrise Publications.

Where: Orpheum Theatre, 1192 Market St., San Francisco
When: Through Aug. 26
Tickets: $30-$150
Details: (888) 746-1799