Highlighted by powerful voices and strong performers you witness moments of brilliance followed by moments of beauty. Every performer on the stage at the Benedum Center pours all that they have into their performance making Les Misérables one of the best musicals I have seen on a Pittsburgh stage in a long time.
Our story begins in 1815 where we listen to the chain gang sing as they sweat in the heat and get beaten by the prison guards, we meet Jean Valjean who is in prison for stealing a mouthful of bread and is about to be let out of prison on parole by Inspector Javert. Valjean, after not being able to succeed in life and be what he wants in life decided to leave the live of Jean Valjean and live a better life. This of course leads Javert to hunt down the man known as Valjean, and this turns into a lifetime chase.
We meet up with Valjean a few years later and he is a wealthy man, and has the life he wanted. He meets a woman named Fantine who struggles to earn money to pay her daughter’s keepers back at home, when Fantine turns sick Valjean vows to keep her daughter, Cosette, safe and raise her to have everything she ever needed. At this time, however Javert knows who he is and Valjean must again run, get Cosette from Thénardier, and go back into hiding.
Close to ten years after Valjean gets Cosette we find them in Paris where a group of students are about to start the French Revolution. Valjean is on the town with Cosette one day when he runs into Thénardier and his gang, along with his daughter Eponine and her friend Marius. When Thénardier recognizes who Valjean and Cosette are, there is a scuffle, which brings in Police Inspector Javert who finds it odd that when he questions Thénardier the other man runs. Javert realizes this to be Valjean and the final battle to throw him in jail is on.
The CLO did a marvelous job in casting the leads, which with their powerful voices made this show the gem … no diamond that it is. Fred Inkley plays Jean Valjean with relative ease and his vocal range from top to bottom was as close to perfection as you would expect. His performance of “Bring Him Home”, one of the more famous songs in the show made the audience roar with applause, and they did not stop cheering until the conductor was forced to go on with the show.
Javert was played by Robert Cuccioli, famed for his portrayal of the title role in Jekyll and Hyde on Broadway, turned in one of my favorite performances of the night. His powerful voice and strong acting turned in one of the best performances I have ever heard and seen of the song “Stars”, Javert’s prayer to the Lord to let him find Valjean.
Other powerful performances were turned in by Ashley Spencer as Eponine; her strong acting drew tears from the audience in both “On My Own” and “A Little Fall of Rain” as she died in Marius’ arms. Matthew Scott was Marius, one of the leaders of the Students; his beautiful tenor voice was very enjoyable to listen to. Scott’s performance along with Spencer in “A Little Fall of Rain” was very emotional and heart wrenching, making it a beautiful moment in the show. Scotts’ virtuosity also shone in “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”, where he showed that you can show pain and anguish via song as he sings to his fellow students, now dead.
With only four performances left if you are a fan of the theatre here in Pittsburgh I urge you to see this show, as something like this does not come around all the time. To get tickets call the Box Office at 412-456-6666 or stop by the CLO’s website.
Shows are Friday and Saturday at 8pm, and
Saturday and Sunday at 2pm.
©Brian Peters/ The Examiner - Pittsburgh.