Tuesday, December 14, 2010

REWIND: Signature's 'Les Miserables' (2008) Part 1

Since we are in the midst of a current revival of excitement for the epic musical 'Les Miserables' with the recent 25th Anniversary Concert in London, thought it would be of interest to post production photos from the Signature Theatre version. Especially since returning from Washington, DC this past week, this would be an appropriate time for a revisit to Signature's 'Les Mis'.

The production played the Max theatre from December 2008 and extended to March 2009. The production starred Greg Stone as Jean Valjean. He performed the role of Chris in the national touring company of 'Miss Saigon' ten years earlier which made one of its final stops in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Knowing the production would be presented in a small theatre, I wondered how could the production be staged. Just the sheer number of cast members in 'Les Mis' would appear to be direction nightmare.

Greg Stone as Jean Valjean
But director Eric Schaeffer found how to reinterpret the piece for the Signature stage. This 'Les Mis' had an almost punk edge from the appearance of leather-like material in some costumes to the glass and twisted metal comprising the set design.

None of the epic feel of the musical was lost as the production enveloped the audience with the cast making some entrances through the audience. The lack of a proscenium allowed the production to use the full width of the stage.

The performances were equally a surprise especially Stone. He displayed the strapping figure needed to portray the ex-con and a sterling vocal to match. Felicia Curry's harmonic and boyish Eponine was a stand out in the ensemble.

The company on the barricade.
This production set a standard for this reviewer. Theatre companies which try to duplicate the scale of the original production will pale in comparison. Find the right talent to take the stage and more than half the battle is won. As concert versions have proven, the strength is in the score and storytelling.

After 'Les Miserables' and this seasons's 'Sunset Boulevard,' one wonders what production Signature will tackle to match these highlights. For more info on the theatre company and their current and past productions, visit signature-theatre.org.  Click "Read more" below for more production photographs.

The empty barricade set.
The company singing "One Day More"

Tracy Lynn Olivera as Fantine
Greg Stone as Valjean
Tom Zemon as Javert
Andrew Call as Marius and Stephanie Waters as Cosette
Sherri L. Edelen and Christopher Block as the Thenardiers
Andrew Call as Marius and Chris Sizemore as Enjolras
Felicia Curry as Eponine.
The whores of the 'Lovely Ladies' number.
Chris Sizemore as Enjolras (center) leads the students.
(all production images: Signature Theatre)


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