Les Miserables Redux

Here is my taxicab confession: I have never liked Les Miserables.

I know, I know but it just seemed too big. Yes, the original story was epic and sweeping, but instead of telling an epic story, they focused on the epic production. Lots of people waving big flags on a giant RCA record player.

The stagecraft was ooh-aah, but it didn’t move me at all, and I really wanted it to.

There may be new life for it. Producer Cameron Mackintosh has opened Les Miz up for reinterpretation. From the Philadelphia Enquirer:

Other than school drama groups that used a cut-down version, no one has been permitted to mess with the look and feel of Les Miz – until now. Overnight, an iconic piece of theater is open to reinterpretation for the first time since its 1985 debut by the Royal Shakespeare Company in London.

One of the theaters chosen to retry it was Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia. It opened last week, and the only review I could find was on theatermania.com:

Indeed, this is an impressively nuanced Les Miz — one which, while retaining the show’s grandeur, also seems incredibly intimate.

Words like “nuanced” and “intimate” are very encouraging for this piece. Although I’m happier to see new offerings than retreads, I am all for scaled down storytelling.


2 Responses to Les Miserables Redux

  1. RScott says:


    Or should I say, Tres Bien, Mon Ami!! I heartily agree, the thing is severely over-produced, bloated, and down-right dull. Why are we the only two people on the planet who know this?

    (but between you and me…neither one of us would turn down Thenardier, would we? I mean, in a sea of self-indulgent arias, he gets all the laughs!)

  2. Tom M. says:

    Flash and Dash – empty vanities all. I prefer Grizabella under a single spot:

    “Regard that woman
    Who hesitates toward you in the light of the door
    Which opens on her like a grin.
    You see the border of her dress
    Is torn and stained with sand,
    And you see the corner of her eye
    Twists like a crooked pin.”

    Now *that* is a Memory.

    Good heavens – Elaine Paige and I were born the same year!

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