The national touring company of Les Miserables is taking the unprecedented step of replacing the entire Broadway company, as of Jan. 28. The critics will weigh in with their reviews at that time; here's a chance for Les Miz fans everywhere to beat them to it.
Write your review -- long or short -- and e-mail it to Managing Editor Robert Viagas at firstname.lastname@example.org. Reviews will be posted as they come in.
We're particularly interested in hearing from audience members who've seen more than one version of the show. How does the bus & truck company compare to other versions you've heard or seen?
Please include your town and state, and please note whether you'd like us to include your full e-mail address so you can receive responses. This is optional, of course.
Here are the responses so far: From Ching-yuan Hu (email@example.com) Iowa City, IA:
I have seen Les Miserables three times, all three times were the touring company. The first time I saw it, I was in awe by the performance of Jessica Snow-Wilson who played Eponine. I was happy to see that she made it onto Broadway. Most recently, I saw Les Miz twice in October of 1996 with the Touring Company 3. The whole company swept me off my feet, and I was impressed by a number of the performers, including Robert Evan (Valjean), Rober Longo (Javert), Marius (Rich Affannato), Eponine (Dawn Younker), and the list goes on. Apparently this is the cast which will be taking over Broadway while they reset for the 10th Anniversary. I don't think that those of you who will be seeing performances will be disappointed. The cast was strong from top to bottom and put all their effort into the performances. This effort was conveyed into the characters they portrayed, and they were convincing as well. If you ask me 3 or 4 years from now who was on the cast, I'm sure I will be able to recite many of the names. Best wishes to the cast of Les Miz and I hope to be able to see this show again soon. (1/14/97)
Rich Whitcombe, Batavia, NY:
I saw this touring company perform Les Miz at Sheas Buffalo Performing Arts Center in Buffalo, New York on October 15 (opening night in Buffalo). Robert Evan performed the role of Jean Valjean, and was outstanding. The whole cast was first rate and really deserves to be playing the show on Broadway. It's just a shame that they won't be back in Buffalo for another year!
Other performers that I saw perform the show in Buffalo were Robert Longo as Javert, J.P. Dougherty as Thenardier, Lisa Capps as Fantine, Becky Barta as Mme. Thenardier, Dawn Yunker as Eponine, Rich Affanato as Marius, and Brian Herriot as Enjolras. (12/25/96)
From B.P. (firstname.lastname@example.org):
On December 25, I saw the touring cast of Les Miserables at the Forrest Theatre in Philadelphia,and I can see why they are being brought in to spell the Broadway cast while recasting occurs. Overall,I think this was the most solid cast that I've seen. I previously saw Les Miserables on Broadway on June 8 and July 15 and liked certain performers,although I wasn't enamored by the whole cast. The touring cast doesn't have a weak link vocally, or in the acting.
Rob Evan is a solid and believable Valjean who does a great job "aging" as the show goes on. David Jordan is relentless and imposing as Javert in pursuit of Valjean. Rich Affannato portrays Marius well. Kate Fisher sings clearly as Cosette and her acting is great. J.P. Dougherty and Tregoney Shepherd make a nice pair as the Thenardiers. They blend together well and are hilarious,but also appear dirty and deceiving,like they are supposed to. Brian Herriott as Enjolras really acts like a leader. Andrea McArdle was really excellent as Eponine and Laurie Beechman was a strong Fantine,but they were brought in for the Philadelphia stop.
When I saw the Broadway company on July 15,the performers were for the most part (There were understudies for Valjean and Javert,as well as a different Marius,though),the same as those I had seen on June 8,but I didn't enjoy the show as much as I had roughly a month prior. Everything seemed to be off,as if there was something missing. I like watching for little details and idiosyncrasies of each performer and their performance,but I didn't see that many. But when I saw the touring cast,there were so many little details to pay attention to. It seemed really fresh and vibrant. The interaction between characters seemed extremely natural,and every performance was crisp and vivid. Until I saw the touring cast,the June 8th show was my favorite,but looking back,there were certain performers who I thought were stellar,but overall,it didn't have the same charm as the touring cast has. I would gladly go and see the touring cast again before they leave Philadelphia or venture to NYC to see them on Broadway. (12/26/96)
Charlie Veprek, Boston, MA:
When I saw the touring company Saturday, Oct. 26th in Providence, RI, I had no idea that his company would be taking over on Broadway, but now that I have heard this news I feel that this company will pull off its transition with aplomb. The performances of the touring company were excellent. As I write reviews of individual performers, I apologize that I have lost my playbill and am not able to remember all of the names. I will try to include whatever details I can remember.
VALJEAN: Excellent. His voice, though somewhat nasal, was excellent. I am no professional voice coach, but I thought he was very good.
JAVERT: Another excellent performer. He and Valejan acted very well together, which made their conflict even more enjoyable.
THENARDIER: He truly deserves to go to Broadway. He made the role as funny as it possibly could bave been...I saw the show last thanksgiving on Broadway and the Thenardier was more energetic. He also seemed to have different blocking from when I saw it before. He added more side glances and belches and burps and other comedy relief and made his much funnier than I had remembered.
FANTINE: I will say without a doubt that the Fantine in this company was the best I have ever heard of any recording. Broadway, London, and 10th Anniversary. She was simply incredible.
EPONINE: In the performance I saw, Eponine was played by an understudy named Catherine Brunell, whose powerful, belting voice and emotional singing merits a promotion to a full-time lead role. She was excellent, very clear and added more emotion to "Little Fall of Rain" than I had previously heard before. I would be extremely disheartened to hear that on Broadway she should be an understudy. She deserves the lead. MARIUS: Another excellent job. (There seems to be some pattern here...) He and all of the ABC Students did an excellent job with "Drink With Me" and "Do You Hear the People Sing."
Sorry if I left people out, I have only a limited memory. In short, I feel that this touring crew will do an excellent job on Broadway. This Ensemble was excellent and should be very well recieved by audiences at the Imperial Theater. (10/31/96)
From Brian Graham, Woodbridge VA (email@example.com):
The National tour, in Washington DC, was the first production I saw of Les Mis, and I have to say I was very disappointed. None of the actors, with the exception of Enjolras, had very powerful voices. Plus they all tended to be very melodramtic, inserting pauses and such into places they just didn't fit, often making the songs very difficult to listen to. Ivan Rutheford played Valjean, and not very well. He actually has a very nice voice, but he was simply WAY too young for that role, and more importantly, no matter how much makeup they used, it couln't be hidden. He bounced around like a young man, even in the final scenes. The few good cast members were Enjolras, Gavroche(probably the best actor/singer in the show), little Cossette, Grantiere, and the Thenadier's. (10/29/97)