‘Les Misérables’ returns to Utah with a dazzling productionJun 21, 2023 11:43AM ● By Peri Kinder
Nick Cartell stars as Jean Valjean in the beautiful production of “Les Misérables” which runs at the George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Theater through July 2.
Utah audiences adore “Les Misérables” and the touring production at the George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Theater is sure to reawaken that love with its gorgeous sets, beautiful staging and soaring music.
It really shouldn’t work. Who sets a musical during the unsuccessful and bloody 1832 uprising in Paris against King Louis-Philippe, with a cast of criminals, prostitutes, miscreants and bawdy innkeepers? But work it does, with lead characters bringing the house down with their strong vocal performances.
“Les Misérables” is still the most popular musical in the world, with a magnificent score that includes crowd favorites like “I Dreamed a Dream,” “On My Own,” “Bring Him Home,” “Master of the House” and the anthem “One Day More.”
The Tony Award-winning production, with music by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg, presented by Cameron Mackintosh, is based on Victor Hugo’s novel that tells the story of Jean Valjean (Nick Cartell), a man who serves a 19-year prison sentence for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister’s family. When he breaks parole, he is tracked by the relentless, misguided and unforgiving police officer Javert (Preston Truman Boyd) as their paths cross several times over the course of their lives.
Valjean adopts and raises Cosette (Addie Morales), the daughter of Fantine (Haley Dortch), one of his factory workers who resorts to prostitution and tragically dies. The innkeepers, Thenardier (Ciaran Bowling) and Madame Thenardier (Christina Rose Hall), who neglectfully and abusively raised Cosette as a child, provide much-needed comic relief from the doom and gloom of Hugo’s novel, and their performances are top-notch.
As Valjean tries to redeem his dark past, Cosette falls in love with Marius (Gregory Lee Rodriguez), a student who gets caught up in the revolution. His friend and daughter of the innkeepers, Eponine (Christine Heesun Hwang), helps him connect with Cosette, even though Eponine is heartbreakingly in love with Marius.
As the uprising is quashed and most of the visionary (if delusional) young men are killed, Valjean and Javert meet for the final fateful time and, later, Valjean has the opportunity to bring great joy to Cosette through a heroic act.
This musical has it all. Love, redemption, battle, loss, grief, secrets, raunchy lyrics, devotion and sacrifice. The production is lush and gorgeous and is a beautiful reimaging that keeps this timeless show in the hearts of its fans. Which are many, in Utah.
“Les Misérables” runs at the George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Theater through Sunday, July 2. Visit saltlakecountyarts.org/events/les-miserables for ticket information.