LES MISERABLES WAS, AT TIMES, MISERABLE

Please. Before you get upset with me, hear me out. The performances by the actors of Les Miserables, now playing through July 2 at the Music Hall, were not to blame. In fact, I agree with Jenny’s assessment of lovesick Eponine, whose performance was heartfelt and moving, and whose songs I could actually hear! It’s the dang acoustics/sound system. Every time I go to a show there, I vow never to return because I can never understand the lyrics of any song. Problem is, that’s the only place to go right now, and even after the Wyly Theatre opens, the Dallas Summer Musicals will still be at the Music Hall. Sigh.

Jenny Block also attended the show last week, and she has nice things to say (read on). But I spent the entire performance explaining to my companion what was going on because he had never seen it. I was only able to follow it because I already knew the story. And there were moments of greatness, which usually involved little or no orchestra to interfere with the voice of whoever was singing. But people here go crazy for these shows, anyway, whooping and applauding after every scene. All I want to do is ask: do you have any idea what they just said? Because I find it impossible to believe they did.

Les Mis was a wonderful production. There were the sound issues that the Music Hall always presents, making some of the lyrics, especially during the full company numbers, impossible to discern. And I wasn’t crazy about Fantine or Cosette, particularly when the latter was “hitting” the high notes. But I loved Eponine and Jean Valjean. What incredible voices.

The set was interesting enough, especially considering the touring and spatial limitations. I had seen the moving barricade and revolving stage before and was happy to see their successful use here. The only thing that seemed odd was the wedding against the black, slum-like backdrop. I get the metaphor, happy stuff in the midst of revolution and all that. But it just looked strange.

It was the sixth time I had seen the show, including once on Broadway. I didn’t cry as much as I did during previous productions I had seen. But I think that was more about my newly acquired (and torturous) Texas allergies than about the show.

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