When I saw the original Broadway productions of “Cats,” “Les Miserables” and “The Phantom of the Opera” back in the 1980s, I remember trying to envision how regional theaters would ever be able to mount convincing productions of these mega-musicals.
Well, that day has arrived. Lyric Theatre is the first Oklahoma company to produce “Les Miserables,” a monumental undertaking that has much to recommend it. On the debit side of the ledger, however, are aspects that still need attention.
With a cast of 109 actors and singers, “Les Miserables” ranks among the largest productions ever mounted on the Lyric stage. And when those voices unite to convey Claude-Michel Schonberg’s music, the effects are quite thrilling.
“Les Mis” is vocally dense, so it’s imperative that audience members understand what’s being sung in order to grasp the intricacies of the plot. But all too often, the cast’s efforts are undermined by Andrew Bryan’s too powerful orchestral forces.
Michael Baron’s staging of this story about love and redemption is well-paced but doesn’t always manage to circumvent the narrative’s occasional moments of stasis. More than a few scenes had a studied look about them, but I’d like to think that was due to opening-night jitters.
Hallie Hunt, as young Cosette, offered a touching version of “Castle on a Cloud,” while Michael James’ Gavroche delivered a comically precocious rendition of “Little People” that earned him a well-deserved ovation.
As Eponine, Adrienne Tang was vocally adept, but her movements often looked too contemporary. Sarah Quinn’s earnest Cosette, in contrast, would have benefited from a more relaxed approach. Victoria Huston-Elem offered a heartfelt portrayal as Fantine, her lovely voice yielding ample emotional variety in “I Dreamed a Dream.”
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Lyric Theatre’s ‘Les Miserables’