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Theater Review: ‘Les Misérables’ isn’t as miserable of a story as I’ve heard – A first-time viewer review

by Quinn Roseboom

As someone who has never seen any version of “Les Misérables” before this production, I had a very different understanding of what the show was about.

Les Misérables
Photo by Matthew Murphy

I know I’m in the minority of theater fanatics that haven’t seen “Les Mis,” but even so, I had always heard it was a slower and extremely sad tale. The only details I knew of going in were that it was set in France, and at some point, a girl would be cutting her hair off. (Which it turns out happens pretty close to the beginning of the show.)

I was pleasantly surprised that the ending wasn’t as sad as I was expecting after all the hype, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still a bit depressing. I did get confused at times as the story jumps forward in time a few times with no indication that time has passed, and occasionally I couldn’t understand the words, as the actors were singing at a pretty quick pace.

To sum up the complicated plot in a few sentences: The show follows a freed convict throughout his life. After encountering a kind bishop who gives him the gift of his freedom after attempting to steal from him, he decides to run from his parole and better himself as a new man. Years later, he is wealthy and adopts a young girl from a woman who used to work for him – who is, let’s say, extremely down on her luck. After growing up, the young girl falls in love with a boy who is part of a group planning a huge resistance against the government at the time. The second act follows through with this resistance fighting the government.

To my understanding, this production is a revision of the original musical, and is, of course, very different from the film version. The set is not on a turntable as I’d heard it used to be, but it was still a very practical set with many of the locations being physically represented in detail as opposed to many shows that leave more to the imagination. The costuming is beautifully done, and the talent is phenomenal. The cast delivered beautiful, (albeit occasionally under-annunciated) performances of the music, which there is plenty of since this is a musical with little to no speaking outside of song.

“Les Misérables” is performing from now through October 27th at the Dr. Phillips Center in downtown Orlando, and you can find the rest of the tour locations and dates at LesMis.com. If you’re local to Orlando, you can find tickets to the performances at the Dr. Phillips Center here.

The show’s content is pretty adult and contains sexual situations and violence, so leave the kids with a sitter for this one.

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