My family and I enjoyed the opening night of Les Misérables at the Paramount Theater of Burlington from The Gallery Players, Inc. If you live in the Triangle, I encourage you to go. The depth of the casting is terrific. Typically in a local production, there are some bright stars with a few supporting roles who barely hang on. In this production, the whole cast was strong. The production was well directed, choreographed and sung. The orchestra did a nice job; it was great to have live music for the performers.
While the whole cast did well, I would be remiss in not giving some particular “shout outs” to Josie Bodle as Éponine, Bryan O’Kelley Cox as Marius, Ms. Bodle has an amazing voice and portrayed Éponine with clarity and nuance. Mr. Cox brought great emotional intensity to the role which culminated in a touching “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables.” Willie Fisher, in the role of Jean Valjean, provided a stunning rendition of “Bring Him Home”.
One telling sign of the production was brought home to me by my 14 year old son Thomas. While I, to my shame, was nitpicking about some small improvements that could be made to the production during intermission, Thomas turns to me and says “Seriously? Remember this is the first time I’ve ever seen Les Mis. This is great!” I had forgotten he didn’t go to the movie version with us (I had also seen it at The Shubert in Boston way back 1990). So, he brought me up short. Drop the nitpick; this was a flat-out fabulous production.
Now, you may ask, why bother? We can see cream-of-the-crop world class talent in the movie. Why drive over an hour to see a local production? Well, to start, there is a connection that you have with live actors. The rapport built between performers and audience, when done well, is amazing. You cannot do this with movies. I also believe that you are immersed more deeply in live theater due to that connection. Also there’s the whole part about being live and real – no special effects, no voice overs and no edits. It is live, real-time.
So, again, if you’re in the area, see it. If you can’t make this performance, stay tuned for next season which will include Annie Get You Gun, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Jesus Christ Superstar and Disney’s Tarzan. Finally, if you don’t live in the area, go check out your local theater, you might just be surprised.