Review by: Ethan Chivari
Nominated for 12 Tony Awards, Les Mis is a captivating spectacle full of brilliant imagery, outstanding orchestrations, rousing lyrics, and a story about heroic human commitment. Based on the novel Les Misérables by French novelist Victor Hugo, the play is set in early 19th century France, where the heroic Jean Valjean, played with great conviction by Robert Wilde, is enraged due to the unjust law that cast him in penal servitude for 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread for his sister’s starving child. Valjean breaks his parole and decides to starts a new life after a bishop motivates him through a tremendous act of mercy. He is relentlessly tracked down by Javert, the police inspector. During the course of the play, Valjean and a slew of characters are swept into the French Revolution, where a group of young idealists make their final stand at a street barricade.
Les Misérables, a sung-through musical, presents audiences with a stage full of singers who, one by one, have a chance to step into the smoke-suffused glow of the spotlight and astonish us with the mighty size and range of their voices. Theatergoers at the reviewed performance cheered as the lights slowly dimmed to black and the orchestra came to life.
The grandiose set is comprised of a single half circle staircase that rotates a full 360 degrees. Above the stairway is a suspended circular walkway that enhances the size of the stage. Director Jim Corti did a fantastic job selecting the cast and focusing on every little detail from costumes to the set and everything in between. In conversation with Robert Wilde, I asked what his thought of the set was simply stated as “Amazing.” He said that when he saw the concept he wasn’t too sure how design and reality would play out, but upon seeing the finished set he was blown away. Wilde is a big fan of Aurora’s Paramount Theater and enjoys performing here, it’s a nice change of pace and the building is a one of a kind beauty.” I also talked to Lisa from Elmhurst, a veteran theater goer, seated next to me and asked her what she thought of the Paramount’s production. She started off by stating “I have seen Les Misérables five other times in Chicago and this is the best production. The set, the costumes, the lyrics and orchestra were all fabulous.”
This is the final production of the Paramount’s 2014-2015 season. The play is rated PG and has a runtime of 2 hours and 45 minutes with one 20 minute intermission. Les Mis runs now through April 26th and I highly suggest seeing it before it’s over. I give the Paramount Theater’s production of Les Misérables 4 stars for having a wonderful cast, outstanding music, amazing sets, and an admission price that can’t be beat. Tickets range from $41-$54.
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