Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Lame Is

So I was going to give a summary of the production I saw of “Les Miz” at the Signature Theatre in Arlington on Saturday. Oh, how giddy I was with anticipation to see this, my favorite of all musicals. And “re-imagined” for a smaller venue – how cool is that? Now those bigger than life characters like Jean Valjean and Javert would be nearly close enough to touch.

As it turns out, I don’t have to write up anything because someone else already did. This blog post (cleverly hunted down by my lovely wife) captures that experience very well and, my friends, it was not a transformative experience overall. The staging was generally OK but there were HUGE swaths of lameness throughout.

A couple of things I would add to this write-up: I did NOT like the actor who played Javert. He practically foamed at the mouth, he was so rabid and it translated into an exaggerated and over-enunciated delivery of all of his songs. And while the staging was generally very nicely done, the moment when the barricades come together was almost comical. On Broadway, this was an impressive technical moment involving the rising up of a mammoth structure – the barricades truly “arise.” At the Signature, a mid-sized heap of trash gets moved out on stage. Ho hum.

Of course, my eldest had an enchanting time and I have to admit that I find the story so powerful, I couldn’t resist tearing up in a few spots. But in general, I was disappointed. And, just to reference back to the discussion that’s been going on about professionalism in Richmond, the real difference at the Signature was the actors, not the technology.

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