Touring ‘Les Mis’ features spectacular vocal performances

March 16, 2018
Les Miserables onstage

“Les Misérables” – Courtesy of Matthew Murphy. Used by permission.

I have lost count of the number of times I have seen the enduring musical “Les Misérables.” starting with the original Broadway production in 1987, and most recently, a superb 2014 Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre production. But hands down, Cameron Macintosh’s imposing North American Tour production of Alain Boubil and Claude-Michael Schönberg’s ‘s Tony Award-winning masterpiece was the best of all. The show  presented by Broadway in Indianapolis, runs through Sunday, March 18 at the Old National Centre‘s Murat Theatre. I attended Tuesday’s opening night, sold out performance.

Based on the novel by Victor Hugo, ‘“Les Misérables” chronicles the travails of prisoner-on-parole, 24601, Jean Valjean, as he flees from the obsessed Inspector Javert on a journey beyond the barricades, at the center of the 1832 Paris Uprising. Meanwhile, the life of a working class girl with a child is at a turning point as she succumbs to prostitution to pay money to a blackhearted innkeeper and his equally evil wife who look after her child, Cosette. Valjean pledges to take care of the child, who, as an adult becomes involved in a love triangle between herself Marius, a student rebel and Eponine, a girl of the streets. Also focal to the story are the sacrifices made by angry citizens and students, led by Enjolras, who fight, to the death, upon the barricades.

Nick Cartell onstage

Nick Cartell – Courtesy of Matthew Murphy. Used by permission.

What made this “Les Mis”so special? First of all, the performers vocals were absolutely spectacular, especially those of Josh Davis (Javert) in “Stars,” Nick Cartell (Valjean) in “Bring Him Home,” Talia Simone Robinson (Eponine) “On My Own,” Matt Shingledecker (Enjolras) in “Do You Hear The People Sing,” Robert Ariza (Marius) in “Empty Chairs at Emply Tables,” and Jillian Butler (Cosette) in “Castle On A Cloud.” I was absolutely transfixed by their interpretations of these Boubil & s Schönberg songs, many of which have become iconic.

Enhancing the magnificent singing of the leads and the company as a whole, was Mick Potter’s impeccable sound design. Contributing to the transfixing quality of the production were Paule Constable’s lighting design and Matt Kindley’s resplendent set and image design, inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo. Adding to the show’s arresting visual appeal were Andreane Neofitou and Christine Rowlands’s costumes designs.

Directed by Lawrence Connor and James Powell, with musical staging by Michael Ashcroft and Geoffrey Garatte, the show which clocks in at two hours and 50 minutes, has a long first act but overall, the show’s swift pace and the dynamic energy of the cast kept me thoroughly engaged.

With its themes of broken dreams, unrequited love and redemption, the story of “Les Miserables” is a testament to the survival of the human spirit. No matter how times you may have seen this musical or if have never seen it at all, you will come away feeling dazzled by the onslaught of visual and auditory stimulation and spectacle and certainly inspired by a tale that is timeless.

“Les Misérables,” at the Old National Centre plays through Friday & Saturday evenings at 8 pm, Saturday matinee at 2 pm, Sunday matinee at 1 pm, and Sunday evening at 6:30 pm. Tickets are available in person at the Old National Centre Ticket Office, online at, or by phone at 1-(800) 982-2787.

photo: Josh Humble

About Tom

Journalist, producer, director, Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, arts administrator, TV contributor, actor, model, writer and lyricist, Tom Alvarez has had an extensive career in media and the fine arts and continues to be an enthusiastic and devoted fan of both. His passion and unique background grant him insight, access and perspective to cover, promote and review the arts in Indianapolis, Central Indiana and beyond. Follow him on social media @tomalvarezartswriter and @tomalvarez1.

Alvarez has been writing about theatre, dance, music, cinema and visual arts for 40 years. His work has appeared in the Indianapolis Star, NUVO, Indianapolis Monthly, Arts Indiana, Unite Magazine, Dance Magazine, NOTE Magazine, and, among many other print and online platforms. A former contributor to Across Indiana on WFYI-TV, he currently has a regular performing arts segment on WISH-TV’s Life. Style. Live!

A principal of Klein & Alvarez Productions, LLC, Alvarez co-created “Calder, The Musical” and is the managing director of Magic Thread Cabaret. As an actor-model, he has appeared in numerous TV and print ads and is represented by the Helen Wells Agency and Heyman Talent Artists Agency.

On the Aisle Team

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  1. Robert Armstrong said...

    Kudos to Tom Alvarez for his unmatched support for Indianapolis arts.

    March 16, 2018 at 5:48 pm | link to this reply to this
  2. Ann Ohl said...

    This is awesome! Love your stories & reviews.

    March 16, 2018 at 7:01 pm | link to this reply to this
  3. Shirley Faith Souder said...

    As always, complete, elegant and flawless. Love it.

    March 17, 2018 at 8:04 am | link to this reply to this
  4. Lori Fetter said...

    Love what you all are doing and accomplishing. Keep up the wonderful work.

    March 19, 2018 at 3:08 pm | link to this reply to this
  5. Ellie Sellars said...

    Outstanding, as always!

    March 31, 2018 at 9:28 am | link to this reply to this

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