Theatre Review: Les Miserables at the Hollywood Pantages

Garon CockrellTheatre, Theatre ReviewLeave a Comment

“One Day More” from Les Misérables; Matthew Murphy & Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

Les Misérables
Los Angeles – Hollywood Pantages Theatre
Now through September 10, 2023

September 19 – October 1, 2023
Cameron Mackintosh presents the acclaimed production of Boublil and Schönberg’s Tony Award- winning musical phenomenon, LES MISÉRABLES This brilliant staging has taken the world by storm and has been hailed as “a reborn dream of a production” (Daily Telegraph). Set against the backdrop of 19th century France, LES MISÉRABLES tells an enthralling story of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption–a timeless testament to the survival of the human spirit. The magnificent score of LES MISÉRABLES includes the songs “I Dreamed a Dream,” “On My Own,” “Bring Him Home,” “One Day More” and many more.

(from L) Gregory Lee Rodriguez as Marius, Christine Heesun Hwang as Éponine, Nick Cartell as Jean Valjean, Addie Morales as Cosette in Les Misérables; Matthew Murphy & Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

I’ve not been a lifelong fan of musicals. In fact, for most of my life I wouldn’t even give a thought to seeing one, let alone in person. Probably because of some internalized homophobia or fear of being “found out” if I even gave a hint of being interested in them. It really wasn’t until my late twenties that I even entertained the idea of seeing one.
Here we are, some twenty years after my eyes were finally opened when I saw Ragtime, and I see every musical I can. One over the years has eluded me. It’s been here a couple times, maybe more that I didn’t even know about, but for whatever reason I was never able to see it. Until now. So, it was with great excitement and joy that I was finally seeing Les Misérables for the first time in person, having only seen the recent film version.

“Red and Black” – Devin Archer as Enjolras and company in Les Misérables; Matthew Murphy & Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

I’m gonna save you some time and flat out tell you that this might just be my favorite experience at a musical. It was an absolute masterpiece of theater. The entire cast is absolutely impeccable; a diverse, talented, incredible company that brings this wonderful show to life.
I would be remiss if I did not highlight the three cast-members that blew me away. They each brought tears to my eyes and truly brought this show to another level: Gregory Lee Rodriguez as Marius, Christine Heesun Hwang as Éponine, & Nick Cartell as Jean Valjean. I felt every bit of these three performances and will truly cherish that I was able to experience them.
Nick Cartell, for me, delivered one of the best performances I’ve ever seen. His voice is unbelievable. My friend and I literally grabbed each other and whispered “holy shit” after “Bring Him Home.” It was a moment I’m unlikely to forget.
Rodriguez and Hwang both bring such a humanity to their characters and both of them stole my heart for sure. Hwang’s Eponine in particular had my heart in tatters by the end.  I was truly truly moved and the strength of this cast most assuredly is responsible for catapulting this show to the top of my favorites.
The show has a cool multimedia aspect at times, and I don’t know if I can remember a time the title of the show was actually displayed on the set as part of the show in an almost cinematic way. The set it self was expertly designed and looked great on stage. I was surprised by how dark and dreary some parts appeared. It really felt like we were transported back to the France of the 1800s.
I know this is a lot of positive and not a lot of criticism but honestly, I don’t have a bad thing to say (aside from some poorly behaved audience members but hey, it’s LA.). I truly adored the show and every minute of it. It was exhilarating and heartbreaking and a true testament to the art and the craft of a tremendous cast and crew.
Do yourself a favor and rush to see this show. It’s here in town util September 10 before it heads down to Orange County for a run through October 1!
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Garon CockrellTheatre Review: Les Miserables at the Hollywood Pantages