It’s not that I forgot about my one year anniversary with my boyfriend– more I just got overly excited about the prospect of seeing Les Misérables live. I love my concerts, I truly do but it’s so nice to mix it up every once in a while and I definitely have a soft spot for musicals. The past few that I’ve been to have been great but they haven’t been “classics” so I was stoked and blindly asked to review it. That’s when my boyfriend asked what I wanted to do for our one year anniversary. Quick with the draw, I instantly invited him to Les Misérables but he was even quicker when he responded “You forgot and signed up to cover it, didn’t you?”. Long story short, we spent our anniversary seeing Les Misérables at the gorgeous Orpheum Theatre in downtown Minneapolis and, honestly, it was the best anniversary ever.
I had honestly never seen Les Misérables prior to Thursday night. On top of that, I knew very little about the storyline or songs that come with it. That didn’t change the fact that I was excited to experience whatever the performance would bring. As soon as the lights went down and after the obligatory “no phone” announcement, I was transported back to the 1800s and found myself stuck there for nearly three hours of complete bliss.
Writing about musicals is always strange for me. I like to write about the atmosphere at shows but, at a musical, the atmosphere is pretty stale. That’s not a bad thing by any means but it just leaves me nothing to write about there. Beyond that, writing about the plot of a musical also seems strange to me just because, if you know the musical, you already know the plot and, if you don’t, you can easily watch a trailer online or something. That leaves me with just writing about how I felt about the performance overall so let’s get in to it.
All of the performers were great and I obviously don’t have time to mention all of them by name but I did want to point out a few. Christine Heesun Hwang played Éponine and to say that her vocals were absolutely stunning would be an understatement. At one point, a gentleman down the row in front of me literally stood up from his seat after a small aria that she performed and screamed “Bravo!” at the top of his lungs. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel the urge to join him but there was still more of the song left so I refrained. That being said, it truly did deserve a bravo among many other moments throughout the performance.
Another stand-out performance to me was from Matt Crowle who played Thénardier and Christina Rose Hall who played Madame Thénardier. The comedic relief in an otherwise super serious and dark musical, Hall and Crowle had such a magic chemistry between them which enhanced the magic of their fairly small but important parts. I found myself constantly looking for them on stage even when they weren’t there just because I found both of their performances to be so full of life and heart.
Again, Everyone who was on stage throughout the performance was absolutely flawless and stunning. Obviously seeing the young kids who performed as the young versions of some of the main characters was damn near the cutest thing I’ve ever seen and there were many times during solos where I would feel chills creep up my arms and back but I just can’t sit here and tell you about all of them because that would ruin everything and nobody has time for that.
Les Misérables is dark in both the storyline and the overall feel which includes the set design. Even though it was dark and a little drab, I thought that what they did with the set was absolutely brilliant. It was understated and never really changed that drastically outside of just a few parts yet I could feel myself in a different scene every time they would slightly shift something. Although the props weren’t super prevalent and it was almost kind of barebones, the performers’ ways of interacting with each other and the set that was there made every single movement and every single word super convincing.
It was so convincing that I ended up having a Les Misérables-based dream Thursday night as I slept after the show. The dream was terrifying and was one of those dreams when you are just relieved to wake up and realize that it was just that… a dream. Why am I telling you about my dream? Well, it just goes to prove how immersive this performance was. Even though it wasn’t meant to be immersive, it was so well done and thoughtfully created that it didn’t just take over my life for the time that I was in the theatre, but continued to consume my mind for hours after.
The Orpheum Theatre will stay the home for Les Misérables for just about one more week and I highly suggest you make an effort to get out and see it. It was truly a perfect way to spend a Thursday night (and an anniversary).
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