Having seen the musical LES MIZ at least half a dozen times, I was able to follow the story in this nearly 3-hour updated version of Victor Hugo’s epic novel. My companion however was confused. Although the action is set in 1936, and there are Gershwin songs, the sensibility is clearly 1832.
There are all the familiar scenes: single-mom Fantine fired from her job; Jean Valjean vowing to find her child; the nasty Thénardiers even nastier than ever; Javert the relentless policeman-hunter; the rescue of Little Cosette; the love story of Marius and Cosette; the heartbreak of courageous Eponine, and the Student Revolt. However, when Hitler and the Nazi’s keep popping in, as if there is some mysterious parallel here, and the leader of the Resistance wears a yellow star, it becomes preposterous.
It’s an ambitious project, bravely performed by a truly fine cast: George Almond, Angel Castellanos, Sophia Lilinoe Cesario, Savannah Crafton, Eric Geller, Joe Hulser, Ian Hyde, Lonni Silverman, Ellyn Stern and Donald Wayne. However, with set changes and video clips it proceeds at a snail’s pace under Jed Alexander’s leisurely direction. If British author Jonathan Holloway is attempting to parallel the oppressive society in France in the 19th Century, with the German occupation of World War II, it doesn’t work.
Produced by Planta Genista. At Studio/Stage, 520 N. Western Ave, through July 26. Reservations: (213) 453-4901 or www.brownpapertickets.com/event/1654460
Photos by Garth Pillbury.