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Orestes Fasting

GO SEE THE PITTSBURGH PRODUCTION NOW

/capslock

I know it's six days into a twelve-day run and the tickets have been selling like hotcakes for months, but if you are at all in a position to go see the Pittsburgh CLO's production of Les Mis, DO IT. Ten minutes in my jaw was dropping and I was going "holy crap, this must be what it was like to see the show at the Imperial in the 90s." If the first time you saw the show was sometime in the past ten years, you will understand what you've been missing since they started downsizing and tinkering with it. If you saw it back in the glory days, this is probably your only chance to ever see it again as it should be.

This is not only Broadway quality, it's way truer to the show's origins than the Broadway revival or even the 3NT in its last years. Huge theater, huge stage, huge orchestra, minimal cuts (especially in the first act), traditional characterizations, a cast of Les Mis veterans (Fred Inkley, Bob Cuccioli, Jacquelyn Piro Donovan, Kevin Earley), and it's just... the way it works is so different from what they were trying to do in the Broadway revival. No 'novelty' characterizations, no weird reinterpretations. It's so completely an ensemble effort that it almost didn't matter who was good and who sucked.

The biggest criticism I have to level against it is that the second act doesn't entirely live up to the promise of the first. Especially the barricade, which I almost expected to be HUGE along the lines of the replica productions but wasn't, and it looked under-manned because they didn't pad out the barricade boys with women in drag and the actors in the Patron-Minette tracks. It would've been perfectly a perfectly good size at, say, Walnut Street or in the mini-tour that went through Wolf Trap, but after the first act I was expecting (perhaps unreasonably) for it to be at least the size of the London and Broadway ones and it wasn't. But that is seriously the only bone I have to pick with this production.

So yes. Go see it. I'll post a more detailed review later this evening but I just wanted to get this out there because the tickets are disappearing fast.
psych_out

I totally agree with you, Orestes. This was the first time I was able to see the show fully staged, and I'm not sure if I could have picked a much better production (short of time travel Very Happy ).
Quique

Ah. I often reminisce about the good ol' 90's and the Les Mis as I knew it then. I basically accepted several years ago that the show will never be what it was. Yes, folks, it has changed THAT much. The spirit and magic of the original productions have all but vanished.

I always knew that if any production were to bring that feeling back, it would be a regional one. Cameron and Co. have done nothing but degrade the show over the past decade.

I wish I could see the Pittsburgh CLO production. I last saw the show in 2006 (I don't count the revival as it was merely a shadow of what the show used to be). I need my Les Mis fix noooooooow.
Orestes Fasting

Quote:
I basically accepted several years ago that the show will never be what it was. Yes, folks, it has changed THAT much. The spirit and magic of the original productions have all but vanished.


Yes, and I understood that on an intellectual level before, but now I can feel it in my gut.

I still have a whole lot of affection for the Broadway revival, mostly because it was quirky and interesting and had a fabulous ensemble and stood up to a lot of repeat viewings. But it was missing the grandeur Les Mis ought to have. It's a show that needs to be big--not in the gimmicky, flashy-special-effects megamusical sense, but to pull it off right, you need a full orchestra and plenty of breathing room in the conducting. One of the things I absolutely hated about the musical direction for the revival was how rushed it was, how the orchestral interludes were chopped down and no one was allowed to take dramatic pauses and the conductor had to rush headlong into the next song halfway through the applause breaks. It sucked. It detracted almost as much from the show as the shitty orchestrations.

Anyway, Pittsburgh still had cuts but they ditched the most offensive ones (like the awful verse cuts in Come to Me, Castle on a Cloud, and In My Life) and restored some stuff you don't see very often (like the intro to Master of the House, and an instrumental version of the DWM reprise). The only thing I had issues with was they kept the cut to Valjean's Confession, which completely screws up the flow of that scene. But in general, they didn't seem to be rushing at all and it was really, really nice.

I promised a more detailed review, so here's a cast breakdown:

Fred Inkley (Valjean): Good. Not standout, and a little nasal, but overall a very nice traditional take on Valjean. Much better than his performance at North Shore.

Bob Cuccioli (Javert): Solid performance throughout, and vocally, one of the best Javerts I've ever seen. The end of Stars was just so freaking effortlessly huge that I could've drowned in it.

Jacquelyn Piro Donovan (Fantine): Unlike Fred Inkley she has not improved since North Shore. She still shouts, and when she's not shouting she still sounds like sharp-tongued great-aunt Gertrude trying to fake a little-girl voice. Needs to give up the Fantine schtick and go play Joanne in Company.

Ashley Spencer (Eponine): I was cracking "19th century poverty Barbie" jokes at intermission, then looked in the playbill and saw "portrayed Barbie in the national tour of Barbie Live! in Fairytopia" in her credits! Good voice, but "19th century poverty Barbie" about sums her up.

Matthew Scott (Marius): Awww, he's just as adorable as Adam Jacobs without singing through his nose or being--how can I say this nicely about Adam's Marius--a few paving stones short of a barricade.

Kate Loprest (Cosette): She was okay; I liked her and thought she was sweet, but I can see how someone viewing the show through Eppie-Bopper Goggles could fit her into the boring-and-slightly-annoying Cosette stereotype.

Kevin Earley (Enjolras): Amazing! Complete vocal powerhouse, charismatic but doesn't slip into G.I. Jolras territory, looks a bit like a curly-haired David Thaxton.

Tim Hartman (Thénardier): Bland characterization but good comic timing. Dropped a bunch of lines, the best of which was undoubtedly "Charge 'em for the lice, extra for the mice / Two percent for sleeping with the mirror twice..." Complete with look of dawning realization halfway through the line, haha.

Sally Wilfert (Mme Thénardier): Not bad, but not abrasive or intimidating enough for the role.

But like I said above, this production is so totally "Les Mis as ensemble show" that it almost doesn't matter who stands out and who's not so great. Jackie Piro was probably the weakest link of the cast, but even when she's singing you can tune her out and listen to the gorgeous, gorgeous swell of violins. Plural.
Ulkis

I saw some pictures and heard this , ahem, perfectly legally, and yeah, I was pretty impressed with the costumes. The Marius guy looked good. I agree about Piro. She sounds like she would have done better if she had stopped trying to aaaahct and just sang the role. Which is funny, because I don't remember her sucking in 2002/2003 but I could have just forgotten.

So glad they added the verse back to Come to Me!

Quote:
Huge theater, huge stage, huge orchestra, minimal cuts (especially in the first act)


I forget what people said about the Signature Theater production - did they have a full orchestra?
Chevstriss

did anyone see the Fulton production in Lancaster?
MlleTholomyès

Chevstriss wrote:
did anyone see the Fulton production in Lancaster?

I did. I remember OF saying somewhere that she did as well, but I could be mistaken. For the most part, it was epic. Most assuredly the adorable Marius, and the tight pants and hip jerks, Enjolras.
Chevstriss

I think they have one more weekend. A good friend is playing JVJ. He has done Marius alot in the past = he's aged into JVJ.

I also know Fred Inkley pretty good. Quique can tell you that story.
Orestes Fasting

Chevstriss wrote:
did anyone see the Fulton production in Lancaster?


I did, although I got an understudy Valjean so I didn't see your friend.
Chevstriss

Orestes Fasting wrote:
Chevstriss wrote:
did anyone see the Fulton production in Lancaster?


I did, although I got an understudy Valjean so I didn't see your friend.


hmmmmmm - didn't know he missed any shows - I know they did alot of double days
ilovebway

What did you think of Kate Loprest as Cosette?
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