The French Revolution takes the stage at Hobby Center in downtown Houston with “Les Misérables.”
I can’t give any spoilers. Most of us read Victor Hugo’s classic novel or the play in high school or have seen the 2012 movie with Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway. There isn’t much more to be said about the story of “Les Misérables.” It’s a take of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice, redemption and the human spirit set against the backdrop of 19th-century France.
However, there is something special about seeing these characters alive on stage. Being in the same room as Fantine (Mary Kate Moore) when she sings “I Dreamed a Dream” or Éponine (Paige Smallwood) when sings about her love for Marius in “On My Own” is incredible. It’s even more heartbreaking to watch a beloved character “die” when you’re in the same room as them.
The collective experience is also what makes seeing “Les Misérables” live so different. By the end of the show, I was reduced to tears along with many other strangers at Theatre Under the Stars. We can all connect to the larger than life characters, the heart melting acts of love and kindness, feel the pain of hardship and mourn loss in life.
How “Les Misérables” is able to connect us with our fellow man is why he 156-year-old novel is still required reading for teenagers, why it’s been made into a movie twice, and why it is remains the fifth longest-running Broadway production of all time. This show is Cameron Mackintosh’s acclaimed production of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s Tony Award-winning musical that’s touring the country fresh off a two-and-a-half-year return on Broadway in New York City.
Thanks to this show, my new favorite Les Miz song is “On My Own,” Éponine ballad of heartache over being caught in a love triangle after being by Marius’ side much longer than just love at first sight.
As far as the production stage setting, I was impressed with how the show used projections onto the scrim screen to bring so many dream like and eerie scenes to life on one stage.
“Les Misérables” is showing at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Houston through September 30. Tickets start at $35.