"Les Miserables," aka "Les Miz," continues through Sunday, June 3. Photo by Matthew Murphy
With its melding of history, spectacle, melodrama and romance, Les Miserables the musical has been such a hit for so long that it may be the only Broadway show popularly referred to by a nickname: Les Miz.
Any doubt about whether this rousing show based on Victor Hugo’s novel still has legs can be heard at the Civic Theatre downtown, where Broadway San Diego is presenting Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg’s Les Miserables through Sunday, June 3. That sound you’ll hear is not only the emotional peaks and valleys of this formidable musical’s score, but the cheers from audience members seeing Les Miz for the third or fourth time, or more. An operatic, sung-through show that dispenses the tale’s weighty exposition in dribs and drabs, Les Miz nonetheless boasts its iconic tunes: “I Dreamed a Dream,” “On My Own,” “Bring Him Home” and, of course, “Master of the House.”
This touring production enjoys a superb Jean Valjean, the saintly character whose saga began with the theft of a loaf of bread, in Steve Czarnecki. (He performed May 29 and 30 and returns June 3; Andrew Maughan assumes the role May 31 and June 1-2.) Czarnecki can sound sweet, despairing and plaintive all at once. Josh Davis bellows a bit as Jean Valjean’s antagonist, Inspector Javert, though he possesses all the ferocity the part requires.
As is customary with BSD presentations, the sets are sumptuous and the special effects atmospheric. The acoustics in the old Civic aren’t the greatest but they’re far from miserable. Les Miz is a show that can’t help but triumph.
Les Miserables continues through June 3
David L. Coddon is theater critic for San Diego CityBeat