Opening Nights: Les Misérables

Les Misérables

Village Theatre, 303 Front St. N. (Issaquah), 425-392-2202, $33–$68. runs Tues.–Sun through Jan. 5, then at Everett Performing Arts Center, Jan. 10–Feb. 2.

There are very few famous reviews in the annals of journalism. One is the 1978 Rolling Stone capsule rave for Bruce Springsteen’s Darkness on the Edge of Town. It read simply: “Springsteen aims for moon and stars, hits moon and stars.” I could say the same of this miraculous chamber production of Les Misérables. Director Steve Tomkins and company have created what has to be the best-ever pocket-size rendering of the 1985 smash musical; you’re not likely to see it done this well—or so intimately—ever again.

As in Victor Hugo’s 1862 class-struggle novel of revenge, retribution, and redemption, French parolee Jean Valjean (onetime Seattleite Greg Stone, now a Broadway mainstay) is pursued by inspector Javert (Eric Polani Jensen) while seeking to regain the good name he lost after stealing bread to feed a starving child. Also assisting Valjean’s salvation are Fantine (Beth DeVries), who tasks Valjean on her deathbed to care for her daughter, Cosette (Alexandra Zorn); would-be revolutionaries Enjolras (Steve Czarnecki) and Marius (Matthew Kacergis), who falls for the adult Cosette at first sight; and a riotous pair of comic foils who seek to undo Valjean at every turn, the treacherous Thénardiers (Kate Jaeger and Nick DeSantis). For once, the crucial child roles aren’t cutesy moppets, but fully realized, three-dimensional characters: Victoria Ames Smith as the young Cosette and Josh Feinsilber as the street urchin Gavroche.

To complement his sure-footed cast, Tomkins has a brilliant musical general in the pit, R.J. Tancioco, who captures every nuance of Claude-Michel Schönberg’s score. Scott Fyfe’s sets come in a dizzying array—sometimes minimalist marvels, other times dense with detail. The redoubtable Tom Sturge lights them in rich patinas ranging from umber to somber browns and shadow-gathering violets. Add to all that Cynthia Savage’s costumes—from prison rags to gaudy prostitute regalia to upper-crust finery—and you have a singular achievement in regional theater.

Not a loose stitch has been left to chance in the three-hour staging (with intermission). This little Les Miz aspires to be as great as any production of the show ever mounted, and it’s better than any I’ve ever seen, ever.

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