Yes you read right! Today I am here to give my first live theater review in a long time. It’s the first show I’ve been to in well over a year. Some people might think I’m crazy but I decided once the recommended time had elapsed after my vaccination I would start supporting the arts again. I know some aren’t ready for this but I’m comfortable and confident in my choices.
Of course, I am very fortunate to live in Utah where our COVID numbers are record lows and we have 44% of eligible Utahns have received at least one dose of the vaccine. I have received both doses. At Hale Centre Theatre they are enforcing mask wearing for all the audience and staff and I sat in the back row so I wouldn’t have to worry about anyone being behind me. There was some crowding that may be too much for high risk people. You will have to decide for yourself.
Anyway, let’s get into talking about the show! It was such kismet the first show I saw back from the pandemic enforced break would be Les Miserables- my favorite Broadway show. I have loved it since I was in high school. I love the message, music and story. I loved it then and still love it now. It’s honestly a hard show to do wrong in my eyes. I know a lot of people don’t like the movie but I still enjoy it despite some poor casting.
This version at Hale Center Theater did my theater-starved heart good. Kyle Olsen is a young Jean Valjean but he gets the high notes when he needs to in Bring Him Home. Preston Taylor was fantastic as Javert (Stars is the highlight it is supposed to be). Amy Shreeve Keeler crushed it as Fantine. Dreamed a Dream was a standout.
All the rest of the singing was fantastic and that’s the most important part of Les Miserables. The beautiful music and songs. They also sold the emotion and I teared up at all the right places. If I was nitpicking the Thenardiers were sometimes hard to understand and felt a little amateurish compared to the rest of the cast.
My only flaw with the show is the way they used the stage. Les Miserables is known for a rotating stage. It was part of the groundbreaking production design of the original London and Broadway production. It’s really important to have a rotating stage so you can see both sides of the barricade. With Hale Centre Theatre’s fancy theater in the round stage they could have easily had a rotating stage but they chose to keep it static and stationary for most of the show. It would add bridges or move things around but only between scenes and not during a song. This meant that entire portions of songs- even whole songs- were done to the back of a part of the audience.
I’d understand if they couldn’t have a rotating stage but they absolutely can. It was a directorial choice to keep things non-moving and I don’t think it was the right one. Certain scenes like Gavroche’s death I couldn’t see at all and just had to determine what was happening from the song and because I know the show so well.
Fortunately that’s my only real flaw with the production. Everything else was wonderful and I had a great time going back to the theater once again. I plan on going back to Hale for Daddy Long Legs next Wednesday (a favorite of mine) and then seeing Ain’t Misbehavin’ at the West Valley Center for the Arts on Thursday. I have tickets to 6 shows in the next month and I can’t wait for all of them! I will try and review all of them on this blog so I hope if theater isn’t open by you than you can live vicariously through me. 🙂
I know Les Miserables is practically sold out at Hale Centre Theatre but if you feel comfortable I recommend going and seeing it.
7 out of 10