This Week on Stage: The return of 'Les Miserables'

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Image Credit: Matthew Murphy

As you can tell from above, Prisoner 24601 still has the physical prowess to make us swoon (much like Hugh Jackman’s Oscar-nominated turn as Jean Valjean in the 2012 film), but Iranian/Canadian star Ramin Karimloo’s long-awaited Broadway debut as Valjean proved to be worth the wait. Coming off stellar reviews (and proving a threat to claim the Best Actor in a Musical Tony), with the revival already a smash hit, it seems that everything old is new again, as audiences cannot get enough barricades and French resistance (this time sans turntable, and all the better for it). Tyne Daly also made a welcome Main Stem return since the 2011 revival of Master Class where she was a Master Callas (Maria, that is), and EW teased new some new, starry Broadway premieres with the likes of Audra McDonald, and the much-decorated cast of The Realistic Joneses, as well as a early listen of the CD for the musical Beautiful, the Carole King opus with the uncanny and impressive Jessie Mueller. EW reviewed the aforementioned shows and a few others as we head into the nitty-gritty of the theater season, with no less than 12 Broadway openings to come in the next series of weeks (click on the links below for full reviews):

Breathing Time Stephan Lee checked out the newest play by House of Cards creator Beau Willimon, about a group of New Yorkers dealing with one fateful day. Was it unimpeachable? “There are some excellent moments in the play, says our writer, “but Breathing Time feels mostly forgettable, like an early-career script Willimon found in a drawer and dusted off…Willimon is way more fun when he’s depicting people trying to destroy each other.” EW grade: B

Jasper in Deadland The new musical by Ryan Scott Oliver and actor Hunter Foster (currently seen in The Bridges of Madison County on the Great White Way) premiered via Prospect Theater Company, and is already proving to be a worthy successor to the thrones of Larson, Kitt and Yorkey, says EW’s Marc Snetiker about the bold take on the story of Orpheus and Erydice: ” [it is] an electrifying surge of theatrical energy that has the potential to wake up New York from its deep creative sleep…the production marks the arrival of Oliver as a major new voice in musical theater.” EW grade: A-

Les Misérables  You get to hear the people sing songs of angry men once again in the second Broadway revival of the beloved epic, this time starring overseas sensation Ramin Karimloo and Hair‘s Will Swenson as the cat-and-mouse duo who made bread-theft crime famous for all. Senior editor Thom Geier is thumbs up on the show’s return, with high marks for the much-buzzed about new leading man of 45th Street: “In his solos, ‘Who Am I?’ and particularly ‘Bring Him Home,’ not only does [Karimloo] inject each phrase with feeling and musicality but he fully embodies the message of the song. There’s not a gesture, not a head bob out of place. At the end of the day, he brings the most luster to this stirring revival.” EW grade: A-

Mothers and Sons Terrence McNally’s follows up his 1988 one-act play Andre’s Mother about a mother grappling with losing a son to AIDS with a de facto sequel, this time starring the regal Tyne Daly as the titular mother, and joined by Bobby Steggert (Big Fish) and Frederick Weller (Take Me Out) as a gay couple dealing with her prejudices many years later. Melissa Rose Bernardo had some reservations about McNally’s return to this well: “The premise is a bit contrived”, but states that “it’s a pleasure to see the playwright return to form (and to Broadway) with his intimate portrait of a modern family”. EW grade: B

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