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The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

Les Misérables Brings Broadway Magic to Seattle

Les Misérables Brings Broadway Magic to Seattle
Matthew Murphy & Evan Zimmerman

The Broadway touring cast at The 5th Avenue Theatre produces an emotional and astounding performance of “Les Miserables.”

“Les Miserables” is based on a novel with the same name written by Victor Hugo, which follows the lives of several struggling characters throughout the French Revolution. The plot focuses on Jean Valjean, an ex-convict who escapes on parole and dedicates his life to becoming a better man. While attempting to redeem himself after spending 19 years as a prisoner of the law, Valjean cares for the child of a woman whom he feels he has wronged, and raises her to adulthood. The play follows each character in Valjean’s life through hardship and grief as they learn to love in the midst of an uprising.

Nick Cartell does an extraordinary job as Valjean, hitting every note and emotional beat effortlessly. Cartell’s interpretation of “Bring Him Home” is the most moving and remarkable scene within the play; the impressive high falsetto notes pair beautifully with his emotional performance. Cartell conveys the fatherly role very well and ages realistically over the course of the show.

Cartell is not the only actor that stuns the audience with their voice; both Christine Heesun Hwang’s Eponine and Haley Dortch’s Fantine capture the audience with their strong and impressive ballads.

It is important to note that “Les Miserables” is two and a half hours long, but every moment is packed with an abundance of emotion. The first act moves quickly, introducing the ensemble of characters and their backstories in the intense opening “Look Down.”

From there, the musical remains grand in every aspect: the multi-level sets are fully utilized, the famous barricade lives up to its expectations and the powerful voices of the performers leave audiences’ jaws dropped.

While “Les Miserables” is a tragedy, there is a humorous aspect to the play as all of the villains are portrayed so comically that they are slightly preferable to the grieving protagonists. Preston Truman Boyd does an incredible job of making his character Javert so insufferable throughout the show that I found his scenes of distress hilarious. His inability to move on from events that took place 20 years in the past and his consistent aspirations of upholding the law are immensely amusing.

“One Day More” is the most exciting musical number, illustrating how each of the characters fights for freedom in their own way. The song is a vocally intense musical montage reminding audiences of each character’s individual struggles through musical motifs introduced earlier in the show. “Les Miserables” evokes a variety of feelings as it questions the true meaning of justice, how to rectify one’s wrongdoings and what it means to truly love someone.

“Les Miserables” features everything I look for in a musical. If you are looking for a spectacle that conveys the nuances of love, despair and excitement, it is nothing short of perfect.

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About the Contributor
Julia Weisfield
Julia Weisfield, A&E Editor
Julia Weisfield (she/her) is a sophomore at MIHS and is the Arts and Entertainment Editor. Outside of school hours, she enjoys reading, skiing and traveling to new places. Julia is a 2nd year member of the MIHS Drill team and the MIHS Islander.

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