Everything new is old in 25th anniversary of ‘Les Miz’ 

click to enlarge In the spotlight: Briana Carlson-Goodman plays Eponine in the new “Les Misérables” at the Orpheum Theatre. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • In the spotlight: Briana Carlson-Goodman plays Eponine in the new “Les Misérables” at the Orpheum Theatre.

Longtime fans of “Les Misérables” won’t likely be disappointed by the new, 25th anniversary edition of the show onstage at the Orpheum Theatre in a SHN presentation.

Producer Cameron Mackintosh’s pop opera that stormed London and Broadway decades ago still boasts Claude-Michel Schönberg and Herbert Kretzmer’s melodic (if not hit-making) score, and epic story based on Victor Hugo’s massive classic novel (original French text by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel).

Conducted by Kevin Stites, the orchestra loudly supports a cast of uniformly fine singers warbling with gusto in the lead roles: Andrew Varela as police inspector Javert, Peter Lockyer as his nemesis and hero Jean Valjean, and Timothy Gulan and Shawna M. Hamic as the evil innkeepers Thenardiers.

Rounding out the vocal talent are Betsy Morgan as Fantine, Lauren Wiley as her daughter Cosette, Max Quinlan as Cosette’s sweetheart, the rebel Marius, and the extra-dramatic Briana Carlson-Goodman as Eponine, the  victim of Marius’ unrequited love.

What’s missing from this new, smaller “Les Miz” is the original show’s nifty, even iconic, revolving set, which served as a nice metaphor for the story’s historical and human themes. Backdrops and projections based on Victor Hugo paintings in this set (designed by Matt Kinley) don’t have the same impact as that fun turntable did.

Directed by Laurence Connor and James Powell, this anniversary production’s staging doesn’t necessarily move the drama forward, and sometimes confuses matters for those unfamiliar with the story, particularly during climactic scenes at the barricade.

If there are any, newcomers to “Les Miz” may not quite understand what the fuss has been about for a quarter century. Nonetheless, the blockbuster’s followers will continue to appreciate the melodies, sentiment and unversal appeal of big numbers the likes of “I Dreamed a Dream” and “One Day More.”

Les Misérables
Presented by SHN
Where: Orpheum Theatre, 1192 Market St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays-Fridays,  2 and 8 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays; closes Aug. 26
Tickets:  $31 to $150
Contact: (888) 746-1799, www.shnsf.com

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Leslie Katz

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