Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Laughing? Not so much.

Okay, I'll admit that every show I review isn't a bundle of laughs. Like last night's production of
Les Miserables at DeVos Performance Hall. I might have chuckled a few times over an impudent little boy or the outrageous Thenardier, picking pockets while he sang "Master of the House," or his wife chopping sausage with gusto. But on the whole, Les Miserables isn't funny. It's better than funny. I cried when Jean Valjean sang "Bring Him Home." As he began his prayer, my eyes welled up in anticipation of that beautiful ballad, a tribute to all those gutsy young men and women everywhere willing to die for what they believe. And when Valjean asks "Who Am I?" everyone in the audience is challenged to question their own identity. Are you proud of who you are, what you've done, the choices that you've made? When theater can do that,it doesn't have to make you laugh. It has touched you, transformed you.
       The 25th Anniversary tour hasn't really changed that much, although it does make use of video technology and space-carving shafts of light. They must be doing something right. Opening night was practically sold out, and the remaining shows are almost full as well. All that leads to a lot of arrogance on the tour's part. They wouldn't allow photographers at last night's show, haven't allowed any photos on the entire tour, which means the available pictures online are pretty scant. Preserving a brand? Perhaps. But as other Broadway tours have realized, you can't get enough pictures on the net. Let everyone post them on their blogs and facebook. Show it off. What are you afraid of?

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