Kennedy Center, Washington, DC
October 20, 2011
Can I start with a confession? Although I hadn’t seen it until last week, I’m really not sure Les Mis is really a great musical. When adapting an epic story to a sub-3-hour musical, a real premium is placed on economy of plot. The problem is compounded with a sung-through musical like this one; in something like Ragtime, which similarly attempts an era-defining story of epic sweep, you can at least get some plot out of the way through dialogue.
With Les Mis, I found myself wondering whether the resource of time could be allocated better. It’s a fun song, but do we really need six minutes of “Master of the House” to establish that the Thernardiers are horrible people? Nor does the song exactly create a deep character moment; I ended up thinking about Seinfeld during the song more than anything else. That said, the songwriting-as-songwriting is extraordinarily good; it’s not for nothing that “I Dreamed A Dream,” “Can You Hear the People Sing,” “One Day More,”* and–yes–“Master of the House” are considered classics of the genre.
*Although again, parody overtakes real life, as I found myself wandering to “La Resistance” as the first act drew to its conclusion.
So, more on the production after the jump, then? Continue reading