Haley Dortch as Fantine in Les Misérables. Photo: Matthew Murphy & Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

REVIEW — Les Misérables in Sacramento

By Michael P Coleman

You’ll be anything but miserable if you can grab a ticket to see Les Misérables, playing through Sunday, October 29 at SAFE Credit Union Performing Arts Center in Sacramento.

The New York Times has called the show “Thrilling, spectacular and unforgettable.” They’re spot on.

I’d not seen any production of the Tony Award-winning musical, and other than “I Dreamed A Dream,” I wasn’t aware of any of its gorgeous songs. Well, so I thought, before Nick Cartell, as Jean Valjean, prompted tears with his “Bring Him Home,” midway through the show’s second act, and reminded me of a version by Josh Groban that I’d heard somewhere along the way. Frankly, Cartell outsings Groban. His multi-octave voice is a wonder.

Nick Cartell as Jean Valjean in Les Misérables. Photo: Matthew Murphy & Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

Haley Dortch, as Fantine, also blew me away. Her “I Dreamed A Dream,” which I’d always heard out of context, also had me wiping away tears, and I’m not just saying that because she’s a Michigan alumna! (GO BLUE!)

When Dortch and Cartell come together on “Come To Me,” it’s almost too powerful to take! They are scorching stages all over the country, with Dortch making her national tour debut as Fantine, and delivering emotional punches that could more than carry this production

…if they had to. She and Cartell have a lot of help. This Les Misérables is one of thebest acted and sung production, overall, that I’ve ever seen. The entire company is, quite simply, brilliant.

The uplifting story’s set in 19th century France, and documents the human spirit’s ability to triumph in the face of potentially crippling adversity. Bring a couple of tissues, but if you’re not familiar with the story, be prepared to be surprised by several funny numbers throughout the show, including “Lovely Ladies” and “Master Of The House,” the latter of which is hysterically led by Matt Crowle as Thénardier.

Those and other comedic elements lend a little very-much-needed levity to a show that can be a little heavy at times, but you’ll leave (spoiler alert) uplifted. I left the SAFE Credit Union Performing Arts Center wondering when I’ll get to see Les Misérables again. And again.

With everything we’ve been through in the last eight or so years, it’s a show that’s worth seeing, and one that will stick with you for awhile.

“One More Day” from Les Misérables. Photo: Matthew Murphy & Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade


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