Les Misérables (aka Les Mis or Les Miz) is a renowned musical based on the 1862 novel of the same name by French author Victor Hugo. The story follows the life of Jean Valjean, an ex-convict who seeks redemption after serving a lengthy prison sentence for stealing a loaf of bread. And, whether you’ve seen it hundreds of times, several times or never, the current production in Toronto at the Princess of Wales Theatre is a definite must-see!

Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, the powerful storytelling intertwines the lives of various characters, including the devoted police inspector Javert, the tragic Fantine, and the idealistic revolutionary Marius, as they navigate themes of justice, love, sacrifice, and the pursuit of freedom.

The musical adaptation of “Les Misérables” by French composer Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil, premiered in Paris in 1980 as a French-language production. The English-language version with lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer, debuted in London’s West End in 1985, and brought international acclaim. Today, the emotional and moving musical continues to prove why it’s cemented as one of the favourites of all time.

Les Mis US Tour - Mirvish   - Toronto
Nick Cartell as Jean Valjean in Les Misérables. Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy & Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade.

Why do we keep returning to experience Les Misérables?

I’ve been fortunate to see Les Mis four times and this current run counts as my fifth. Each time, I’ve held my breath in awe of the performers and this production (North American touring company) excels at every note, turn, and movement. While the voices in past productions have been big draws, this one is a complete powerhouse in every way.

The music is unforgettable. Claude-Michel Schönberg’s score, with iconic songs such as “I Dreamed a Dream,” “On My Own,” and “One Day More,” is stunning and emotionally stirring. The music heightens the impact of the storyline in a collective and balanced effort.

Jean Valjean, played by Nick Cartell, has an incredible range that is breathtaking. When he performed the solo “Bring Him Home”, I literally held my breath as my eyes filled with tears. I could literally hear gasps and “Oh my God” all around me.

Also stunning was Fantine, played by Haley Dortch, and her heartbreaking performance of “I Dreamed a Dream” which offers insight into her story. Once happy, she wonders what happened to her life and how alone and miserable she felt.

Inspector Javert, played by Preston Truman Boyd, who made it a life-long mission to track down Valjean, delivers a powerful performance and keeps his energy consistent throughout the production. And the entire cast performing the songs like “One Day More” are so polished it’s amazing. And yes, the little ones stole our hearts…repeatedly.

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

Worldwide Critical Acclaim:

Les Mis explores timeless themes such as the struggle for justice, the power of compassion, and the quest for personal redemption. These universal themes resonate with audiences worldwide, contributing to the musical’s enduring popularity.

Since its premiere, “Les Misérables” has received widespread critical acclaim and numerous awards, including multiple Tony Awards and Laurence Olivier Awards.

Following its success in London’s West End, “Les Misérables” has been staged in numerous countries around the world, translated into multiple languages, and continues to attract audiences on Broadway, in the West End, and in touring productions including this one.

Directors, Laurence Connor and James Powell have envisioned an elaborate and innovative set design for this production of Les Mis. This visually stunning theatrical experience is grand with sets that are so detailed it’s mind-boggling. They’ve also managed to captivate the audience with projections that not only enhance but immerse the audience into the storytelling.

Overall, the combination of a compelling story, memorable music, universal themes, and stunning production design has contributed to the continued popularity of Les Misérables. Don’t let the almost three-hour long duration (with one intermission) deter you! It’s well-paced and well-balanced with many highly entertaining moments alongside the expected sweeping drama. This production has done a great job in freshening up one of the most beloved and successful musicals in theatre history. I loved it so much I’m planning to see this one again before it leaves our city.

Les Misérables is now on stage at the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto until June 1, 2024. Tickets and more information are available at Mirvish.com

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