Les Misérables set off the 2011-2012 season of musicals at the 5th. It was preformed by a touring production that was celebrating it's 25th year with a set and costume and choreography redesign.
I had never seen the original so I have nothing to compare it to, but I thought the set design was beautiful and amazing and technologically up to date. I always get a little thrill when a musical can shock you with something you didn't know could be done, and this new set had a couple of wonderful moments. I know some people who dislike the movement towards digital backdrop, but I think these maintained the artistry that a handcrafted one would, while also adding a couple of extra features.
Unfortunately the thing they didn't touch (I'm assuming), the music, was disappointing to me. I of course had heard renditions of a few of their more famous songs "I Dreamed a Dream" and "On My Own", but I f kept away from the soundtrack for once and trusted the rave reviews. I do not understand why this show is so popular. Yes the good songs are GREAT but maybe they're so great because of the 10 minutes of discordant nonsense you had to sit through to get there.
The book and lyrics assume that the audience is pretty familiar with the story - which is asking lot, have you tried to read Hugo's Les Misérables? - because it doesn't take a whole lot of time to introduce the myriad of characters and single out who you're supposed to care about. They just throw them in there and if you miss the name you're screwed.
I feel like they lyricists and musicians could have done a better job making the story more accessible. I had to dig way down into my memory of high school to remind myself what was going on rather than be gently reminded by the show. And while I agree that nothing kills a show faster than too much exposition, not enough left me with a bad taste too. Although what do I know, because this has been on tour for 25 years.
That being said, the actress who played Eponine, Chasten Harmon, was brilliant. Loved her.
And I'd probably see it again if it comes back just to figure out if I liked it or not. (I know it sounds like I didn't like it, but now that I know what to expect I'm hoping to have a different experience)
Also...apparently there's going to be another movie with Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway (what?), despite there already being one although the 1998 version wasn't a musical one.