The week before last The Southern Gent and I were fortunate enough to go and see Les Miserables right here in Charleston. The North Charleston Performing Arts Center (PAC), a great venue that I have mentioned before, hosts a Best of Broadway each year. I believe we caught the tail end of the 2012-2013 season with this production of Les Mis as the next performance in the Best of Broadway series is not until November 5-10, Jersey Boys.
I have seen Les Mis once before when I lived in NY. At the tail end of my law school career I went with some friends. We got dressed up, went out to dinner, had two glasses of wine and went to the show. This was ten years ago so the most I remember about the production was that the portion of the stage where the actors performed was circular and as a result, they could rotate the stage during the performance. For Les Mis this was especially handy during the battle scene at the end of the show. What I remember most though was when the stage first began to rotate, I had no idea what was happening but I was pretty sure someone had slipped something into one of my two glasses of wine and I started looking for the nearest exit. Things improved after I realized it was a bit of theatrical magic.
To be honest, I am not really one for broadway shows. I saw Rent, Les Mis, Oklahoma! and the Vagina Monologues (which was actually an “off broadway” performance) while I lived in NY. Apart from feeling slightly scandalous when I went to see the Vagina Monologues, the only performance I really enjoyed was Oklahoma! Perhaps it is my love of the West that endeared me to this particular performance or maybe it was because my mom was with me. Whatever the reason, I have the most happy memories from that outing.
After all of that though, I really did enjoy myself at the Les Mis production here in Charleston the other night. I did not remember much of the story so I read the snyopsis in the play bill when we got there. This helped me follow along with the story so much better as I usually have trouble deciphering the plot because I can’t always understand what the people are singing about. I have the same problem with music generally. I will listen to songs today that I used to listen to in high school and think, “wait, that’s what they are singing about???”
Without going in to some drawn out blow-by-blow summary of the story I will say that my favorite characters of the evening were the Thenardiers, played by Timothy Gulan and Shawana Hamic. Obviously not for any particular moral qualities the two did, or rather did not, possess. Rather, I thought they, especially Madame Thernardier, stole the show. The music, words and their interactions were hilarious. I would say that the production was worth it to go and see just for the two of them alone. Beyond that, the sets and the special effects that the production team achieved on stage were very cool.
Anyway, Best of Broadway at the PAC – check it out next season. And don’t worry, it seems there are a fair amount of cities across the nation that host these national touring companies that put on well-known, full scale broadway productions. So, you can probably catch a good show somewhere near you!
Have a great weekend everyone!