Fine individual moments include the whimsical “Master of the House” performed by the evil Thénardier (Timothy Gulan) and his Wife (Shawna M. Hamic). These two provide much needed comic relief.
Matt Kinley’s very detailed set design and Andreane Neofitou’s costume design transport you back in time. While this production isn’t on the same scale as other versions of this show, the creative team makes really good use of National Theatre’s “smaller” stage. The show uses over 55,000 pounds of scenery, and over 5,000 costume pieces.
All of this is put to good use to bring to life some of the show’s most iconic sets, including the town, Thénardier’s inn, and others. The barricade scene is probably one of the show’s most affecting moments. Paul Constable's lighting work is at times stunning.
While the subject matter is depressing, the show is surprisingly uplifting and never sinks under the weight of its weighty material. The fact that Jean Valjean went through all of this turmoil and still maintained his humanity and his desire for redemption is inspiring. You can’t help but leave the theater hopeful and even feeling a little bit better about mankind.
Les Misérables is playing at Washington, DC’s National Theatre through Dec. 30. For a video sneak peek of the new 25th anniversary production, please visit here. For information on the film version visit the movie's website.