Reagle Music Theatre has discovered the secret to staging a thrilling Les Miserables. Combine author Victor Hugo with director David Hugo…et voila! Magic! Coincidence or confluence? No matter. This production of the hit Boublil/Schonberg musical (playing in Waltham through Aug. 18) has fire in its belly. Every actor in the ensemble is a distinct, important character and every character works to transform the mundane to the memorable. (I’ve seen numerous Broadway tours without being impressed. Reagle’s production got my attention. Hugo and company give the musical a soul.)
Diretor Hugo’s magnificent tableux (in lieu of a turntable) conjure up visions of Delacroix and music director Dan Rodriguez’s orchestra summons up the passion deep in Schonberg’s score. The Reagle auditorium, in all its forty-five years, I’ll wager, has never heard an uproar like the screaming outburst at show’s end last Friday night, when the audience erupted in ecstasy. Something extraordinary is happening at Reagle.
Reagle’s m.o. is to import Broadway performers to headline their shows. Ivan Rutherford has sung Jean Valjean over 2000 times (Broadway, tours and regional theaters) and he certainly brings gravitas and grace to the role but Reagle regulars are right up there, giving the performances of their lives. Case in point is David Carney’s tour de force. He gives the leader of the student uprising clarity, nobility and swagger—and he sings with his heart on his sleeve, not an easy accomplishment. Reagle veterans Angela Richardson as Fantine and Mara Wilson as Eponine, as well, contribute gorgeous vocals to the mix.
Local performers like Rishi Basu, as the kind Bishop who rescues Valjean from the police, like Doug Jabara as Valjean’s obsessed pursuer, like Ross Brown as the handsome student who falls in love with Valjean’s daughter (Kathryn McKellar), all bring a palpable emotional power to the story. Kudos, too, to the many chorus and secondary character performers, who often play leads on Boston stages, but here support the ensemble: Kelton Washington, Kami Rushell Smith, Peter Mill, Matt Phillipps and Phil Taylor.