Les Misérables barricade is up again on the Orpheum stage.

The ensemble of Les Miserables playing at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco.

Les Misérables: Musical Drama. By Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel, adapted from the novel by Victor Hugo. Directed by Laurence Connor and James Powell. Orpheum Theatre, 1192 Market St., San Francisco. (888) 746-1799. www.shnsf.com.

Les Misérables barricade is up again on the Orpheum stage.

It has been 25 years since Les Misérables opened on the West End in London. Since that time this inspired musical drama has had continually productions throughout the world. If memory serves me right this is the third staging to reach San Francisco but this time around it has an eye-popping new staging making what is old new again creating a must see show.

This 25th anniversary production is brilliantly restaged using moving projections based on Victor Hugo’s drawings of Paris that carry the audience “into" streets and catacombs of ancient Paris. This traveling version also is graced with top-notch singers, an exciting chorus/dancers and costumes ranging from grungy for the rebels to grand for the aristocracy and humorous for the buffoons. It is a full package that will be probably be running for years to come keeping the 17 years of cat and mouse chase of Jean Valjean by Inspector Javert alive.

After an exciting prologue by the entire company there is a shift to a heart crushing scene of the unjustly jailed Jean Valjean chained to oar of a slave ship as punishment for stealing a loaf of bread for his starving niece. Peter Lockyer’s marvelous tenor voice for his “Soliloquy” is matched for quality by Andrew Varela’s booming baritone as the ruthless Javert. This sets the stage for an ensemble of full voices with a strong orchestral backing doing great justice to the pop-opera score.

Briana Carlson-Goodman as the ill-fated Éponine has a charming lilting voice that is matched by Betsy Morgan in the role of Fantine singing the plaintiff “I Dreamed a Dream.” The child actors of Abby Rose Gould, Zoe Eliades and diminutive Marcus D’Angelo shine in their relatively brief appearances.

While the new staging is impressive it does not over-power the individual stories and the life-long battle of Jean Valjean and Javert. Neither actor has the advantage of being vocally superior keeping the story line in focus making Javert’s final redemptive “Soliloquy” as he plunges from the bridge a cathartic theatrical moment.

Jean Valjean’s guardianship of Cosette (a charming Lauren Wiley) and her love for Marius (Max Quinlan) playing out against the background of the inhuman French 19th century judicial system fostered by a corrupt government causing great gap between the rich and the poor has a modern ring to it. There were tears in the eyes of many of the audience as if they were waiting for the “Bring Him Home” number. All is not grim and there are ample breaks for guarded levity when the stage comes alive with “Master of the House” in act one and “Beggars at the Feast” in act two.

The finale was greeted with an uproarious standing ovation requiring multiple curtain calls. Running time 2 hours and 40 minutes with intermission.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworldinternetmagazine.com.