top of page

The touring KeyBank Broadway Series of ‘Les Misérables’ is truly spectacular

Les Misérables first appeared as a French language concept album. Later it was adapted for stage as a sung through French musical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel of the same name with music by Claude-Michel Schönberg and lyrics by Jean-Marc Natel.

In 1983 producer Cameron Mackintosh had just opened “Cats” on Broadway when he received a copy of the French album from director Peter Farago who requested an English language version of the show. Mackintosh was initially reluctant but finally agreed. With help from the Royal Shakespeare Company a production team was formed to develop the French musical for a British audience. Two years later the show opened on October 8, 1985 in London’s West End in the Barbican Centre in London’s West End where the RSC was housed.

Initially critics panned the show calling it “a lurid Victorian melodrama...” and “as witless and synthetic entertainment.” Fortunately, ticket sales proved them wrong with the first three month engagement sold out. Eventually the reviews improved and the London production ran for 34 years and 13,000 performances making it the second longest running musical in the world. So much for critic’s opinions.

Across the pond the show opened on Broadway on March 12, 1987 running for 16 years and 6,680 performances where it was deemed the second longest Broadway running musical. As of 2022 it ranks sixth in longest running Broadway shows. It was nominated for 12 Tony Awards and was awarded eight including Best Musical and Best original Score.

Over the years the show has enjoyed many tours as well as international and regional productions of various forms. The current touring Broadway production now appearing in the State Theatre at Playhouse Square as part of the KeyBank Broadway Series is the unabridged complete version lasting a bit over two hours and forty-five minutes plus intermission.

We find Jean Valjean (Nick Cartell) as a rower on a ship serving the final day of his 19 year sentence at hard labor for stealing a loaf of bread for his starving sister and nephew. The prison guard, Javert (Preston Truman Boyd) gives the parolee his yellow ticket of leave that identifies him as an ex-convict. Valjean is shunned at each town and village and is unable to find work or lodging. At his moment of deepest despair the Bishop of Digne takes him in only to have Valjean steal some silver cups. Valjean is arrested but the Bishop steps in and tells the police that the cups were a gift and that Valjean had forgotten to take the silver candle sticks. The Bishop gets Valjean to promise to use the silver to become an honest man. Valjean makes the decision to better himself and tears up his yellow ticket breaking his parole.

Eight years pass and Jean Valjean is now Monsieur Madeleine who owns a large factory and is mayor of Montreuil-sur-Mer. One of his employees is a single mother, Fantine, who works to support her daughter Cosette who is being abusively raised by an innkeeper and his wife. The factory foreman lusts after Fantine who rejects his advances. Later, a co-worker steals a letter about Cosette revealing that Fantine is an unwed mother. A fight breaks out and results in Fantine getting fired. In desperate circumstances Fantine sells her locket and hair until forced to become a prostitute. When she fights against an abusive customer she is arrested. The arresting officer is Javert. Valjean passes the scene and realizing that Fantine once worked for him orders as mayor for Javert to release her. Valjean takes Fantine to a hospital for care where she passes away as Valjean promises to take care of Cosette.

Valjean escapes once again from Javert and moves to Paris with Cosette. Paris is in the throes of revolution as young idealistic well to do students have pledged to fight for the poor. Cosette falls in love with one of the students, Marius as barricades are erected for the confrontation with the army.

Absolutely nothing is spared in this lavish production of Les Misérables. The casting is absolutely superb. Nick Cartell (Jean Valjean) has the physical presence and amazing vocal range to master the role. The same can be said of Preston Truman Boyd (Javert) who is a perfect foil for the pursued convict. Haley Dortch (Fantine), Christine Heesun Hwang (Eponine) and Addie Morales (Cosette) make full use of their vocal talents during their solos. Gregory Lee Rodriguez (Marius) is powerful as the love struck student vying for Cosette’s eye. Lastly, the comic duo of Christina Rose Hall (Madame Thenardier) and Matt Crowle (Thenardier) bring much needed relief from what could have been a very grim work.

The fifteen piece orchestra directed by Brian Eads (with some members playing up to four different instruments) does an outstanding job with some of the most difficult and complex music in the world. Matt Kinley’s set and image design is spectacular with complex entire sets moving into position with ease. The period costuming design of Adreane Neofitou is spot on and Paule Constable’s lighting sets a perfect mood throughout. Special note must be made of the video projections realized by Finn Ross. The opening ship, bridge scenes and Paris sewer scene are masterful.

The full majestic power of Broadway is brought to the stage with this over the top performance of Le Miz. At times you will be tempted to mount the stage and join the students at the barricades (not recommended). Sit back and witness a spectacle of extraordinary depth as Playhouse Square is privileged to host this production for a full three weeks as its first stop on the national tour.

Les Misérables will be on the Keybank State Theatre stage at Playhouse Square in Cleveland, Ohio through October 30, 2022. For more information and tickets go to or call (216) 241-6000.


  • Facebook B&W
  • Twitter B&W
Who is Mark Horning?

Over the course of my life I have worked a variety of jobs including newspapers, retail camera sales and photography. Eight years ago I embarked on yet another career as writer. This included articles concerning sports and cultural events in Cleveland, Ohio as well reviews of the many theatrical productions around town. These days are spent photographing professional dance groups, theater companies and various galas and festivals as well as attending various stage performances and posting reviews about them.  

bottom of page