Directors: James Powell and Laurence Connor
Design: Matt Kinley
Lighting: Paule Constable
Projection: 59 Productions
Sound: Mick Potter
Choreography: Mike Ashcroft
Cameron Mackintosh Productions
Cameron Mackintosh / Networks
Imperial Theater, NY, Mar 2014
After the spectacular success of European and US tours, this re-designed and re-imagined staging of the 25-year old classic, featuring animation and projection design by 59 Productions, opens on Broadway.
Designer Matt Kinley's artwork - based on Victor Hugo's own beautiful and startling watercolours - has been brought to life through animation and projection by 59 Productions' team. Providing scenographic and dramatic impetus, this re-imagined edition of the classic musical features projection throughout, and many key moments - including Valjeans journey through the Paris Sewers with an injured Marius, and Javert's infamous suicide sequence - are given renewed energy and vigour as a result.
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'The design palette is limited to gray on black — the universal colors of deep depression — with only a flash of red in the giant flag that the rebels carry to the barricade. In this lead-coffin context, Paule Constable’s murky lighting design is quite beautiful, as are the stunning projections (realized by Fifty-Nine Prods.) that provide a brooding backdrop for dramatic scenes of Valjean running for his life in the sewers of Paris, and Javier standing on a moonlit bridge and contemplating his fate.'
'The innovative turntable set of the original production is gone, replaced by Matt Kinley's simple but elegant sets and projections (by Fifty-Nine Productions) that seem to evoke the gritty street scenes of Hooper's film as well as original paintings by Les Miz author Victor Hugo.'
'It boasts music by Claude-Michel Schonberg, lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer and original French text by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel. Producer Cameron Mackintosh was sold on reviving the show after learning that set designer Matt Kinley was inspired by the paintings of Hugo, which are often brooding, eerie and romantic.
His images of Paris infuse the production — augmented by enough fog to host a heavy metal festival — and, together with golden beams of lighting by Paule Constable, leave the actors looking a bit like they're in paintings themselves.
Projections by Fifty-Nine Productions are subtle until brilliant, especially the plunge into the sewers in Act 2. There is no massive spinning turntable on the stage, as in previous incarnations, but it isn't missed.'
'Take note: The first English go-round -- after the Claude-Michel Schonberg/Alain Boublil-Jean-Marc Natel undertaking was imported to the Royal Shakespeare Company from France and Herbert Kretzmer supplied English lyrics -- was directed by Trevor Nunn and John Caird and designed by John Napier and went on to win nine Tonys but included no credit for projections.
Not so, Mackintosh's updated-for-the-21st-century Les Miz. It's directed by recent Mackintosh faves Laurence Connor and James Powell. Perhaps even more significantly, it boasts projections by Fifty-Nine Productions in order to provide the tuner with a cinematic appeal to spectators hungering for something of the sort after wallowing in the movie.'