The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Entertainment

October 17, 2013

Beef and Boards ends 40th season with epic 'Les Mis'

Cast and crew nails performance in every way

INDIANAPOLIS – Sometimes ambition pays off in a big way. Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre has chosen to end its 40th season with the epic musical “Les Misérables” and the cast and crew has completely nailed the performance in every way.

Not only is “Les Misérables” a difficult play to stage that demands outstanding singers, but the release of the recent movie only ratchets up the expectation of audiences. The talent that fills the small Indianapolis stage, however, is second to none and delivers much more than even the toughest critic could want.

Having seen the musical performed on Broadway years ago, I was interested to see how the dinner theater would approach such a huge undertaking. Their production totally blew away the one I saw in New York.

This production is simply amazing.

Four Broadway performers join the stage with full, rich, mesmerizing voices. Not only are the main characters outstanding, but every supporting role delivers a memorable moment that transports the audience to another time and place.

Based on the novel by Victor Hugo, the tale follows Jean Valjean after his release from 19 years on the chain gang for stealing a loaf of bread to keep his nephew from starving. Once free he breaks parole in order to acquire a fresh start. After becoming a respectable business owner (and is even elected mayor), he rescues and raises the daughter of a dying woman.

Javert, an officer fixated on the letter of the law, pursues Valjean and discovers his true identity. Valjean flees with the girl and, as she comes of age, she becomes infatuated with a passionate revolutionary.

Ingeniously using their space on the stage, the small theater loses nothing in set design. A minimalist show even on the Broadway stage, “Les Misérables” required less of a backdrop than most shows staged by Beef and Boards. However, it did require using the stage in such a way as to allow voices of characters in different places to blend without confusing the audience as to their locations. This production achieved the perfect result.

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