Les Misérables Is a Stunning Journey Through Redemption: Hollywood Pantages Review

John Nguyen

Do you hear the audience cheer? Cheering on for Les Miserables at the Hollywood Pantages?

Les Misérables is one of the longest-running Broadway musicals that has been captivating audiences of different generations. The latest production at Hollywood Pantages features an outstanding cast, once again showing that the musical experience is truly magical and moving. The impressive talent includes Nick Cartell as Jean Valjean, Haley Dortch as Fantine, Preston Truman Boyd as Javert, Christine Heesun Hwang as Eponine, Christina Rose Hall as Madame Thénardier, and Matt Crowle as Thénardier,

Nick Cartell truly shines as Jean Valjean, and while I was worried about his youthful looks, his performance, makeup and hair removed my worries. The main performers each have songs that show off their singing skills, and with “Bring Him Home,” he delivered a powerful performance that felt divine. Cartell does a solid job of conveying someone who just wants to help others while also running from the law from the might of Javert.

Haley Dortch is impressive as she displays vulnerability and strength in the character of Fantine, a mother who would do anything for her daughter. Dortch had her moment to shine bright with “I Dreamed a Dream,” and she did not disappoint with her haunting and poignant vocals.

Christine Heesun gave a surprising and wonderful performance as Eponine since she didn’t get to show off her vocals in her earlier appearance. Once she got to “On My Own,” she knocked it out of the park with an emotional and sad rendition, elevating her role as a character who longs for love but that love belongs to another.

Javert is the antagonist on the hunt for Jean Valjean, and he’s played by Preston Truman Boyd. He has a commanding presence with his own sense of justice who doesn’t see grey. He acts as a great contrast to Valjean, drawing on anger and obsession to the point where I even felt his negative aura from where I was sitting. He was a standout in “Stars” as he questions his way of life, and the set designs were impressive with the use of practical effects to display a dynamic bridge and Javert’s final moments.

The comedic moments belong to Christina Rose Hall and Matt Crowle, both portraying the despicable Madame Thénardier and Thénardier, respectively. The casting was especially perfect for Crowle as Thénardier, with his face and mannerisms capturing someone who’s conniving and untrustworthy. The musical is sad with its historical setting, and Hall and Crowle bring their own much-needed humor to the production.

The stage production and outfits echoed the historical setting, and there were creative uses of the sets, especially with the “Stars” scene mentioned earlier. It was a stroke of genius that employs great use of props and stunt work and performance by Boyd. Another impressive set was the big battle sequences with the rebels and their oppressors, stacking and mixing furniture to create a barricade. There’s even the use of a weapon in the show where I was able to smell the smoke from the weapon after it was fired.

Final Reaction

With the performance of Les Misérables, it continues to be a tour de force. I usually have issues with a few performers in musicals in general, but here, all the cast members have performed at their peak including Nick Cartell, Christine Heesun Hwang, Haley Dortch, Preston Truman Boyd, Christina Rose Hall, Matt Crowle and more. They bring new life to the treasured characters, and the production values with the props and sets help round everything up. Les Misérables continues to be a stunning journey through the French Uprising, engrossing audiences with emotional and moving performances and classic songs.

Les Miserables is now at Hollywood Pantages Theatre until September 10, 2023. It’ll be heading to Costa Mesa at Segerstrom Center for the Arts from September 19 – October 1, 2023.

Photo credit: One Day More from Les Misérables by Matthew Murphy & Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade