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Les Misérables Returns

A New Dream Dreamed in Spectacular Production

Theatre Review by Jason Clevett (From July 2018 Online)
Cafe and Matt Shingledecker as Enjolras
Cafe and Matt Shingledecker as Enjolras
One Day More
One Day More
Image by: Matthew Murphy
Mary Kate Moore as Fantine
Mary Kate Moore as Fantine

Since 1980 Les Misérables has been seen by over 70 million people. One of the longest running Broadway and West End shows of all time, a new twist on the classic production is currently touring North America, stopping in Calgary until July 22nd.

Based on Victor Hugo’s novel, Les Miz as it is known by fans is set in France in the early 19th century. It is the story of Jean Valjean (Nick Cartell), a French peasant on his quest for redemption. Along the way Valjean, his adopted daughter Cosette (Jillian Butler) and a number of other characters are swept up in the French Revolution.

This particular production has a local twist. Born in Chicago, ensemble member Caitline Finnie called Calgary home for many years, and has family here. Many family and friends were attending the show.

"It’s really incredible. I have around 40 people coming, and my dad reached out to my first ever voice teacher from when I was ten and she is coming as well. So, I am excited and scared," Finnie told "I am really sad that we were not booked for last week so I could have gone to Stampede for the day. I am really glad to be around my family and play with my little cousins. It is so nice to be back in the good clean air and be with my family and then do the show at night. We do need a lot of rest so sometimes you have the cities that you just need to rest and don’t get to be a tourist, but I’ve made time for my family."

As a member of the ensemble, she plays a number of characters from peasant women to whores to a homing pigeon. She is also an understudy for the role of Cosette, which poses a unique challenge in tackling both roles.

"I have gone on for her a little over 20 times now. I feel really comfortable in the role. I love doing it and it is always exciting when I get that text or call saying I am going to go on," she said, adding that call can be made at a moment’s notice, even mid show. "Albuquerque was a difficult city to perform in because of the dryness and lack of oxygen because of the altitude. Jillian had to call out in the middle of the show. I was doing my ensemble tracks at the time. I did the barricade scene for act 2 and then had about 2 songs to change my wig, mic, make up and costume into Cosette. I feel like I’ve done it enough that the role is a bit easier than my ensemble track. It is really fun and exciting and a good challenge."

The new production is absolutely awe inspiring. A stunning cast vocally is supported by constantly moving set, this production is a far cry from the original visually. There is a lot going on and the actors have to rush around frantically to change characters while staying out of the crew’s way.

"The production is so big and there are so many technical aspects, it runs really smoothly. I just do my business and try and stay out of the crew’s way. It’s a lot going on backstage."

There is a reason Les Misérables has had the longevity it has had. While the story can be a bit difficult to follow for some if not familiar with it, it is delivered brilliantly by the touring cast.

"A lot of people have said that they are diehard fans that have seen the show 20 or 30 times, and that it is their favourite production of the show. The staging, direction, use of production. We don’t have the turntable, but we have these incredible projections of Victor Hugo’s artwork, everyone in the cast is so talented, so unique vocally and look wise. It’s a really different, fresh and modern take on Les Miz.

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Contributor Jason Clevett |

Locale Calgary |

Topic Broadway Across Canada | Theatre |


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