Sunday, October 6

Theater Review: Beef and Boards Les Miserables


I do not think it is out of line to say Les Miserables has been the most anticipated production on the Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre's 2013 lineup. Some hoping it would be great, others certain it would not be.

"How possibly," the naysayers whispered, "could a small stage be used in such an epic production?" "Where will they find the talent to back up the vocal needs of this beloved tale?"

Well, I am here to state they pulled it off and not by a small margin.

Bringing in no fewer than four Broadway performers, a television actress and touring performers, the Indianapolis theater left nothing to chance for the Victor Hugo tale.

Starring as the ex-convict who breaks parole, Jean Valjean, is Gregg Goodbrod. The Broadway performer set the standard at a peak with his weary, disillusioned-with-life, thief-turned-philanthropist Valjean. From the onset with the prison scene to the ending on his deathbed, Goodbrod brings it ~ whether in the tenderest of moments, during the anguish of loneliness or when strength was needed ~ he brings it every time. His vocal talent is best demonstrated in, well, pretty much every single song, but Who am I brought the audience to rapt attention.

Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of watching Sarah Hund in action knows her instrumental, vocal and comedic talents are without bounds. Watching her portray Fantine, the single mother cast aside who turns to self-degradation for money in order to save her daughter, and perform I Dreamed a Dream, is mesmerizing.

To review the television and stage actress in a dramatic role is beyond satisfying ~ it's pure bliss. A complete talent and more than a triple threat, Hund is a chameleon, evolving into each character ~ siren, goofball, nerd, ditz, sophisticate and, now, courageous street prostitute ~ with an ease that is bewitching.

Bringing comedic relief, in a huge way, are Annie Edgerton and Doug Stark as Innkepers M & Mme. Thenardier. Picking pockets, slinging bad brew and pulling every dirty trick possible are all on the resume of this loathsome ~ yet laughable ~ pair.
Javert, the holier-than-thou police inspector who tracks Valjean with a vengeance. is portrayed impeccably by Joe Tokarz. Tokarz' version of Javert's suicide is seamless, as are his vocals throughout.

There is not enough room, unfortunately, to mention every cast member, although they each truly deserve a mention.

My prediction is B&B will need to add performances for this production.
The reason?
The cast. It is as strong, polished and interwoven as it can possibly get outside of the lights of Broadway.

Bottom Line: If you have wondered about Beef and Boards' version of Les Miz, or you've not been in a long while, or ever ~ let me reassure you. This is the strongest cast and most polished performance I have seen at this venue in the seven years I have reviewed the Indianapolis theater scene.

Images: JulieCurryPhotography.com

Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a syndicated fine-living, travel columnist, freelance writer and photographer, and performing arts and restaurant critic for Gotta Go. Read Infused, her spirits, wine & beer lifestyle column, at www.GottaGo.us and www.FoodDigital.com and catch her as Indy’s Personal Lifestyle Adviser on Indy Style, WISH8 (CBS). Gotta Go is published on www.Gottago.us, www.BroadwayWorld.com, and in print. Follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.

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