Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

Les Misérables
National Tour
Review by Susan Berlin | Season Schedule

Also see Susan's recent reviews of Jennifer Who Is Leaving, On the Far End and Shout Sister Shout!

Preston Truman Boyd and Nick Cartell
Photo by Matthew Murphy & Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade
The tour of Les Misérables has returned to Washington for a two-week stay at the Kennedy Center Opera House, where the musical epic by Claude-Michel Schönberg (music/book), Alain Boublil (original French lyrics/book), and Herbert Kretzmer (English lyrics) made its U.S. premiere in 1986. This production, directed by Laurence Connor and James Powell, looks and sounds as thrilling as ever.

Changes in theatrical technology since the opening of the original production mean that Matt Kinley's set design does not need to dominate the stage; here, atmospheric projections by Finn Ross and Fifty-Nine Productions carry much of that burden. (The famous barricade no longer fills the entire width of the stage, but pieces of it conceal light towers and speakers at the sides of the proscenium.)

That said, the projections–some of which are adapted from paintings by the author of the original novel, Victor Hugo–draw the viewer deep into the action, most impressively in the scene where Jean Valjean (Nick Cartell) takes refuge in the Parisian sewers following the collapse of the students' revolt. Paule Constable's lighting design often has a painterly touch, softening the rougher edges or spotlighting individual performers in tightly focused shafts of light.

Cartell is a powerful Valjean, a man of physical action who shows subtlety as his character travels, step by step, from revenge to redemption. He also has the necessary soaring tenor voice, demonstrated most breathtakingly in an ethereal "Bring Him Home." Preston Truman Boyd, a broad-shouldered man with a deep and resonant voice, excels as Valjean's antagonist, the righteous (and self-righteous) Inspector Javert.

Haley Dortch portrays Fantine as physically slight but emotionally steely: she gives "I Dreamed a Dream" an edge of anger beneath the character's pain and humiliation. Christine Heesun Hwang plays up the restlessness of Eponine with a feverish "On My Own," while Gregory Lee Rodriguez' Marius comes across as boyish until, faced with loss, he mourns with a chilling "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables." Addie Morales looks lovely and sings beautifully as Cosette, but her character has fewer opportunities to show off.

Other standouts are Henry Kirk (who alternates with Milo Maharlika) as little but streetwise Gavroche, Devin Archer as golden-voiced Enjolras, and Matt Crowle and Christina Rose Hall as the hilariously despicable Thénardiers.

Les Misérables runs through April 29, 2023, at John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Opera House, 2700 F St. NW, Washington DC. For tickets and information, please call 800-444-1324 or 202-467-4600 or visit For more information on the tour, visit

A musical based on the novel by Victor Hugo
Directed by Laurence Connor and James Powell
Additional material by James Fenton
Adaptation by Trevor Nunn and John Caird
Musical staging by Geoffrey Garratt
Music Director/Conductor: Brian Eads

Jean Valjean: Nick Cartell
Javert: Preston Truman Boyd
Farmer: Steve Czarnecki
Laborer: Daniel Gerard Bittner
Innkeeper's Wife: Eden Mau
Innkeeper: Benjamin H. Moore
The Bishop of Digne: Randy Jeter
Constables: Christopher James Tamayo, David Young Fernandez
Factory Foreman: Steve Czarnecki
Fantine: Haley Dortch
Factory Girl: Julia Ellen Richardson
Old Woman: Emily Somé
Wigmaker: Kelsey Denae
Bamatabois: Ciaran Bowling
Fauchelevent: J.T. Wood
Champmathieu: Andrew Marks Maughan
Little Cosette: Cora Jane Messer/Vivian Atencio
Madame Thénardier: Christina Rose Hall
Young Eponine: Cora Jane Messer/Vivian Atencio
Thénardier: Matt Crowle
Petit Gervais/Gavroche: Milo Maharlika/Henry Kirk
Eponine: Christine Heesun Hwang
Cosette: Addie Morales

Thénardier's Gang:
Montparnasse: Christopher James Tamayo
Babet: Ciaran Bowling
Brujon: Steve Czarnecki
Claquesous: Benjamin H. Moore

Students: Enjolras: Devin Archer
Marius: Gregory Lee Rodriguez
Combeferre: Andrew Marks Maughan
Feuilly: Daniel Gerard Bittner
Courfeyrac: Ethan Rogers
Joly: J.T. Wood
Grantaire: Kyle Adams
Lesgles: Randy Jeter
Jean Prouvaire: David Young Fernandez
Loud Hailer: Randy Jeter
Major Domo: Kyle Adams
Ensemble: Jenna Burns, Arianne DiCerbo, Genevieve Ellis, Daelynn Carter Jorie, Sofie Nesanelis