Written by Scotty Rigtrup, Contributing Writer for InFluential Magazine
Photography courtesy of Matthew Murphy.
Lexus Broadway In Austin’s presentation of one of the most iconic and longest running musicals, Les Misérables pierces the mind with the incredible strength, resilience and indomitable spirit of human kind, layered deeply within the absolute fragility of it all, as we learn of Jean Valjean and his plight of imprisonment and subsequent release.
Haunted by his conviction and scorned by society, Jean struggles to start over until Bishop Myriel shows great mercy to him by interceding in yet another altercation with the law and encourages him to become a new man. Emboldened by this life changing act of charity, Jean Valjean strips away his past by assuming a new identity as Monsieur Madeleine and goes on to build two factories, gain great financial wealth and become mayor of his city.
While accomplished by any stretch of the imagination, Jean is again brought to humbling depths as he learns of the horrific struggles of a former employee Fantine, who is gravely ill and the abusive treatment of her young daughter Cosette by the Thénardiers, innkeepers charged with her care who extort money from Fantine to supposedly support Cosette. More burdensome still, Jean Valjean decides to turn himself in to the police to save a man wrongly accused, only then having to escape in order to rescue Cosette, though tragically not before the passing of her mother.
Now orphaned, Cosette is lovingly raised by Jean Valjean, who as a beautiful young lady, falls in love with Marius, a young law student who fights at the barricades and is rescued by Jean Valjean after being seriously wounded. Marius and Cosette soon marry and Jean Valjean separates himself from the young couple for fear of living a double life and jeopardizing their future for which Marius takes the opportunity of alienating him further because of his disproval of Jean’s criminal past, which breaks Jean’s heart and hastens his ultimate mortal demise.
Jean Valjean’s lifelong example of love and sacrifice deeply prick the conscious in this somberest of musicals accentuated by soaring ballads, despairing interludes and cynically jovial riffs. Leaving none without reason to ponder and aspirations to love more fully with Jean Vajean’s closing words, “To love another person is to see the face of God.”
The 2019/2020 Lexus Broadway in Austin presented by Texas Performing Arts season opened with Les Misérables on September 10-15, 2019 at Bass Concert Hall.