Preview: 'Les Miserables' at the Auditorium

01:50 PM, May 06, 2013

This touring production of Les Miserables features splashes of color and sets inspired by paintings. (Deen van Meer)/


Written By David McGroarty-Manley | Staff writer

If you go

What:
Les Miserables.
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday; 1 and 6:30 p.m. next Sunday.
Where: Auditorium Theatre, 885 E. Main St.
Tickets: $35 to $80 and available at the theater box office, ticketmaster.com and (800) 745-3000.

The 25th anniversary tour of Les Miserables lands at the Auditorium Theatre on Tuesday, closing out the Rochester Broadway Theatre League’s season.

With renewed interest because of the anniversary and the blockbuster film version of the world’s longest-running musical, this production is not the same as tours in the 1990s. Producers have put a modern spin on it.

It’s a brand new production, really,” says Peter Lockyer, who plays the lead role of Jean Valjean. “It’s been rethought and redesigned. … The set is completely different; they based it off of Victor Hugo’s paintings, which I didn’t know until I joined the show that he was quite a prolific painter.”

Hugo, the great novelist who wrote Les Miserables in 1862, stopped writing as he was pursuing a political career and turned to art for a creative outlet. His ink drawings foreshadowed the abstracts of masters a generation later and are in mode with the tone he sets in his story about the French Revolution.

While there are still roots tied to the original, the costumes have also undergone a redesign for the production, which has limited tickets left for most of the performances being staged Tuesday through next Sunday.

They were sort of based on the original, but what they did was they brought a splash of color into the show, whereas the original production was sort of black-and-white in tone and romantic that way,” Lockyer explains. “There is now a splash of color.”

Lockyer is a veteran of Les Mis productions. A decade ago, he played Marius for six years. Marius is a revolutionary, young and in love, a character very different in age and purpose than Valjean.

The transition, though, was “more natural than you might think.”

Over a decade had gone by, so I’m closer to Valjean’s age than I am to Marius’ age, at this point. It’s sort of the natural transition of age, really,” Lockyer says.

The natural transition of actors is something many theater-goers have grown with while attending the production over the past few decades. Now, producers hope they can capture the audience who saw and liked the film version of Les Mis.

What’s funny is that this new production has been out for 2 1/2 years now, so well before the film was even shot or cast, and so there’s a new generation coming out to it anyway,” Lockyer says.

There are so many kids that are seeing it. I think they appreciate a new, modern take on it, and now that the film’s out, I think it’s just in people’s consciousness now.”

Despite considering the comparison of the film and theatrical adaptations as “apples and oranges,” Lockyer admits that the film has aligned nicely with the 25th anniversary production.

I think it’s just part of a continuation of my time with the show, and it’s great to reinvest and re-examine the show with a new production, and I hope I get to do it continuously throughout my life,” Lockyer says.