‘Les Misérables’ is raising the flag of freedom high at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre

'Les Misérables'. Photo courtesy of Les Misérables Tour 2024.
'Les Misérables'. Photo courtesy of Les Misérables Tour 2024.

Fox Theatre, Atlanta, GA.
June 4, 2024.

Les Misérables, “the world’s most popular musical,” has arrived at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre for a limited one-week run. With its sweeping scores, poignant storyline and unforgettable characters, audiences are certain to be spellbound by the phenomenon that has captured hearts across the globe.

Les Misérables has long been a favorite of mine, although it had been nearly 15 years since I last enjoyed a live production. Upon arriving at The Fox, theater-goers spilled out of the lobby onto Peachtree Street, and the excitement of opening night was in the air. As I settled into my seat, I knew I was in for a most memorable night. When the final notes of Valjean’s “What Have I Done?” soared through the air and transitioned to the beginning notes of “At The End of the Day,” the crowd went wild. This kind of response became commonplace as the night went on, and it certainly was well warranted.

Nick Cartell portrayed the fugitive Jean Valjean, with the Atlanta opening night being his 1,200th show as prisoner 24601. Cartell’s performance embodied the sincerity of a man transformed by grace. I was drawn in completely by the character of Valjean with a renewed appreciation for the redemptive power of his storyline. Cartell’s vocals were far and away the highlight of the night. Jean Valjean has some of the most demanding vocals on Broadway, and Cartell carried the role with ease. There was a gentle grace as he sung “Bring Him Home” contrasted with deep conviction as he sung “Who Am I?” The evolution of Valjean from a hardened convict to loving father was stunningly captured by Cartell, and I hope he continues to portray the beloved character as long as he is able.

Inspector Javert, was played by Preston Truman Boyd. The dichotomy between one bound by the law, to Valjean’s redemption and grace was agonizingly clear through Boyd’s portrayal of Javert. In the iconic “Confrontation,” the tension was palpable between Cartell and Boyd. Boyd’s “Stars” was another standout moment, resulting in thunderous applause. Haley Dortch’s portrayal of Fantine encapsulated the desperation of a single mother to take care of her child – no matter the cost. Mya Rena Hunter’s fearless portrayal of Eponine brought me to tears during her heart-wrenching ballad “On My Own.” Jake David Smith as Marius and Delaney Guyer as Cosette were the perfect pair. Their vocals and mannerisms complimented one another, as their love evolved from infatuation to deep devotion. Leo Caravano’s portrayal of the spunky Gavroche, was also noteworthy. His confidence spilled off the stage, and he’ll definitely be one to keep an eye on as he gets older.

Dancing shone when the Thénardiers, portrayed by Matt Crowle and Victoria Huston-Elem, were onstage. With much needed comic-relief, “Master of the House” was a feast for the eyes. Truly, it seemed no matter where your eyes landed, there was something to chuckle about. The ensemble twirled and whirled about, while injecting cheeky exchanges along the way. Similarly, during “Beggars At The Feast,” a lavish ballroom set the stage, dancers waltzed around, and the Thénardiers clumsily made themselves known. Contrarily, in the somber “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables,” simple movements added a dramatic element to Marius’ agony of being left behind. When those who perished at the barricade re-joined him onstage, you could feel the “grief that can’t be spoken.”

As Les Miz drew to a close last night, I was struck once again by the eternal truths it proclaims. There is freedom in forgiveness, and what we choose to do with unmerited grace can rewrite the story of our lives. Whether you’ve never seen Les Misérables or you’ve seen it dozens of times, the impact of the iconic story and songs is unchanging.

Don’t miss the National Tour! Visit to learn more.

By Melody McTier Thomason of Dance Informa.

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