Classic musical gets makeover for 25th anniversary tour - East Valley Tribune: Ahwatukee Foothills

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Classic musical gets makeover for 25th anniversary tour

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Posted: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 1:15 pm

The Broadway musical, “Les Miserables,” is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a fresh update of the production in a national tour.

Cameron McIntosh’s “Les Miserables,” which stops June 7 at Arizona State University’s Gammage Auditorium, will feature new set pieces and technical aspects. Even though there are some changes, the one thing that remains intact is the storyline.

“It’s great that the producers wanted to revisit this show and make it as fresh and exciting as possible,” said Betsy Morgan, who portrays the tragic Fantine. “But at the same time, ‘Les Mis’ has stood the test of time because of the music and the plot.”

Morgan said there is a comfort in hearing the songs, many of which have been covered by popular recording artists over the years.

In particular, the tune “I Dreamed a Dream” has been sung by Aretha Franklin, Neil Diamond, Mandy Patinkin and Susan Boyle.

During “Les Miserables,” Morgan’s character belts out the signature song that’s most associated with the 1987 Tony Award-winning show.

“It’s very surreal to me, but I’m very grateful to even be a part of this right now,” Morgan said.

Based on Victor Hugo’s novel of the same name, “Les Miserables” follows several people during a student uprising in France, as they struggle for redemption. Just like an opera, the dialogue is sung by the characters rather than spoken.

“‘Les Mis’ has had such a lasting effect on people in 25 years that I’m not surprised it’s still around and folks still want to see it,” said Morgan. “Anyone with a life journey will relate to this material from mothers and fathers to children.”

Before tackling the role of Fantine, Morgan had seen the original Broadway tour in 1989 and hoped one day to have the opportunity to perform in it.

All of the familiar elements in “Les Miserables” are still on stage, Morgan said, but with a more modern flair that adds to the production.

“We had a number of projections of Hugo’s paintings incorporated into the musical and nothing looks dated, so it’s a fresh approach,” Morgan said.

With this particular version, Morgan said many fans who love “Les Miserables” will enjoy it. But she also hopes young people flock to the musical as well.

“I know people who adore this show will be here, but this update is great, so a new generation can have that same love, too,” she said.

Mitchell Vantrease may be reached at 623-876-2526 or

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