When “Les Miz” first conquered Chicago sixteen years ago at the Auditorium Theatre, its worldwide slogan was The Musical Sensation—fitting for a show whose Broadway arrival had been a cultural event worthy of the cover of Newsweek. And though the musical would go on to achieve the mind-numbing success (dozens and dozens of productions in dozens of languages around the globe) to make itself known as The World’s Most Popular Musical, this national touring company of “Les Misérables”—part of the Broadway in Chicago season—once again demonstrates that it still befits its former appellation. Indeed, the show’s crisp cinematic staging relies on little more than a scrim, a turntable and some lighting for its absorbing storytelling. The uniformly strong singing voices hold their own against the powerful orchestrations of the symphonic score. And the outstanding lyrics are interpreted with dramatic alacrity uncommon in long-running productions. Post dancing felines but pre crashing chandeliers, “Les Misérables” remains the only British blockbuster from that era in which the human emotion and storytelling is as sweeping as the scenic wonders. (F.O. Almeida)
“Les Misérables” plays at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 West Randolph, (312)902-1400, through April 24.