Nick Cartell, who plays peasant Jean Valjean in “Les Misérables,” said the musical is a timeless tale that anyone can relate to.
“I think it’s the story and it’s the music (that stand out),” he said. “Audiences connect with these characters because they can see something in themselves. You also have this beautiful score that has been recorded multiple times not only in theater but also by pop singers. The music is so well known.
“We’re now living in a world where people are fighting for change and fighting to make the world a better place, and that echoes so deeply with the themes within the show. When audiences come into the theater, they connect with these characters and they connect with the story and they take that away with him.”
“Les Misérables,” on its North American tour, is coming to the Fox Theatre in Midtown Feb. 26 through March 3 as part of the Fifth Third Bank Broadway in Atlanta series. Taking place in early 19th-century France, “Les Misérables” is about Valjean’s quest for redemption after serving 19 years in jail for stealing a loaf of bread for his sister's starving child.
“Les Misérables” is based on the 1862 novel by Victor Hugo and was adapted into a musical, premiering in Paris in 1980. It debuted on Broadway in New York in 1987 and won eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Original Score. Its Broadway run continued through 2003, making it the fifth longest-running Broadway show in history.
The book also has been adapted into several TV shows and movies over the years.
The musical is coming to Atlanta following a two-and-a-half year Broadway engagement. It is produced by Cameron Mackintosh and was written by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg, who penned the original story, book and lyrics for the musical.
According to a news release, the musical “tells an enthralling story of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption – a timeless testament to the survival of the human spirit.”
Monté Howell, who plays the Innkeeper and Combeferre, agreed.
“I just think it’s a very special piece,” he said. “It’s a lot of people’s first glimpse into musical theater. It tells a story of hope, love and redemption that most people would want to be able to relate to, if not experience for themselves.”
For Howell, the trip to Atlanta will be a homecoming for the Duluth native and Peachtree Ridge High School graduate. Howell, who lives in New York when not on tour and visits Atlanta twice a year, said he’s looking forward to having his family watch him in “Les Misérables” in his hometown.
“(But) more than that, I’m just excited about performing at the Fox,” he said. “If you’re a young actor growing up in the metro Atlanta area, the two places you want to perform are at the Fox and the Alliance Theatre. I’ve dreamed of doing both of those. I’ve been in an Alliance production (2014’s “Shrek The Musical”) and now I get to perform at the Fox.
“… It’s always nice to come home. … Hopefully (“Les Misérables”) will inspire someone else to achieve a certain goal if they want to do it and commit fully to achieving it.”
Both Howell and Cartell are veteran actors who have been with the “Les Misérables” tour since it started with rehearsals in August 2017. Cartell, a Phoenix native who also lives in New York when not on tour, previously performed at the Fox when the “Phantom of the Opera” tour stopped there in 2014.
“So I’m very excited to get back to the Fox and perform in one of the biggest and also most beautiful theaters in the country,” he said, adding those who come to the show won’t be disappointed.
“While it is a traditional epic musical that’s been running 33 years in London, our cast brings an energy that audiences across the country have truly enjoyed and love to see. If you’re on the fence to come see ‘Les Mis,’ I hope you’ll take the plunge, because you will not be sorry.”
Tickets start at $34 and are available by visiting www.foxtheatre.org/lesmis, calling 1-855-285-8499 or going to the Fox box office (660 Peachtree St. NE in Atlanta).