Michael Jackson plays the protagonist, Jean Valjean, a man who escapes prison to only be chased by his parole officer for the rest of his life. After reading the book and obtaining the role, Jackson started to explore the pitfalls in today’s society. He felt especially connected to the musical’s message.
“‘Les Mis’s message still applies today,” Jackson said. “You see everything that is wrong with society in the play. People want to make a change, a difference.”
Regina Powers agrees. A veteran of the Las Vegas illusionist scene, she portrays Madame Thenadier, the inn keeper’s wife.
“You see that despite the bad, there is plenty of good,” Powers said. “You feel feelings and strong emotions, watching the performance and see how someone can blossom into a strong and brave human being. It’s thrilling and extremely entertaining.”
What makes this performance of “Les Miserable” different is that it’s set in today’s world. The actors wear clothes one would find at Legend’s instead of the traditional 19th century garb most productions don.
“Victor Hugo (“Les Miserables” author) once said, as long as there’s poverty, there will be ‘Les Mis,’” said Lili Baran, the musical’s director and the executive director of the Tahoe Players. “We wanted people to watch and connect it with the events going on today, today’s wars and hate and violence.”
Baran’s grandmother formed Tahoe Players in 1989, creating a space where out-of-work musicians could network and job search. These musicians started finding work in the playhouses, expanding the focus and allowing artists of all crafts to participate in Tahoe Players.
The performance also features footage of past protests and riots, giving an authenticity to the viewer’s experience.
“We’re shedding light that nothing has changed,” said Baran. “There is still a great divide between the classes.”
“The actors sound wonderful,” said Beth Macmillian, the executive director of Artown. “They’ve sung at some of the previous events and the crowd loved them. The Nugget has been a great partner and the showroom is absolutely beautiful.”
“Come out and support the local arts,” encouraged Powers.
Performances of “Les Miserables” run Thursday (7/25) through Saturday (7/27) at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m in the Celebrity Showroom at John Ascuaga’s Nugget. Tickets are $25 per person.
For more information about “Les Miserables” and Artown, visit renoisartown.com or call the Artown office at 322-1538. For more information about Tahoe Players and their future performances, visittahoeplayers.com.