Zachary Scott Theater delivers Les Misérables with fantastic stage presence

Blasting the Les Misérables soundtrack while driving with two other friends was for once a totally acceptable thing to be doing. I mean, I had to mentally prepare myself for finally getting to see one of my favorite musicals live. No, I wasn’t driving cross-country to the glamorous New York City to Broadway. I would have to have the soundtrack on multiple replays if that were the case. Instead, and more practically, I was making my way downtown to the local Zachary Scott Theater to see Austin’s own production of the musical. In fact, we only got to hear five Les Misérables tracks before arriving in the theater’s parking lot.

Excitement and anticipation had me almost falling out of my seat while I waited for the curtain to rise. Flipping through the program, I considered all the greatness that this particular cast had to live up to. Les Misérables is the world’s longest running musical, a winner of more than 100 international awards and has been performed in 42 different countries. I had seen the movie a whopping three times in theaters and read about a fourth of the monstrous book. So basically the Zachary Scott Theater cast had the weight of the Broadway production’s success and me, the tough fangirl critic’s opinions, on its shoulders. No pressure.

As the curtain rose, the pit orchestra played the familiar start of the iconic song One Day More in its overture. This song isn’t fully performed until the end of Act I, but it still got me excited and focused forward to the stage where the musical was beginning. Throughout Act I, the actors did an unbelievable job of showing the feelings of the poverty-stricken people during the time of the Student Revolution in France. These raw emotions included despair, sickness and a hint of patriotism still within their hearts. Another aspect of the first act that I found exemplary was the ability of the young children actors. The young Cosette actress sang her Castle on a Cloud solo with the skills of a professional.

When the music stopped and the lights came on, the first act was over and it was time for a short intermission. After enduring the long women’s restroom line, and noting the comparably short men’s restroom line, I headed back just in time for the second act. The second act is when tragedy strikes. A great aspect I noted during the dramatic second act is that having this production in a smaller theater was a plus. Zachary Scott Theater is only meant to hold 230 audience members. Because of this, the production was very detail oriented. You could see the sadness in Cosette’s eyes as she watched her adopted guardian die, the persistence in the characters defending their barricade from unwanted enemies and the happy waves and smiles from the actors who were encouraged by loud clapping directly before the final curtain dropped.

Although this was no traveling Broadway production, Zachary Scott Theatre’s local actors did an incredible job. My high expectations for this production were met and exceeded. I, the critical fangirl, was very happy that my first experience of seeing Les Misérables live was unforgettable. As my friends and I drove away from the parking lot, I pressed the play button and the soundtrack started playing right where it left off from earlier. We began to sing along to Do you hear the people sing? except we couldn’t really hear the people singing the songs of angry men due to our own excited and off-key voices.