But if a production includes a tight, talented chorus, it's more likely to be a winner every time.
Such is the case with Village Theatre's current production of "Les Miserables," opening Jan. 10 at the Everett Performing Arts Center.
Greg Stone -- the Broadway actor and Lynnwood High School alum who portrays the show's superb Jean Valjean -- says the passionate ensemble is "all in."
No doubt about it. The perfect harmonies and diction, the energetic acting and the variety of roles they present make this a top-notch group.
It's so good you may have to stifle the urge to sing along during the rousing choruses of "Do You Hear the People Sing?" and "One More Day."
Over the years, the Issaquah-based Village Theatre has earned a professional reputation that goes well beyond its community theater beginnings. In fact, nearly half of the Les Miz cast coming to Everett belong to Actors' Equity, the professional union, and many of those people have experiences on New York stages.
As Stone says, the community of professional actors in the Seattle region is growing steadily, and their work is garnering national attention.
The "Les Miserables" to be staged in Everett is as good as any Broadway touring production of the musical to hit Seattle over the years. The musical runs through Feb. 9 here and good seats can still be had.
For those who may have seen the musical at the Palace Theatre in London, where it had its longest run thus far, this is a slightly different "Les Miserables."
Longtime fans of the show will note that a few scenes are more reminiscent of the 2012 movie of the musical, with changes in sets, costumes and staging. All the best is still here, however.
For those who have never seen the musical, the story is based on the novel of the same name by Victor Hugo.
Set in the early 1800s, it is the story of Jean Valjean, a French peasant, who is released from prison after serving years doing hard labor for having stolen a loaf of bread for his sister's starving child.
Valjean breaks his parole and then starts a new life after a bishop inspires him with an act of mercy. Valjean changes his name and starts a company that employs many. He seeks redemption by helping people along the way, but he is relentlessly pursued by a police inspector named Javert.
Valjean and the characters who emerge from the story are swept up a revolutionary period in Paris, where a group of young idealists make a stand against government policies that keep people in poverty.
Directed by Steve Tomkins, with the talented pit orchestra directed by R.J. Tancioco, the Village production showcases good work by many.
Along with Stone as Valjean (look for an interview with Stone in the Jan. 10 issue of A&E), standouts include Eric Polani Jensen as Javert, Steve Czarnecki as the revolutionary leader Enjolras, Matthew Kacergis as Marius. Alexandra Zorn as Cosette and Kirsten deLohr Helland as Eponine.
"Les Miserables" opens Jan. 10, then runs Wednesdays through Sundays through Feb. 9.
Tickets, $28 to $63, are on sale at the Everett Performing Arts Center box office, 2710 Wetmore Ave., online at www.villagetheatre.org/everett/tickets.php, or by calling 425-257-8600.
Village offers a "rush" for students and military with ID, who can buy unsold tickets, if available, for half-price 30 minutes before the curtain.
Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; email@example.com.
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