by Marc Wheeler
“Are you sure you wanna sing this song?! Russell Crowe sang it in the movie and ruined the whole thing!”
“I am Javert!” (Insert cheers from the crowd as they toss one down the hatch). “Fuck Russell Crowe!”
And we’re off, bitches.
Clearly this isn’t your grandmother’s “Les Misérables.” In fact, it’s #NotLesMis, or in the words of the 70-year-old woman in front of me who couldn’t stop laughing at the purposeful mispronunciation of Cosette as Corvette, “I didn’t know it was a comedy!”
Oh, but it is. And we’re also in a bar drinking with a bunch of theater queens — and suddenly it all makes sense.
“Les Mis” is finally getting the wink-wink, nudge-nudge treatment you didn’t even know you wanted thanks to writer/director/Enjolras (oh my!) Nicholas Rubando.
For those of you who’ve no idea what I’m talking about… why are you reading this?
“Thénardiers Inn,” now wrapping its sold out Hollywood Fringe Festival run (with nearly-confirmed rumors of an extension!) is a delightful, raucous treat for its target audience — alcoholics. Kidding — “Les Mis” fans. That being said, even virgins and those marginally acquainted will have no trouble following along as Master of the House himself — “Les Mis” comic relief innkeeper Thénardier (Nathan Ondracek) –narrates Victor Hugo’s 1862 epic tale of stolen bread as told by way of 1980s musical.
The cast does mostly solid work bringing this experiment to life. A few weaker links in the bunch are balanced out with a few stronger, most notably Bette Davis bright-eyed Lauren Byrd and her dazzling vocals as Corvette… Cornet… Cosette… (whatever)… as well as powerhouse Michael Thomas-Visgar as 24601 Jean Valjean and hilarious booming baritone Lee Marshall (director) as ambiguously gay, wanna-get-in-Valjean’s-jeans Javert — wait, what?! (Finally, the world’s longest man-chase in musical theater history makes sense. You’re welcome).
As far as jokes and ever-evolving improv, it’s definitely hit and miss — luckily the hits outweigh. Audience participation (whether your like it or not — watch your purses ladies, and laps fellas!) makes for many laughs. Costumes are gorgeous and period-appropriate. And ever-flowing booze from the bar staff makes this “Les Mis” unlike all others.
Musical direction by “pec-tacular-Marius” Dan Sugi. Tech by Julia Lisa. Produced by Creating Arts Studios.
At the end of the day, if taking the piss yet honoring the score is your castle on a cloud, there’s no need to dream any dreams — your revolution is here. So get your tix now before they sell out. They’ll be no empty chairs or empty tables.
The Three Clubs cocktail lounge
1123 Vine St, Los Angeles, CA 90038
Running time: 130 mins
Fringe – Sold out.
Just extended. New dates, times and address to be announced.
Official site: Thénardiers Inn | Creating Arts Studios