By Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil. Directed by David Arisco. Through April 5. Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre, 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables; 305-444-9293; actorsplayhouse.org
Truly, the secret to Les Misérables' stunning success is its target demographic. This is theater for people who do not like theater, a musical filled with characters you don't have to get to know, espousing a message you don't have to think about (indeed, which crumbles on contact with anything so formidable as "thought"). Jean Valjean is as tortured and noble in Scene 1 as he'll be in Scene 10,000, and none of the other, lesser characters are any more dynamic. The story is a parable of imperiled decency as facile and shallow as librettist Alain Boublil's tortured rhyme schemes (which, among other sins, frequently finds an actor singing the words "us all" when referring only to himself and one another, for no better reason than that "us all" is an easier rhyme than "us both"). At least the sets are pretty, and at least the singing is good. In fact, David Michael Felty, who plays Valjean, has one of the most awesome voices you'll ever hear. It just keeps going up and up, using a mixed chest-falsetto technique as sweet and creamy as mascarpone, and powerful enough to drown out the ridiculous words being sung by his costars. Brandon K. Thorp
Miami local theater
Through April 5. Miami Improv, 3390 Mary St., Coconut Grove; 305-441-8200; miamiimprov.com
Like a frat boy who's ten years too old and 20 pounds too heavy, Kyle Cease peddles Ritalin-addled, stream-of-consciousness comedy that touches on subjects as varied as septuagenarian nudists, original Nintendo, and the sexual exploits of the Pillsbury doughboy. His rambling, giggle-laced delivery is similar to that of fellow 30-something goofball Dane Cook, but Cease's comic persona is lewder, more manic, and thus funnier. And though he has done some acting for television and movies, the Seattle native's natural craft is stand-up. There, alone in the spotlight, Cease skitters around in a costume of sloppy jeans and a baseball cap, telling jokes, ad-libbing, and ruthlessly heckling the audience. It's a fast-forward performance style, punctuated with expletives and characterized by weird segues from broken sentences into punch lines. To illustrate, here's this Cease-brand quip: "I grew up with my mother, Bambi... But her name's not Bambi. We just call her that 'cause she's a stripper and her mom was killed by a hunter." Naturally, these kinds of scattershot hysterics sometimes lapse into stagy shtick. But, for the most part, Cease proves himself a solid practitioner of tricky meta-raunch, finding laughs in the gaps between one overly complex gag and the next. S. PAJOT
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