By Whitney Pastorek
Updated December 05, 2006 at 05:00 AM EST

The great barricade-building musical has been reorchestrated for a supposed six-month return to Broadway, and anyone possessing more than a passing familiarity with Les Misérables may find themselves freakily disoriented. It’s been slimmed down, and song bits go missing here and there, most notably the second verse of ”Castle on a Cloud” and the chorus of ”Little People” — an almost unforgivable crime. (Basically, the kids get royally screwed, despite Brian D’Addario’s performance of Gavroche on the night EW attended being pretty much the best thing about the whole show.)

For whatever reason — we are big; it’s the Broadway that got small? — the grandeur of Les Miz past is nowhere to be found, leaving what now feels a bit like the musical equivalent of a Taco Bell Express. Which, as several performers are not quite up to their roles — in Daphne Rubin-Vega’s Fantine, we at last discover the unholy combination of Carol Channing and a latter-day Whitney Houston — may be a good thing. In even better news, without all that gaping and sobbing, audiences are at last left with plenty of time to ponder the burning questions buried under all the stacked furniture. Like, why is Javert the only cop in France? If Marius’ friends all died on the barricade, who, exactly, are those people attending his wedding? And if Jean Valjean is really so intent upon escape, might we suggest: Cut the hair, shave the beard? (Tickets: or 212-239-6200)