Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Les Miserables the Musical: Theatre Review

On October 3rd 2011, Les Miserables celebrated its 26th anniversary making it the longest running musical in the West End. With the show having been performed in numerous places around the world it has also been translated into twenty one languages and performed in thirty eight countries.

The story follows Jean Valjean who is sentenced to 19 years in prison for stealing some bread. 

On his release he is taken in for the night by a Bishop who feeds him and provides him with shelter for the night, Jean Valjean gets up in the night and steals from him. He gets caught but the Bishop assures the authorities that they were a gift and he didn't steal them. The Bishop then tells Jean Valjean that he will have to change his ways because God has given him a second chance. Jean Valjean then takes on a new name and makes a new life for himself; he becomes a very successful business man and adopts a child, Cosette, who was given to him by her mother Fantine. Fantine was fired from her job because she was supporting a child who lived with two carers, she turns to prostitution but is saved by Jean Valjean and her dying wish is to have Cosette taken in by Jean Valjean in his care. Jean Valjean has to pay the two pub landlords who have used all the money they have received from Fantine on their own daughter, Eponine, to take Cosette off their hands.
Cosette grows up to be a beautiful young woman but she and Jean Valjean can't leave the house often as Javert, an inspector, is still haunting Jean Valjean from when he broke his parole. When walking through Paris Cosette bumps into a boy, Marius, and they instantly fall in love. Eponine doesn't realise that it's the child who lived with her and used as a slave and is distraught when the love of her life, Marius, falls for Cosette. Eponine is used as a massager between Marius and Cosette but because she loves him she does it anyway. The revolution comes upon them and when Eponine comes to the barricade to see Marius for which might be the last time she gets shot. The battle gets in full swing and most of them die in the fight. When Javert is saved from execution at the barricade by Jean Valjean he commits suicide by jumping off a bridge. Marius gets saved by Jean Valjean and then marries Cosette.After the marriage Jean Valjean dies from old age. So that's the story in a nutshell (Believe it or not!).

The show sounds very depressing and dull but its uplifting and is a beautiful piece of theatre. The design was good, especially the Barricade. The score was beautiful; the iconic songs are still as alive as ever. The cast were also good; Jean Valjean was Christopher Jacobsen who was wonderful.
He plays the role very well and his vocals were astounding, I think his interpretation was spot on. Understudies were also on for Marius and Enjolras who were played by Fra Fee and Scott Garnham. Fra Fee and a beautiful voice and played a young but experienced looking Marius which was lovely to see as he brought so much character to the role, and the exact same can be said about Scott Garnham who played Enjolras with passion and strive through out.
Hadley Fraser as Javert was great, he played the role with great strength and the contrast between him and Jean Valjean was fantastic. Cameron Blakely as Thenardier was a brilliant comedy relief, along with Katy Secombe who played Madame Thenardie who was fantastic! Had me in hysterics when ever she was on!
Caroline Sheen was good as Fantine, nice voice but for me when Fantine sings she is showing her pain and when Caroline sang she was very soft in her vocals, but still a good performance. Lisa-Ann Wood was exquisite as Cosette, vocals were beautiful and played a pretty, innocent Cosette who was a pleasure to watch.
Alexia Khadime was brilliant as Eponine, her bold voice was a lovely addition to the cast and added a nice variety aspect to the cast. The ensemble were also brilliant, the big numbers like 'One Day More' and 'At the End of the Day' were incredible.
The show is still a good asset to the West End and I'm sure it'll run for years and years, it may need a little bit of a re-modelling as the production does seem to be getting a little tired but its still good. A recommendation to all musical theatre fans and non musical theatre fans. Its a beautiful piece of theatre with a wonderful score.

Rating: ***

Les Miserables is currently playing at the Queens Theatre

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