Les Miserables still as strong as ever

So, as you all know, and as per my last post, I went to see Les Miserables last night. Last weekend doesn’t really count as tonight’s was the one I had been waiting for. The only minor downside was that we had no Tam Mutu, so Javert was played by James Gant who actually made a perfectly decent policeman.

I had booked front row seats for myself and my friend Jessica, I personally love the front row and I wanted her to be blown away the first time she saw the show live. This was my fifth time seeing this musical, but it still never fails to give me goosebumps. I dont think I’ll ever tire of the orchesta sounding out those first few bars.

Each role is so famous that it is quite difficult to go in without any expectations but to give credit to the cast they each make the roles their own and all offer excellent vocals. I enjoyed Dan Koek’s singing immensely, his Bring Him Home was beautiful and his upper register seemed to come fairly easily to him. Jean Valjean has a huge range to cover and the expected big notes – “Fliiiiiigghht”, “2-4-6-0-waaaaaann” etc – did not disappoint.

Gant was a good replacement for Mutu. There is something about Mutu’s Javert, a presence perhaps, that was slightly lacking for Gant, however I cannot really criticize his performance. Vocally he was strong, wavering a little at opposide ends of the range, but both his suicide and Stars were sung pretty much spot on. He certainly got a huge cheer for both. I am quite happy to watch understudies performing,  it often offers you a different interpretation of a part as well as the chance to see new/less well known but often equally (and occasionally more) talented folk.  

I still rather like the use of the revolve, which is used throughout,  it definitely maximises space and it is ideal for those ‘2-sided’ scenes such as the barricade or the courtyard. Both slow motion and smoke are used to cleverly create effects (I personally enjoyed Niall Sheehy’s slow-motion forward roll). The barricade is cleverly put together,  the runaway cart is effective and although a majority of the show is dark (dark streets, dark set, not exactly cheerful content) it would be wrong to add more colour than just the costumes, and of course the red flags. It also adds more of a contrast for the scenes involving the Thenardiers, the only comic relief of the piece and a most welcome one.  

Cameron Blakely has been playing the grotty innkeeper for many years and as expected his portrayal is hilarious. Wendy Ferguson (Madame Thenardier) is much newer to her role but you would never guess. Both are vulgar and conniving but deliver the comedy aspect flawlessly,  very important in these characters and they make a most enjoyable partnership to watch.  

Anton Zetterholm plays a strong Enjolras, his voice has the strength that the role requires. I feel that sometimes Enjolras, or rather his voice (I do not mean Zetterholm here, rather a general comment) can be a little weak and is therefore a bit lost, which as the leader of the students is not ideal, particularly when he burats in during One Day More. Occasionally Zetterholm’s accent comes through, but on the whole I was impressed by him. I do also really want to see his cover, Niall (one of my interviewees) in the role so fingers crossed another trip will be on the cards soon.  

There has been much speculation over Carrie Fletcher playing Eponine – why was she cast, will she be any good, etc, you name it, it’s all been asked. But I can definitely say that she makes a likeable, passionate and strong Eponine, her voice is powerful and her death is heartbreaking. It was great to finally see her play the role she has wanted for so long, and two fingers to all doubters because Miss Fletcher is brilliant as the tragic (at least, I always think she’s a tragic character) Eponine.

The ensemble are all – as you would expect – very together, well rehearsed and they make the most fabulous sound.  one Day More has always been a favourite of mine and I literally had shivers down my spine during this. The students were excellent,  most notably Grantaire (played by Adam Linstead) as he plays the most convincing drunkard and several times really made me chuckle. Of course I enjoyed also seeing ‘the many faces of Niall’ too, and Gavroche was, as always, a confident young lad. Les Miserables always has remarkably talented children, the Cosette seemed particularly tiny but still very competent.

I’ve never been a fan of Cosette, Marius or Fantine really, (though Michael Ball set an exceptionally high standard for Marius), so I dont have a huge deal to say about them, they all sang well enough (and I way preferred Samantha’s voice to Amanda Seyfried’s in the movie).  

It is really no surprise that this show has been running for so many years. The score still sounds as fresh as ever, the story in many ways still relevant. I guess I am a bit predictable but it truly is one of my favourite shows for so many reasons. Everybody should see this show (and I don’t mean the film) at least once. It is fair to say that the film has raised more interest, and to some extent I think Carrie being in it has also heightened the show’s profile again. Tonight’s audience seemed to consist of a lot of foreigners,  but in all honesty, the wider the audience the longer the production will run. My next visit wont be after such a long gap, that’s for sure. In fact, I am already planning it….

Keep Dreaming,
Naomi xx

Apologies for the formatting, this was done on my phone.

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