Les Miserables Review
I’m only just recovering from my mega stagey birthday weekend with small and noisy. Seeing my two most favourite shows ever in 24 hours has left me on a stagey high and my head is still buzzing, coherent thoughts are virtually non existent
Les mis was first up on the Saturday night. We had some reservations as this was the new, reimagined, updated, revamped etc etc show. Small and noisy particularly was not sure about going as she is a bit of a purist and couldn’t see how you could stage Les Mis without the revolve or the barricades. I had similar reserves but let’s face it Bradley Jaden was in it so that was enough for me to quash any uncertainty!
We were front row, and so close to the stage you could smell the greasepaint, which I love. The opening bars struck up and I got goosebumps instantly. You can tell from the start that this is a reworked production, and it works, it really works. The staging is different and hits you full on from the offset. I have to say I was a bit worried in the beginning when I saw Bradley come on in “that” coat, Michael Ball made it so very much his own, and on Bradley it looked a little big, he didn’t quite fit it. However, the unbuttoned shirt and tight trousers made their appearance in the barricades and you could almost feel the wave of oestrogen rising from the audience, and a fair bit of testosterone too.
This new production is glorious in every sense of the word. Yes, the revolve has gone, but in this production you don’t need it. The lighting carries you through the sewers and creates a sense of movement that I wasn’t expecting. The set has had an upgrade and now the slum houses of Paris are brought to life which lifts the action higher on the stage. The barricade is still there and the pivotal moment with Enjolras, whilst different, is still every bit as heartbreaking and striking. The stage is angled down towards the audience which draws you in and makes it feel much more intimate, even in such a large theatre. You are taken on a journey through Paris in every sense, the barricades, the flags waving, the tragedies, loves and lives are all still there but now they have something new breathed into them.
After seeing Alfie Boe and my utter favourite, John Owen Jones, in the concert I wasn’t expecting to love a new Jean Valjean but wow can Jon Robyns sing! John Owen Jones gave a new meaning to Valjean for me in making “bring him home” a quiet prayer. Jon Robyns showed an astounding level of understanding of the character and the complexities within and his “bring him home” totally did for me. His was a plea to God, he was talking directly to him in a way that reminded me of Andy Nyman’s gorgeous exchanges with God in Fiddler. I almost couldn’t breathe through the song and it’s completely converted me to Robyns. The west end has a new JvJ and my goodness he’s good!
I managed to not cry which thoroughly pleased small and noisy, she’s normally mortified if I start blubbing. I even made it through “Empty Chairs at Empty” tables! That was the only disappointment for us, I love how they’ve staged this with really emotive candles, but for us having no actual tables and chairs felt like something was missing. The song which almost broke me though, surprisingly, was Javert’s suicide. Whilst Bradley initially didn’t command the coat, older Javert was another matter entirely. He has a clear rapport with Jon Robyns and the two of them together are an absolute joy to behold. Bradley has seriously upped his game and the raw emotion he puts into the character really took me by surprise, the battle he has with himself and the inner turmoil over what he has always believed to be right in every nuance was played out in front of us spectacularly. His hair was hanging, his coat undone and we felt every single moment of his pain and suffering. I am seriously biased but I tried to keep a balanced view when it comes to Bradley and it was like seeing a whole new Javert. I thought Michael Ball had nailed him but Bradley has brought something entirely new, gritty and heartbreaking to the role.
Shan Ako was gorgeous as Eponine, let’s face it she has all the good songs and she really makes the most of them. The Thenadiers had a dangerous undercurrent of nastiness to them amongst the jokes, much more so than Matt Lucas and Katy Secombe who played it much more for laughs. I personally prefer the laughs but the Thenadiers were thoroughly unpleasant in the book and this is much more in keeping with how they should be. Carrie Hope Fletcher was, as always, just gorgeous. My only disappointment is that Fantine is not on stage for longer, she dies way too early. Give her one more song at least … please!
The price of ice creams surprised me, only £3 for a lovely salted caramel Hagen Daas, and as always Mr Mackintosh didn’t let us down and has had andrex quilted installed in every toilet! Merch was standard pricing, £6 for a magnet but I was so upset, they had none for sa
Merch was standard pricing, £6 for a magnet but I was so upset, they had none for sale, on my birthday too! Meanies! Both small and noisy and I came away utterly spellbound. We loved every single second of the new Les Mis and it felt like we had seen it from new all over again. The new staging, set design and lighting are stunning. It’s been brought up to date and I hate to say it but seeing it like this has made me realise that I think it needed it. I’ve already booked our next trip and I can’t wait. Best birthday ever, Mr F outdid himself with these tickets, and to top it all off I even got to wear my new Les Mis hoodie
Would I go again, absolutely! If you get the chance to go then do, you will love it, it’s new and fresh and here to stay!