Is 5 stars the limit?
What can you say? Les Mis in London. Unbelievable experience.
An Asian Cosette was unexpected but she was wonderful.
The girl who played Eponine was probably the strongest voice in the cast. Thenardier, obviously, stole the show as the comedic relief.
Excellent cast from top to bottom.
I've seen many plays on Broadway in NYC and wanted to make Les Mis my introduction to London's West End. SO glad I did. Probably the highlight of my trip.
Tip: At the Queen's Theatre the back rows have somewhat obstructed views. Only a couple of scenes were slightly impacted -- and only for a moment. I don't often like sitting too close for live theatre but will be cautious to choose an unobstructed view when I return to this venue in the future.
Tip #2: The first act is quite long. My poor date, who drank a fair amount of wine before the performance and announced she needed to go to the restroom just as the lights dimmed and the orchestra began signaling the beginning of the performance, was in torture waiting for the first intermission.
As the film version of Les Miserables is about to hit the big screen, I thought it an appropriate time to review the longest running theatre musical in London
Adapted from Victor Hugo's book, the show originally opened in Paris but its spiritual home is really in London where it has now been running continuously for 27 years. To me, its true home is at the Palace Theatre where I saw it for the first time though it has since moved to the Queen's Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue
Be warned though. This isn't a light-hearted relaxing musical. Come expecting to have your emotions put through the wringer, to have to concentrate to follow the story and the different characters, to live with, laugh with and lose some of the characters that paint this turbulent period in 19th century French history
You will be rewarded for your efforts with thoughts, emotions, and memories that will stay with you long after you've left the theatre. However, the wonderful thing for me were the strong musical tunes and phrases playing in my mind for weeks, making this a true musical in my book unlike some of the modern musicals which are great in the theatre but you can't remember a single tune immediately after the show
There is something for everyone in the music from heart-breaking ballads such as On My Own and A Little Fall of Rain through whimsical interludes like Master of the House to uplifting choruses like Do You Hear the People Sing?
The story revolves around the life of ex-convict Jean Valjean, who escapes and is hunted for decades by the ruthless policeman Javert. The main part of the story takes place amongst the ultimately unsuccessful students' revolution which pre-dated the French Revolution
I love the clever use of the rotating circular stage and props to take us around settings ranging from a brothel to the barricades. You are truly transported into another land for those few hours of the show
Les Miserables is a true classic and if the film is anywhere near as good as the musical, it will be a must see film
Great seats (Paid for the fancy seats and worth every penny or is it pence)
Forgot to bring tissues so I had to cry into the hard bathroom paper towels :)
The poor guy next to me also forgot his tissues and he needed them more than I did ;)
Well, I may be a bit biased as this is my favourite musical of all time but it is always worth a visit. I've been at least 6 times!!
Les Miserables celebrated it's 25th Anniversary in 2010 making it one of the longest running musicals in the West End with world wide acclaim. It has been through lot since it opened in London in 1985, and if you area fan of the early recordings you will notice that the more classical/legit vocal style that was rife in the cast has evolved somewhat to incorporate the newer modern belt technique, especially amongst the the female lead characters. Some of the drama has also changed with the release of the 25th Anniversary version. But it is nontheless a profoud piece of theatre and will leave you with a lot of soggy tissues and a real sense of redemption.
Loosely based on the Victor Hugo novel of the same name, Les Miserables follows the life of Jean Valjean (Bring Him Home), a convict who had been jailed for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his family. In a bid to change his life he changes his name and builds a new to a back drop of the people's uprising of the French Revolution, whilst being hunted down by the infamous Inspector Javert who believes it his calling from God to deliver justice (Stars). Alongside these 2 huge, all encompassing characters we meet Eponine (On My Own), a young street dweller who is in love with the student Marius, a young man fighting for the people. Marius in turn falls in love with Jean Valjean's ward Cosette, daughter of Fantine (I Dreamed a Dream).
As revolution dawns and Javert gets ever closer to catching Jean Valjean, Jean Valjean must endeavour to pursue the life he has chosen, protecting his loved ones and dreaming of his own redemption.
With a recent cast change in the Queen's Theatre, Les Mis still stands strong as a leading musical in the West End. The music is strong, if not in all it's symphonic glory with a reduced band accompanying the cast since its move from The Palace Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue, but it will still move you. Light relief is made through the ever enigmatic characters of Monsieur and Madame Thenardier (and I can highly recommend the current Mme Thenardier as she is my teacher!!) It certainly should not be missed if you have not seen it before, and if you have, go back again to be moved and inspired.
Until January 2011, I was pretty much a Les Mis virgin. I knew practically nothing about it, except that a couple of good friends adored the show. Adored may actually be a bit of an understatement. Obsessed may be a better word. I knew a few songs from when they sang them randomly at Karaoke, but pretty much the only thing I knew about it was the quote that Darius made in the movie "Jeffrey":
"Yes, I am in CATS. Now and forever. The way I see it, I was too young for Chorus Line, and too 'happy' for Les Mis. I never did get that show. It's about a guy, who steals a loaf of bread, and then suffers for the rest of his life. For toast! Get over it. "
That's all I knew. Stealing a loaf of bread and suffering. Well when one of my obsessive friends was visiting, she decided that the four of us (her, me, my partner, and her future partner that we introduced on New Year's Eve) should go and see it. I'm always up for seeing musicals, so they got the tickets and we went.
I'm watching it. The music is quite good. The story is complex. And when I say complex, I mean complicated. And when I say complicated, I mean extremely complicated. The musical is all plot. I had actually never seen anything like it. Most musicals there's plot and song and it's fairly easy to follow. Not true for Les Mis. At the intermission, I turn to everyone and say, "WHAT the hell is going on?"
We finish the show. I'm still confused. I'm not sure about my feelings for the show. It's complex and complicated, and there's a lot of plot. So I think about it the next day. I also have the songs running through my head. I think about it again the following day. And I'm singing the songs. Three days later, while I'm STILL thinking about the show, I realize that if any show can make me think so much about it days after seeing it, there's something special there.
We bought the soundtrack. It prompted me to start reading Les Mis (because hey, it was free on the Kindle) on my trip to Saint-Emilion. A lot of people thought I was crazy for trying to read it. I did. Any musical that can make me read a 1000+ page novel where the entire beginning of the book is about a character that has about five pages of actual plot points, where there are pages about how the Paris sewage system works, and where there are many, many pages about the battle of Waterloo and how Napoleon could have won but in no way could have won clearly must be magical.
If you only see one musical in London, see this one.
Les Miserables was the very first theatrical production I watched in London - and the first I'd seen since the age of 14. I somehow managed to get a seat in the center of the second row, which just made the experience that much more captivating. Having such a clear and close-up view of everyone's expressions was absolutely breathtaking.
Everyone performed spectacularly... every gesture seemed so natural, so full of heart.. and their voices.. oh, their voices.
The stage was set up beautifully and paired with the use of light and smoke - it made every scene seem as complete as you could ever expect from a theatre.
I wonder how much of it has changed since 1980.
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