Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Les Miserables | Queen's Theatre

Right Photo credit Les Miserables Official

Although this is the 4th time I've seen Les Miserables in London, this is the first time I've had chance to discuss it on this blog. I'm a huge fan of the show- it's one that I can watch time and time again and I still feel the same emotions I felt the very first time. This is the first time I've seen the 2015/16 cast so I was really intruiged to see how they compared with the previous two casts I've seen. I saw one understudy- Adam Pearce as Thenardier- who I will mention later on.

I was sitting in row AA in the Grand Circle, a seat which I've sat in before as it's very reasonably priced and really like. While it's quite a long way from the stage, seeing the show from above means you see the choreography as a whole, as well as some movements you probably wouldn't see from in the stalls (for example people interacting at the back of the stage). I'm not going to go into any detail about the story itself because I presume it's fairly well known but here are my thoughts on some of the actors or moments that really stood out to me this time around. It's quite a long one I'm afraid as it turns out I had quite a lot of thoughts about the performance!

I adore Peter Lockyer as Valjean. Not only does he have a beautiful voice (his Bring Him Home is always superb and gives me shivers) but he just suits the role of Cosette's father so well. After he rescues Cosette in the woods, they walk around the revolving stage singing a variation of the Castle on a Cloud melody and it's always at this point in the show that I fall in love with him as a father- he suddenly becomes so gentle compared to the aggressive Valjean we see previously. I was really excited to see Rachelle Ann Go as Fantine as I loved her as Gigi when I saw Miss Saigon last year and I'm pleased to report that she completely lived up to my expectations. Her voice was so powerful in I Dreamed a Dream so I really felt the anger coming through in her character, which greatly contrasted with Come to Me as she lay dying. Also in the Epilogue where she sings in harmony with Eponine, I really heard her tune coming through which you don't always here against the melody.

When I heard that Adam Pearce would be playing the role of Thenardier at this performance I was thrilled. In the ensemble, he has a very large track and so it showed me just how versatile he can be so I was interested to see how he took on the comedy role of Thenardier. I actually think he gave my favourite performance of Thenardier I've seen. His voice is very rich but he gave it a rough edge and added lots of little asides and high-pitched shrieks that were very entertaining and, rightly so, there was a very loud cheer when he took his bow. Equally I really enjoyed Bradley Jaden as Enjolras. He had a really strong voice and managed to hit all of the high, sustained notes which I know can be very tricky. He also played the character in a way I've not noticed before- while he had the anger that Enjolras requires, he also smiled a lot and put in this idea that Enjolras is very proud of what he's doing and fighting for, something that I thought was refreshing.

Although nothing to do with the actors themselves, I usually find the character of Cosette quite bland. She always has a beautiful soprano voice, but on stage (as opposed to the book) she just doesn't seem to have much depth as a character. Zoe Doano changed this for me however, making the character exciting in a way I've never noticed before. During In My Life there was rapid changes of emotion and clear changes in her thought path which meant that she held my attention fully. Considering she's only been playing the character for two months, I was very impressed with how she defined her character. I've seen Rob Houchen as Marius every time I've seen the show and he just suits the role of Marius so well. I've seen Carrie Hope Fletcher as Eponine twice and really rate her as an actress and a singer. However both of these actors impressed me more than usual this time around, as both of their main songs (Empty Chairs at Empty Tables and On My Own respectively) had a real rawness and edge to them that has developed since I last saw the show in January.

I'm not going to mention all the principal and ensemble members as that would result in an incredibly long post, but as usual the whole cast was very strong and there wasn't a single person that give a fantastic performance. The camaraderie between the Students (or barricade boys as I know them) seemed very genuine but one thing that stood out to me was Jo Parsons portrayal of Grantaire. Having read the book of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo a few years ago, I got a more in depth look at each character and since then Grantaire (and his relationship with Enjolras) is one that has always stood out to me. There was a lovely moment after Grantaire's verse in Drink With Me where Enjolras stood with Grantaire for the majority of the rest of the song talking to him and holding on to him that was really special to me and I'm really glad that Jo and Bradley made such a captivating moment of that.

Phew! That was a lot for me to get out of my head and into words. I didn't go to the stage door after the show this time (I have the previous three times) as I had to get something to eat before seeing the evening performance of Gypsy at the Savoy Theatre, which will have a review up for you very soon so be sure to check back or subscribe to see.

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