based on the novel by Victor Hugo music by Claude-Michel Schonberg lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer original French text by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel.

Barbican Centre Silk Street EC2Y 8DS To 2 October 2010.
Mon-Thu 7.30pm Mat Thu, Sat 2.30pm and Sat 10:30am.
Runs 3hr. One interval.

TICKETS: 020 7638 8891.
Review: Geoff Ambler 25 September.

One more day, twenty five years later.
Billed as the ‘New Smash Hit Production’ and boasting not one but two new directors, the Barbican’s Les Miserables is part of the 25th Anniversary year’s celebration.

‘New’ is probably overegging the marketing a little; ‘Slightly different’ might be more appropriate. Les Mis has lost the revolve and trap-door and gained a lot of projected scenery. Other than that, differences are minor.

Yet a slightly re-imagined Les Mis is no bad thing. Twenty-five years on from the critical panning it initially received this is still one of the most powerful musicals in the West End. Victor Hugo’s epic story spans decades in immense, almost excessive, detail. However the précised production the musical represents captures the novel’s emotions, bringing to vivid life Jean Valjean and the events that shaped his life, in a mere three hours.

A great three hours though, filled with wretched characters, moving stories, stirring songs and a lot of death; the tragic Fantine whose descent into prostitution while trying to support her daughter Cossette is illuminated by two seriously moving songs. The Thenardiers, two clownish, vagabond thieves add much-needed humour, while their daughter, the streetwise and fearless Eponine, discovers love. A bar full of brave, radical students rise to overthrow the government and Javert, Valjean’s ever-present nemesis, proves himself France’s greatest literary lawman.

This production is graced with two of the finest from the many who have taken on these roles. John Owen-Jones and Earl Carpenter as Valjean and Javert are magnificent. Claud-Michel Schonberg’s music is spectacular throughout; rousing anthems like ‘Do You Hear The People Sing?’ and ‘One Day More’ mix with the more emotional, if not downright heartbreaking, ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ and ‘Empty Chairs At Empty Tables’.

Producer Cameron Mackintosh believes his part in Les Miserables will remain one of his proudest achievements. I agree, but it seems that he is certainly adept at producing theatre’s equivalent of the BlueRay directors’ cut special edition, while his VHS version still nestles in the Queens Theatre. But the show in either format is an astonishing, thrilling, moving musical must see.

Jean Valjean: John Owen-Jones.
Javert: Earl Carpenter.
Fantine: Madalena Alberto.
Thenardier: Ashley Artus.
Marius: Gareth Gates.
Cossette: Katie Hall.
Eponine: Rosalind James.
Madame Thenardier: Lynn Wilmot.
Ensemble: David Lawrence, Jonathan Alden, Laura Tebbutt, Victoria Farley, Rhiannon Sarah Porter, Roso O’Reilly, Leigh Rhiannon Coggins, Vanessa Leagh Hicks, Laura Tebbutt, Beth Davies, Carl Mullaney, Ian Caddick, David Covey, Cristopher Jacobsen, Luke Kempner, Adam Linstead, Joanna Loxton, Rhidian Marc, Carl Mullaney, Jamie Muscato, Julie Stark, Owain Williams.

Adaptors: Trevor Nunn, John Caird.
Directors: Laurence Connor, James Powell.
Designer: Matt Kinley.
Lighting: Paule Constable.
Sound: Mick Potter.
Musical Staging: Michael Ashcroft.
Musical Supervisor: Nick Finlow.
Costume: Andreane Neofitou.

2010-09-27 01:32:04

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