Friday 5 February 2016

Theatre Review: Les Misérables at Queen's Theatre, London

Les Misérables, the world's longest-running musical, and probably my favourite musical. It was the first 'serious' musical I saw (excluding the likes of Disney classics High School Musical and Camp Rock) and it really kickstarted my love for theatre.

My first experience of Les Misérables was in 2010, tagging along with some friends to see the 25th-anniversary concert streamed live to our local cinema. Unfortunately for me, the 25th-anniversary show was more of a concert than an actual musical, meaning a lot of the explanations were lost. As Les Misérables isn't always the easiest to follow at the best of times, I'll readily admit I was pretty lost by the time the interval came around. Still, that didn't matter, because the songs and the music captivated me. From the soaring score to the incredible cast, from that day on I was hooked. (And I'm still yet to find a Valjean I prefer more than Alfie Boe).

Since then I re-watched the 25th anniversary concert DVD multiple times, watched the 2012 movie version (I am one of the few people who didn't wholeheartedly dislike Russell Crowe as Javert) and read Victor Hugo's original novel.

My first time seeing Les Misérables in person was back in 2012 when I got tickets to see it at Queen's Theatre for my 18th birthday. In short, I was blown away. The cast, the set, and of course that music, were even more impressive live. Even better, I got to see the fantastic Hadley Fraser as Javert - he remains my favourite Javert to this day.

I loved it. But being a student meant there was no way I could afford to go and see it again any time soon. However, four years on, I decided it was high time I took another visit to Queen's Theatre. So I booked tickets, and come February 3rd, I was off to London to experience it once again.

And let me tell you - it didn't disappoint!

Seeing it for a second time allowed me to really take in the details and appreciate the artistry a lot more. For such a complex story, the set is comparatively simple. Nothing is there that doesn't absolutely have to be there, so it's uncluttered, really making you focus on the action.

The music keeps the story alive

However, it's the music that has kept the story alive for so long. The songs sound so much better performed by a live orchestra, sweeping you up in the moment and making you feel the emotions of the characters. It's so difficult to pick a favourite song (I have so many from the musical as a whole) but on the night there were a few stand-out moments for me.

One was Carrie Hope Fletcher playing Thenardier's daughter Eponine. Wanting to see Carrie in this role before her run finished was a major part of deciding to go when I did. And just as well, because she was an excellent Eponine. Her rendition of On My Own was a definite highlight!

However, there was one person who really stole the show. Gavroche, the ever-cheery urchin boy who gets caught up in the revolution at the barricade. I'm not sure which of the three young actors was playing Gavroche in the performance I saw, but whoever it was, you really have to give him credit for stealing the show in such a small role with so many big names around.

The second time around, Les Misérables was just as good. I hope to be back for a third time soon!

You can find ticket information and buy tickets on the official website.

Have you seen Les Misérables? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

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