Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews


Les Miserables

Cameron Mackintosh , Wales Millennium Centre , November 29, 2019
Les Miserables  by Cameron Mackintosh And sing they did in this excellent, world renown ‘ sung through’ Music Theatre adaptation of Victor Hugo’s great novel by Alain Boublil and Claude Michel Schönberg. The central character Jean Valjean is acted and sung with both power and sensitivity by Dean Chisnall; like all the members of this cast, a joy to watch.

We meet him as he is being released from his jail sentence for stealing a piece of bread to feed a starving child. The stealing habit seems to remain with him as he steals silver from the Bishop of Digne. Aaron Pryce-Lewis gives us a warm hearted and kindly Bishop, giving Valjean the opportunity to get his life started again.

He has changed his name, now Monsieur Madeleine; a highly respected factory owner and the town’s mayor. The dynamic and full-voiced chorus adapt to many roles as the story progresses. Here they are unemployed and factory workers, “At The End of the Day”.

Factory girl Fantine is dismissed. Katie Hall gives us a beautiful and thoughtful performance in song and personality and tells us “I Dreamed a Dream”. But reality soon sets in. Her gorgeous, long, blond hair is cut off and sold by “Lovely Ladies “ a group of prostitutes. Fantine has to join them so as to have money to feed her child.

She starts to fight with a ‘client’. A burly policeman, Javert comes to arrest her. A fine, suitable ‘burly’ performance from Nic Greenshields. The mayor arrives and insists that Fantine is taken to hospital, not to prison.

Later he visits her and she is dying, very movingly they sing together “Come to Me”. Valjean tells her he will look after her daughter, Cosette. She is lodged with the Thénardiers. They abuse her, nevertheless Ian Hughes and Helen Walsh give us a wonderfully funny and captivating performance every time they appear.

The Thénardiers daughter, Eponine is given a very effective performance by Frances Mayli McCann. She is in love with Marius, another compelling singing voice from Felix Mosse but Marius is in love with the now grown Cosette. It all works out OK in the end.

The set designs, by Matt Kinley are a series of animated fine art. They are in fact inspired by paintings by Victor Hugo and wonderfully enhanced by the dynamic lighting of Paule Constable .

The orchestra under the excellent direction of Ben Atkinson play wonderfully and respond perfectly to every nuance of the narrative. They make an exciting big sound to drive this big show along.

The barriers for the rebellion are built under the leadership of Enjolras acted with magnificent verve and strength from Barnaby Hughes and we “…. ..Hear the People Sing

We did hear them sing, the wonder of it raised the hairs on the back of our necks. I am sure I detected some tears around us.

Directors Laurence Connor and James Powell ensured that they gave us a work of theatre art. A work of the highest standard always associated with all Cameron Mackintosh’s productions.

The total standing ovation occurred the moment the curtain covered the stage. There was no doubting everyone in the audience had an amazing experience.

Les Misérables continues at The Wales Millennium Centre
until 4th January

Reviewed by: Michael Kelligan

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