On Tuesday evening, I went down to the Queen’s Theatre to see Les Misérables, currently starring Alfie Boe as Jean Valjean, and Matt Lucas as Thénardier.
Whilst I’ve ADORED this musical for many-a-year, I must also admit that it was thanks to seeing both in the O2 25th Anniversary concert that made me finally decide to plump and see the Queen’s production – especially having already seen the Barbican touring production, which, I was told by many, was far superior in comparison…!
However, I have to say that, on reflection, I found a lot of the memes kicked around by my fellow West End Wendies seemed to be rather exaggerated… nothing looked particularly tired or shabby, and whilst the revolve did get a little tiresome at times, and the Javert end scene really doesn’t work, I thought the staging remained inspired for its requirements, and it was particularly fun to see dead or maimed people constantly whizzing by you several times at substantial speeds hehe!!!
I should add that the production has recently taken a small three-day breather, just before cast change, to facilitate the introduction of a new state-of-the-art surround sound system, and also the building of a larger orchestra pit to facilitate the now larger orchestra, in turn needed to be able to play some of the newly introduced scoring, brought in from the 25th Anniversary production.
The musical is, of course, fantastic, and you may find my review of the Barbican (25th Anniversary touring) production more to your liking if you want more of a discussion of the show… this is going to be a significantly shorter post, touching on the current casting at the Queen’s (though I will say, fourth row back, centre stalls, whoop us!! Heh).
Alfie Boe’s Jean Valjean is, simply, second only to Colm Wilkinson’s… It is absolutely world-class in my opinion! His opera voice lends itself to the role magnificently, and boy oh boy can he act – I was reduced to tears by the end!!
Matt Lucas is absolutely my all time favourite Thénardier…. he brings SO much to the role… some of it delightfully subtle, other bits so overblown and absurd that you cannot help giggling manically. I don’t think there was a moment that I wasn’t smiling when he was present on stage heh. He and Katy Secombe (Madame Thénardier) make the perfect gruesome twosome! 😀
Alexia Khadime makes for a great Eponine, but I did prefer her in Wicked, if I am honest. Of course, with such a vocal powerhouse, you don’t have to worry about On My Own, as you just know from the outset that this will be one of the songs that will absolutely knock it out of the park for you when it comes, and gosh, that it did!
I may get booed for saying it, but I was less of a fan of Caroline Sheen’s Fantine and her version of I Dreamed A Dream… but I DO rate her as a fabulous musical theatre star, nonetheless.
Despite having seen a number of people perform this song, I’ve yet to actually see/hear someone on stage who can match the undeniable vocal of Ruthie Henshall (see below, from 10th Anniversary concert) – as, for me, it needs a much older and world wizened lady in the role than the creative team ever seem to cast on stage these days…
Having just said that, and after seeing the 25th Anniversary Concert, I have to say, Lea Salonga actually nails this song COMPLETELY and reduces me to tears every time, proving that a more delicate/vulnerable and less jaded version of the song can work just as well!
Given the two extremes in interpretation, I find it a little strange that these are the only two versions of the song that I can say that I actually enjoy. Despite it being covered an infinite number of times – these are the only two to evoke any kind of emotion from me, and the only two versions where the actors really seem to be emotionally invested in the song.
Anyway, I digress! 😛
I’d also like to call out Scott Garnham who makes an EXCELLENT Enjolras (he is the understudy for Liam Tamne) and don’t even get me started on Hadley Fraser’s Javert – which was super SUPER amazing, and, as always, produced goosebumps (I am perhaps a little biased, as this is, without doubt, my favourite role out of anything in musical theatre hehe).
All in all, an absolutely fantastic production; the current all-star (and phenomenally accomplished cast) make this summer a PERFECT time to go and see Les Misérables… I cannot imagine a workable ‘dream team’ that I would want to see more! 😀
Les Mis is currently playing at the Queen’s Theatre, London and is running, well, forever…..!! (yaaaay).
Alfie Boe will play the role of ‘Jean Valjean’ until 26 November 2011 and Matt Lucas will play the role of ‘Thénardier’ until 10 September 2011.
The show is a bum-numbing three hours long and you may find yourself singing ‘One SONG More’ at the end of Act One, if you are anything like me hehe!! The toilet situation at the theatre is a little grim, expect to queue for a long time, and that’s just the men…!
Tickets for the show can be booked, and more information sought, via the production’s official website.