Les Misérables

Reviewed by Jodie Crawford

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Les Miserables is world famous – it’s a tale that’s been told on all the big stages of the world. You might have seen it before, or seen the film, or listened to the soundtrack. But, if you haven’t yet seen this cast, on this tour – then you absolutely must!

From the moment we took our seats, in the sold out Lowry, we could feel the excitement, the atmosphere, the anticipation. Before we went in I honestly thought I would spend the entire production comparing everything to the West End version I saw a few years ago. How wrong was I? Once the first note was played I was lost in the action, the emotion, the heartbreak, the sheer brilliance of it all.

The set design is one of the first things to impress. There are no compromises where the set is concerned; it’s multi layered digital effects compliment the large structures such as the barricades. How the stage crew fit up this set in different locations on this tour is mind boggling. It looks like it belongs on the Lowry stage, like it was purposely built for it. Special mention to the lighting and projection team – they manage to create the most subtle of mood and atmosphere changes, the sewer scene particularly is very clever and original.

This cast knows how to impress. Every single voice is note perfect, the company numbers like “One More Day” make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

Dean Chisnall’s portrayal of Jean Valjean, is quite simply the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen on stage. His delivery of “Bring him home” was breath taking. The roar from the crowd for him during the curtain call was most deserved.

Marius played by Will Callan was exceptional, and I still cannot believe that this tour is his first professional show. He plays the role with such expertise, his talent is incredible. He is definitely someone to look out for in the future.

Monsieur (Ian Hughes) and Madame (Helen Walsh) Thenardier are hilarious – this is an excellent piece of casting by Paul Wooller and Felicity French.

This show gives us show stopper after show stopper – it takes us on an emotional journey where we are 100% invested in what is to become of our hero Jean Valjean, the villain of the piece, Javert (who is played by the superb Nic Greenshields), and of course, the sweethearts Marius and Cosette. We all gasp as Gavroche is shot and lays lifeless on stage. Many of us ( definitely me) had to wipe away a tear as Epinine (Nathania Ong) lies in Marius’ arms while singing pitch perfectly (as she does in every number). And the finale is the most powerful finale I have seen. The audience were on their feet before the last note was even sung – you could feel the rush and the excitement in the auditorium – it was electric.

The whole cast do not disappoint, they impress over and over again. I have never heard applause like it throughout a performance. And every single clap was richly deserved.

Les Misérables is on at The Lowry until Saturday 23rd April tickets available here.

Les Misérables

Reviewed by Nikki Cotter

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Les Misérables is one of those few tour de force musicals that need no introduction; the buzz surrounding its arrival in Manchester a rare phenomenon. Performances sold out within days while the shows return to the region in May 2020 at the Lowry was announced even before Jean Valjean had uttered ‘24601’ on this current visit; within minutes of the curtain raising at tonight’s performance it becomes abundantly clear why.

While the West End production of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s masterpiece has been running at the Queens Theatre since 1985 it is a newly conceived touring version that has been taking the country by storm since opening in Leicester in November 2018. 

This stunning production first conceived by producer Cameron Mackintosh in 2009 in celebration of the shows 25th anniversary offers a fresh vibrancy which will no doubt recruit a new generation of theatre fans while making devoted fans fall in love with Les Misérables all over again.

Laurence Connor and James Powell’s inspired direction ensures that the almost three-hour duration whizzes by; keeping the audience fully engaged throughout this epic spectacle. There is not one drop in pace nor lull in action. Act I ending with the rousing One Day More perhaps the most epic way to lead into an interval ever.

The biggest change from the current production running in the West end is Matt Kinley’s striking design. Gone is the famous revolve and in its place come vibrant and visually stunning projections; this new design still triggering the heartfelt emotion of the traditional show whilst adding the thrill of a cinematic feel to proceedings.

Kinley’s designs (expertly animated by 59 Productions) are based on Victor Hugo’s original paintings, and offer a new depth and authenticity to the material while Paule Constable lights each scene with atmospheric perfection. Benefitting from this design creativity the scenes in the underground sewers of Paris are outstanding while Javert’s demise is quite simply jaw-dropping.

The journey Killian Donnelly takes us on as Jean Valjean is bursting with gut-wrenching emotion; from embittered convict through to tired elder nearing ultimate redemption his commitment to the role never wavers. His voice is perfection, from the gentle soothing tones during the opening of Bring Him Home to the full-out goosebump-inducing Who Am I? Nic Greenshields is equally convincing as the brooding Javert, commanding in his presence and convincing in his delivery, his stunning performance during Stars receiving one of the biggest applause of the evening.

The Thénardier’s (Sophie-Louise Dann and Martin Ball) comical interludes are an absolute joy, both clearly delighting in their roles and cementing themselves as audience favourites.

Both Katie Hall as Fantine and Tegan Bannister as Eponine break audience hearts with their moving performances while Harry Apps’ emotional delivery of Empty Chairs At Empty Tables convinces further that this is a company for who nothing less than perfection will do.

The inevitable and well-deserved standing ovation confirms the power of this enduring story; combine that with the beauty of its soaring score and the astonishing quality of talent on stage and you quite literally have the perfect piece of theatre. Every person in the ensemble gives their heart and soul to this production and the result is sensational. Epic in its scale and breath-taking in its brilliance. If you only ever see one piece of theatre make it Les Misérables.

On at the Palace theatre until Saturday 30th March, currently sold out but check here for returns otherwise tickets go on general sale for The Lowry on Friday 1st March and can can be purchased here.