Did I dream a dream or was this really a masterpiece?!
On Monday the 28th of October I went to the staged concert version of Les Miserables and oh my god it was a masterpiece, there is no other way to describe how good it was. It starred Alfie Boe as Jean ValJean, Michael Ball as Javert, Matt Lucas as Thenadier and Carrie Hope Fletcher as Fantine. I cannot stress how amazing a thing it was to be able to witness!
If you know musical theatre chances are you know or have seen some version of Les Miserables, I saw the original production for the first time back in February, which I loved but this production was 100% times better than that if that could even be possible?! The all-star cast didn’t need any big stage props or surprises, the set was simple yet effective. Similar to the production of Evita at Regents Park I saw this summer, all the glamour of Les Miserables was stripped back and they had to rely on their vocals…which were extraordinary. I am so glad I got to see this masterpiece… let’s dive into it!
First up is the incredible Alfie Boe as Jean Valjean. We weren’t expecting Alfie to be on so we were all thrilled to see him at the stage door before the show. I had seen Alfie portray Jean in the DVD of the 25th Anniversary Concerts they did at the O2 but had never seen him live before. Let me just tell you…WOW!! He was phenomenal as Jean ValJean! His vocal range is huge, he can manage the super low notes but also the super high notes. His version of Bring Him Home was stunning, it was the best version of the song I’ve heard. Jean ValJean’s other big song is called Who Am I, Alfie blew the roof off the theatre with this song. Another standout moment has got to be The Confrontation between him and Michael Ball’s Javert, It was really something special, they both had incredible voices and everyone in the audience was in awe as they watch these two incredible performers battle it out. In the musical Jean ValJean plays dad to Cosette – Fantine’s Daughter, after Fantine dies. I thought Alfie and Lily had a really great Father/Daughter bond within the show. Overall I was so happy I got to see Alfie’s Jean ValJean Live because it was flipping incredible!
You can’t have Jean ValJean without Javert and the amazing performer that is Michael Ball was portraying Javert! Michael originated the role of Marius in the original London production – which was also his West End Debut. He was an excellent Javert! His version of Stars was one of the standout moments, he just sang it so so well! His vocals were so smooth during that song which made it sound even better; he also had amazing vocals during Javert’s Suicide. I had heard mixed things about him as Javert going into this but I personally loved him! He made Javert much more of an interesting character rather than a 2D one that other portrayals might have. He was great against Alfie Boe’s Jean, It was tense whenever they had scenes together, such as the above-mentioned Confrontation and the scene in the sewers. It was great to witness. Whilst Javert isn’t exactly a lovable character, I thought Michael excelled in the role. Can’t wait to see him in a completely different role to Javert when I see him as Edna in Hairspray in May.
Up next we have Carrie Hope Fletcher in the role of Fantine. This was my first time seeing Carrie in a role and let me tell you, she is an incredible performer. I adored her as Fantine. Carrie had previously played both Young Eponine and Older Eponine. I had heard her sing On My Own in performances that are now online like West End Live etc, but this was her first time playing Fantine so I didn’t know what she would sound like in the role but WOW!! Her performance of I Dreamed A Dream was breathtaking! I had never heard such an incredible version of that song. I really wish she could have had a longer part, I adore Fantine’s character anyway so I wish they could all have a much bigger part but I could watch Carrie’s Fantine for hours, she had such great stage presence which shone through! Can you tell I loved her Fantine?!
The last of the super big names is Matt Lucas in the role of Thenardier – the comic relief role, he excelled in this role! Apparently he was super nervous for this role but he really didn’t need to be! He was incredible, he always got huge applause whenever he had been on. He had previously played the same role at the Queens Theatre (Now the Sondheim) and also played him in the 25th Anniversary concerts at the o2. I adored him as Thenardier, he was hilarious and fit the role so so well. I loved his performances during Master of the House and then again in the song Beggars at the Feast. He was truly an amazing Thenardier and I wish that we could get a professionally recorded CD of him in the role! It’s something everyone needs to witness!
Joining Matt was Katy Secombe who was reprising her role as Madame Thenardier. Katy had previously played Madame Thenardier opposite Matt back in 2012 at the Queens Theatre, she then came back in 2015 for the 30th Anniversary shows. As she had worked with Matt before it makes sense that they had amazing onstage chemistry together. They worked so well together – especially in the song Master of the House, I mentioned it above but it was just so so good! She had great vocals, they were exactly how I imagine Madame Thenardier to be! She was hilarious and I’m so glad I got to witness her Madame Thenardier!
Following on from the adult characters we have the younger characters/students
First up we have Lily Kerhoas who played the adult version of Fantine’s daughter, Cosette. Lily played Cosette gorgeously, she was innocent and soft. Her vocals were lovely and floaty which are vocals I personally love. After watching a youtube video on why Cosette is an underrated character, I have found a new love for Cosette and Lily’s portrayal definitely represented my favourite things about Cosette which is her positivity about everything her character had been through already in her life. As I mentioned Lily had incredible vocals which were highlighted in the songs In My Life and a Heart Full of Love, they were gorgeous and I just wanted more of them! Would love a fully solo Cosette song! I really liked Lily’s portrayal and I am so glad she is carrying on in the role at the Sondheim Theatre after the concert finishes.
Next, we have Rob Houchen who played Cosette’s love interest, Marius. Whilst Marius isn’t my favourite of the students, I did like Rob’s portrayal of this love-struck and courageous character. His version of Empty Chairs at Empty Tables was heartbreaking; you felt the sadness of how Marius was feeling project from Rob into your soul. He gave off great hopeless romantic vibes at the end of act 1 as well as being like a puppy who had just been given a new toy and couldn’t think of anything else better to be with than this toy…or in Marius’ case Cosette. Speaking of I think he and Lily had great chemistry and I couldn’t help but smile at the scene where they get married!
Whilst Marius may be in love with Cosette, he is blind to his friend Eponine, who is in love with him. Eponine has always been my favourite character in Les Miserables and Shan’s Eponine was no different, she was incredible. Her vocals were stunning, they were less operatic than Lily’s but I think that suits Eponine perfectly to show the contrast between their characters. Shan could not only sing amazingly but she was excellent at acting through song, On My Own was done so so well. She really told the story about being in love yet not being noticed. Marius did notice her but not until it was too late and she was dying in his arms – the duet they sing whilst Eponine was dying broke my heart, Shan and Rob sang it so wonderfully, so whilst it sounded amazing you were having your heart ripped out. Shan was an incredible Eponine and I am so glad I go to witness it!
Next, we have Marius’ friend Enjloras played by Bradley Jaden who I saw earlier in the year at the Queens theatre when he was playing Javert. Whilst I loved his Javert I ADORED him as Enjloras, especially when he was singing Do You Hear The People Sing – he sang it with such strong vocals that I was ready to join the revolution, same goes for Red and Black. He just had this leadership quality that oozed off him. I loved his friendship with Rob and the rest of the barricade boys, which came through in the song Drink With Me – The song the Barricade Boys sang after the first battle. Bradley also really shone during Enjloras’ verse of One Day More, that first line “one more day before the storm, at the barricades of freedom” will make or break an Enjloras and it certainly made Bradley’s – he was incredible!
Last but no means least I want to talk about our Gavroche, Che Grant. I loved him! He was the perfect little cheeky boy. He made me smile from the moment that we met him through to him exposing Javert until his death. I really wish we could have got Gavroche’s later song as Che would have sung it with so much character but I understand they couldn’t because with this staging there was no barricade for him to climb over but I would have LOVED to have more Che and his Gavroche!
Overall this concert version was incredible! I am so glad I got the chance to witness live! It is tied for my favourite thing of the latter half of this year alongside Evita, which shows how much I love it! Everyone’s vocals were phenomenal and it was like nothing I had ever experienced before. There were absolutely zero weak links in this cast, they were all amazing. Truly one of the best things I have experienced!
You can now book for the new production of Les Miserables when it opens again at the Sondheim (Previously the Queens) Theatre!
Get your tickets for Les Miserables here!
If you couldn’t get tickets to see the concert, fear not!! If you live in the UK, Ireland or the US, it is being broadcast live into cinemas on the 2nd of December 2019!! Tickets to see it in cinemas are on sale now! If you can go I urge you to!! I’ve got my tickets!