On the second day of our ‘Classics’ trip, we were down at the barricades for the Epic Les Misérables Staged Concert – which never fails to be an absolute masterpiece! Everything about this specific production of Les Mis brings you so much emotion and brings you properly into the world of 1800s France. I think I even prefer it to the standard production of Les Mis, as there is so much more emotion and heart with this production – which the regular production lacks in my view.
Everything about this incredible night was spectacular and I loved every minute of it! Let’s dive into it!
First up we have the incredible Jon Robyns as Jean Val Jean. I had previously seen Jon as King George III in Hamilton which is a far cry from the gritty Jean Valjean but he executed both to perfection! I think he is probably my favourite JVJ I have seen and his vocals were perfect for the role! His version of ‘Who Am I’ gave me goosebumps; there was so much power and strength in his voice, you wouldn’t believe it; was definitely a standout moment for me! As well as Bring Him Home which is a ‘marmite’ of a song, you’re either a really big fan or you tend to skip it each time it comes on the radio; but I think Jon did a beautiful job singing the song and projecting each word and really getting you to listen to the words and meaning of the song. I think the rivalry between Jon and Bradley (Javert) was really well done and tense throughout the production especially in ‘The Confrontation’ which is one of my favourite songs within the musical. I really liked his relationship with Charlie (Cosette), I thought that was really cute and another well-done relationship within the show.
Following Jon, we have Bradley who played Jon’s rival, Javert. A fun fact about this is that Bradley was my first Javert so it was nice to go back after 2/3 years and see his improvement within the role; although it was odd not seeing him as Enjloras… Like I said with Jon, one of my favourite moments in the show has and will always be ‘The Confrontation’ which both Bradley and Jon excelled in! I thought Bradley’s version of Stars was an incredible performance, it, like Bring Him Home is a song I have to admit I do normally skip but Bradley really captivated the audience and makes them listen to every word of the song. Bradley’s standout moment for me was 100% Javert’s Suicide, I thought the power and intensity in that scene were unmatched by any other versions I’ve seen in the role. Bradley just has the perfect presence for Javert in that scene and the vocals were insane! It felt odd clapping such a grisly moment within the show but with a performer like Bradley, it was impossible not to. Overall Bradley was an insane Javert, who gave heart to a character who is meant to be the villain of the story… I’d LOVE to see Bradley as The Phantom one day because wow…that would be phenomenal.
Next up we have Lucie Jones who has cemented herself as my favourite Fantine! She was incredible!! I wish we could have gotten more time with Fantine before her death because Lucie made me love the character even more! Lucie’s version of I Dreamed A Dream was 100% the best I had ever witnessed, everyone in that audience was so silent that you could hear a pin drop when she hit those final notes before erupting into applause in awe of what they had just witnessed. Soon after her incredible moment with I Dreamed A Dream the heartbreakingly sad ‘Fantine’s Death’ which Lucie shattered hearts with; which was so well performed yet so devastating at the same time. Overall I thought Lucie was an incredible Fantine and I wish we could have gotten more moments with her.
Moving on, we have Charlie Burns who plays Cosette. I really enjoyed Charlie in this role, I thought she had the perfect blend of optimism and realism throughout the performances she was in. I thought that her version of both ‘In My Life’ and ‘A Heart Full of Love’ was amazing and that she portrayed all of Cosette’s emotions and feelings strongly; a girl who has lost so much already, but is wanting to love and wanting to find that happiness out in the world. I thought her relationship with Harry (Marius) was a sweet, loving, realistic relationship for two characters are experiencing love for the first time. Another relationship of hers I enjoyed was hers and Jon’s, I thought that was a lovely relationship between the both of them, especially in the epilogue. Overall I think Charlie as Cosette was another great casting choice!
It’s only right that we follow Cosette up with her love interest so…Now we have Harry Apps as Marius who was another spectacular performer! I thought he portrayed Marius and all his attributes how you’d expect them to be. His performance of Empty Chairs at Empty Tables was one of the best I have heard, you could feel the pain oozing off him and shattering everyone’s heart whilst he is portraying all the stages of grief in one song. Moving onto happier moments, I thought his friendships with both Shan (Eponine) and Jamie (Enjloras) were both tightly knit throughout. Likewise, his relationship with Charlie was full of hope and optimism despite what the two characters had been through in their not so great lives; the Cosette/Marius relationship is the plot point that brings hope and love to the show and both Harry and Charlie portrayed that perfectly.
Next, we have the wonderful Shan Ako as Eponine. It’s no secret that I adore Shan’s Eponine and this just reminded me exactly why. Shan brings so much heart and soul to this role and really shows us how strong of a character Eponine is. Her performance of On My Own is one of my favourite pieces of theatre I have gotten to witness; with Shan, you can feel every single little bit of hope or emotion in whatever she is singing and with Les Mis especially, that brings so much more to the production. You just want to wrap Eponine in a blanket and protect her…even though she could easily protect herself. Another incredible part of Shan’s performance was A Little Fall of Rain…heartbreakingly beautiful and devastating to witness. Continuing from A Little Fall of Rain leads me to her friendship with Marius which felt strong throughout…even if the character himself is a little bit of an idiot when it comes to Eponine; Harry and Shan were great in their scenes together and I wish we could get more of them together in the show. To sum up…Shan was incredible as Eponine as always.
Following on from Eponine we have Marius’ other close friend Enjloras played by the impressive Jamie Muscato. I loved Jamie’s portrayal of Enjloras, he was a strong presence on the stage which is how you always want an Enljoras to be. If he makes you feel like you want to join the revolution that’s how you know he’s an amazing Enjloras! Jamie definitely passes that test! His versions of both Red+Black and Do You Hear The People Sing were both strongly performed as Jamie had an amazing tone to his voice which fits the role of Enjloras! He certainly had the qualities of a revolutionary leader. I thought the brotherly bond between Jamie’s Enjloras and Harry’s Marius was one of the strongest bonds I’ve seen portrayed. Overall Jamie was another excellent addition to this cast!
And finally, we have Gerard Carey and Josefina Gabrielle as The Thenardiers! I loved these two!! They were hilarious. I thought after how amazing both Matt Lucas and Katy Secombe were that it would be hard to love another take on the role but I absolutely adored Gerard and Josefina’s take! They were entertaining and worked so so well together!! I loved their version of Master of The House, I thought they brought the much-needed comedy and lightheartedness to the show. Their comedic timing and just generally how they portrayed the Thenardiers was perfect and they 100% proved that you don’t need big names to have incredible and talented performers that make the show! Another set of perfect casting choices!
Overall it was amazing to be back hearing people sing at the barricades! This concert version is such an incredible and moving take on the already heartbreaking Les Mis. The lighting and the staging of this show are spectacular as well as the impeccable cast! If you get the chance to go and see it before it reverts to it’s normal staged performances, I would 100% grab tickets to go and see the incredible show that is Les Misérables: The Staged Concert.