Guest Blog Post: In this article Darren Neylon, our Marketing, E-commerce and Commercial Director, reviews his recent theatre trip to see Les Misérables
I last saw Les Misérables about 20 years ago and it was one of my all-time favourite musicals. So it was with some trepidation that I ventured to Queen’s Theatre with Superbreak to see the current offering, hoping it wouldn’t spoil the wonderful memories I have from seeing it all those years ago. I needn’t have worried, it was superb!
Les Misérables purports to be the world’s longest-running musical, reaching its 27th birthday in October 2012. The show is proud of its new cast, featuring Geronimo Rauch as Jean Valjean (an Argentinian import from the successful Spanish version of the show), Tam Mutu as Javert, Sierra Boggess as Fantine and Danielle Hope, swapping Dorothy’s red shoes for an over-sized coat and ragged skirt, in the role of Eponine.
I recall listening to Michael Ball once say that you judge a musical by whether you are still humming the tunes when you leave the theatre. Well this show ticks all the boxes. The iconic melodies and riffs remain with you all the way home! The production was superb and the new sound system in the Queen’s theatre adds an extra dimension, literally mesmerising the audience into a captured silence, particularly in songs such as Come to Me, In My Life and A Heart Full of Love. Rauch brought the house down with his rendition of Bring Him Home, a real master at work who led the charge for the show all night. Craig Mather also did a nice job as Marius, far exceeding my initial expectations.
Other highlights included Cameron Blakely as Thenardier and Linzi Hateley as Madame Thenardier, both of whom added the balance of humour and brilliant, light-hearted moments to a show overflowing with heavy emotion. The barricade scenes were truly ‘authentic’ and the acting across all of the patriotic scenes was superb.
Lowlights for me included the acting prowess of Hope as Eponine. It’s been a fast rise to fame for Danielle, coming from nowhere to win the BBC’s talent show, Over the Rainbow, which landed her the role of Dorothy in Wizard of Oz. She is no doubt maturing as an actress and I’m sure her best years are ahead of her, but I just felt she over-acted at critical moments when more subtlety was needed. There’s no doubting her vocal skills however and her emotional rendition of On My Own was magnificent. I also thought Samantha Dorsey’s voice did not suit the role of Cosette, although I recognise other opinions in this regard may differ.
Les Misérables remains a ‘must see’ event in Theatreland as it entertains new audiences as well as those of us who enjoyed it 20 years ago. Apparently a screen version of the show is currently being filmed, including a glittering cast of names such as Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway and Sacha Baron Cohen. I’m never convinced that great musicals transfer their magic on to the silver screen so we’ll wait and see. In the meantime, definitely try to catch this legendary show!