WORTH A LOOK?: ****
WHERE? Gielgud Theatre RUNTIME: 170 minutes (including 20-minute interval)
WHEN? 17/8 and runs to 30/11/19
STOP PRESS: Hope Fletcher has been cast as Fantine in Les Miserables at the Sondheim Theatre from 18/12/19 Tickets
This year’s BBC adaptation of Les Miserables was song-free and here that idea is very much reversed with the focus on the score of the behemoth musical with the labyrinthine plot far less well explained.
- Read on for reasons including which songs in the score work especially well
We suspect your experience of this staged concert will very much depend upon how you feel about the concept of a near story-free version because, while we felt it was missing some explanation, the rest of our party was very much enjoying how well these songs were being sung.
The strength in depth of the cast is astounding. Boe plays hero Jean Valjean as he is freed from prison and his strong voice is always impressive. Ball is arguably a bigger star and it is gracious of him to play Valjean’s nemesis, the policeman Javert who is so unbending that he is completely undone when shown unexpected kindness.
Hope Fletcher recently starred to much acclaim in the West End transfer of Heathers and here plays doomed single mother Fantine who does justice to arguably the show’s best known song I Dreamed A Dream.
If it all sounds rather serious so far, bawdy baddies the Thenardiers are brought vividly to life by Matt Lucas and Katy Secombe who combine pantomime villainy and real fun in the knockabout number Master Of The House.
Elsewhere, we very much enjoyed Rob Houchen in Eugenius and he makes for a charming, youthful Marius. While the powerful singing of Bradley Jaden as Enjolras caught our ears.
We enjoyed the recent BBC version of Les Miserables but there was a gaping emotional hole where the songs would have been and Boe’s moving Bring Him Home is especially good here. Shan Ako as doomed lover Eponine makes the most of the tear-jerking On My Own.
It’s not only the impressive singing that singles out this version of Les Miserables but also the spectacle of a cast of more than 50 accompanied by a 26-strong orchestra.
Other members of our party joined the standing ovation with whoops of delight and, while this was a show we very much enjoyed, we think we would have preferred to have seen the original musical in its entirety.