This won't be a very thorough or good review so please don't hurt me!
This was the first time I've seen Les Mis, however I've been in a production (2013) and listened to countless recordings over the past couple of years. So it was time to see my favourite musical live!
Before I start let me just say the worst thing about this show was the audience. Hardly any applause, but I’ll get to that later…
Prologue: This was incredible. The projections of waves crashing against the prisoners together with the composure of all the actors made for a great start to the show, it was definitely living up to what I wanted.
Probably my favourite little detail was that during Valjean's monologue (freedom is mine...) Little Gervais came out and Valjean stepped on the coin! I’m not sure if this is done in other productions but it was a nice thing for fans of the book to have noticed.
I’ll get to individual reviews of each actor later but Simon Gleeson’s efforts in this scene were remarkable. The physicality was exactly what is needed from a Valjean. One thing that I absolutely HATED throughout the entire show was that there were little remarks from random characters in pivotal scenes. This is a sung-through musical (with like one or two exceptions, DON’T ADD IN WORDS!!!) but whatever, it’s still Les Mis.
Bishop/Arrest/Forgiven: One of my favourite scenes anyway, this was another good one. The nuns were great and the Bishop in his nightdress thing was quite amusing. I felt the Bishop stayed on stage for a bit too long and was looking back at Valjean during the intro of the soliloquy.
No applause in between the end of this and the start of the soliloquy :’(
Valjean’s Soliloquy: Now I believe Les Mis should have ACTORS that can sing well, not singers that can somewhat act. Simon Gleeson is a fantastic actor and an amazing singer, but he butchered my 3rd favourite song in my opinion. My favourite version is Ramin’s from London 2012 where it is rough but still well sung. Gleeson unfortunately went too much on the rough-talk/sing route and the pacing was awkward to me.
I don’t know if this is something in the 25th production or if it’s always been like this, but on the final word “Be—gii-iiiiin” the yellow ticket should be ripped on the 3 beats (if that makes sense), like Boe did in the 25th concert. Instead here we saw Valjean slowly raise it above his head then just do one rip on the very last note. Not as effective.
At the End of the Day: I won’t say much because the ensemble throughout the entire show were fantastic and this was no exception.
I Dreamed a Dream: This started without any music at all???????? “There was a time…” up until the actual duun dun duun dun dun duun dun dun boo boo boo bo bo bo bo bo (terrible transcribing) was all silent. It was strange but I didn’t mind it. Not as emotional a performance as I would’ve liked (I personally think the song should be after LL like in the movie)
Lovely Ladies: The acting in this was hilariously good! Everyone was really getting into it and it was a pleasure to watch. Bamatabois’ performance was probably the best non-lead of the night.
Fantine’s Arrest: Great work between Javert, Valjean, and Fantine in this scene. Can’t remember much else about it but it was done very well.
Runaway Cart: Holy shit it was a big cart! Again with the ensemble mostly on stage it did a good job of bringing you into an otherwise fairly awkward scene.
Who Am I: Of all the solos in the musical (not including Castle on a Cloud) this is my least favourite. Gleeson did a great job of it though, proving his singing voice is one to be jealous of. The reveal of the court was awesome and the final note was done perfectly.
Fantine’s Death: I can’t begin to speak about this, so I won’t. (No applause from the audience, is this normal?)
Confrontation: I freaking love the Confrontation and this was a super physical rendition, with both actors really getting up in each others’ face and the fights seemed very real. However, at the end when they are singing their individual lines (I swear to you…) They were facing each other singing it to the other person. This seemed odd to me as I thought Valjean was supposed to be directing it towards Fantine.
Castle on a Cloud: Fine.
Master of the House: I hate this song so much. So so so so so so so so much. I know everyone loves it to bits but I just have bad memories from our production. I hated that of all the big songs, MotH got the biggest eruption of applause from the audience, not even ODM or any solos got such a reaction. This was probably due to the fact that the Thenardiers were great at their parts, but I still can’t stand the song!
The Well: Very nicely done. Gleeson was very genuine and you could really believe he wanted to care for Cosette.
Bargain: See above with MotH and the Well, done well but I don’t really like the song.
Look Down: In the opening chords/notes/whatever, Valjean and Cosette are seeing the people enter the stage which I found strange as it is a shift in time. Can’t complain about this song though because again the ensemble pulled it off nicely. Gavroche was a little shit though and stole the stage (not in a good way)
Robbery: Yeah this was alright. I’ll get to Marius later but TL;DR he was terrible and so was Éponine. Thenardiers did a great job in this scene and the fighting between JVJ and Thenardier’s gang was good
Javert’s Intervention: AMAZING! Except that annoying little cretin, Gavroche, stayed on stage for way too long looking at Javert during the intro to Stars
Stars: This would be the 4th best renditions of Stars I’ve ever heard (Crivello 1st, Fraser 2nd, Quast 3rd). Tee was a bit breathy but it was still fantastically amazingly awesomely spectacular.
Gavroche’s little jingle thing: Whatever, it was ok. It legitimately got a bigger applause that IDAD and Stars though…
Éponine’s Errand: See, my biggest problem with Éponine was that she was too much of an obnoxious tomboy and you never really felt like she actually loved Marius (until OMO when it was a bit too late).
ABC Cafe/Red and Black: I was Courfeyrac in our production so I have a soft spot for these scenes, and as such I thought this was great.
DYHTPS: Not as powerful as it should be if I’m totally honest.
In My Life: Don’t have much to say but it was a lot better than most others that I’ve heard.
AHFOL: The reason I didn’t like this Marius was that he never had any facial expressions, wasn’t a great actor, and his voice portrayed no emotion at all, it was just a pretty boy singing voice. This + Éponine’s terrible efforts at pretending she cared about Marius made AHFOL pretty underwhelming.
Attack on Rue Plumet: Very very good, once again Thenardier stole the stage and made this scene his own. Éponine’s scream was obviously prerecorded and you could tell easily.
One Day More: YES! I can’t even remember if it was done well I just love ODM to death.
ACT TWO - I’m going to go through this quickly.
Upon these stones: Fine.
On My Own: She performed this so magnificently and you finally got to see her longing love for Marius, however because it wasn’t present in Act 1 it was hard to believe in this song.
Barricade jazz/Javert’s Arrival/more Barricade jazz: Good.
Little Fall of Rain: Éponine was basically having a seizure during this but she sung very well and had some great emotions. Marius on the other hand was dreadful and his pretty boy voice did not suit the song at all.
Night of Anguish/First Attack: Good.
Drink With Me: DWM is hands down my favourite song in the entire show, and possibly my favourite song in all of musical theatre (Falling Slowly is a close 2nd). My favourite performance is Crivello’s in the TAC as Grantaire, I can’t describe it but he doesn’t seem like a hopeless drunk but rather really shows what I want from a Grantaire. This Grantaire on the other hand just played it off as a comedic character and it ruined the song.
Bring Him Home: Holy. Fuck. Gleeson brought the house down with this, better than Ramin, better than Colm, better than anyone else I’ve heard. I don’t know what it was about it but it was insane.
2nd Attack/Final attack: This was staged really really well, the use of sounds and lights really worked to give it some realism. Grantaire going up the barricade to die worked well too, but it would’ve been better provided his DWM solo wasn’t so bad.
Instead of having Enjolras hanging on the barricade, he was hanging out the back of a cart pulled by an army officer, worked very nicely.
Dog Eats Dog/Sewers: The projections were so cool during this, really making the montage of Valjean carrying Marius seem real. Thenardier again was great in this scene.
Javert’s Suicide: I love this song so much and like Stars, Tee did a fantastic job of it. Seeing him float to his death was strange but it worked with the use of projections. We had our Javert fall down to his death off a pretty big height (I’ll try and link you a .gif of it)
Empty Chairs: Marius’ complete lack of emotion killed this song
(Does Éponine usually come out as a ghost with the other students? I thought she did but apparently not?)
All the rest: Extremely well done, the finale brought many tears to everyones eyes and it was great.
Gavroche: 1 (fuck Gavroche)
Overall... 6.5-7/10, would see it again every night of my life