Les Misérables Review: Queens Theatre 02/07/14 (evening performance)
Jean Valjean: Peter Lockyer
Javert: David Thaxton
Bishop: Adam Linstead
Foreman: Simon Shorten
Fantine: Celinde Schoenmaker
Factory Girl: Joanna Loxton
Factory Workers: Michael Riseley
Bamatabois: Adam Pearce
Madame: Helen Walsh
Whores: Melanie Bright
Old Woman: Tamsin Dowsett
Crone: Claire Parrish
Little Cosette: Sylvie Erskine
Thenardier: Tom Edden
Madame Thenardier: Wendy Ferguson
Young Éponine: Matilda Hopkins
Gavroche: Max Robson
Éponine: Carrie Hope Fletcher
Cosette: Emilie Fleming
Montparnasse: Michael Riseley
Brujon: Adam Pearce
Babet: Adam Linstead
Claquesous: Simon Shorten
Enjolras: Michael Colbourne
Marius: Rob Houchen
Combeferre: Jonny Purchase
Feuilly: Ashley Stillburn
Courfeyrac: James Gant
Joly: Ethan Bradshaw
Grantaire: Jeremy Batt
Lesgles: Dougie Carter or Jordan Lee Davis
Jean Prouvaire: Dougie Carter or Jordan Lee Davis
"I had to make a conscious effort to stop crying so that I could sing along"
It's been 9 years since I last saw Les Mis in London and with the release of the film in 2012 and my getting more involved in the fandom, my increasing desire to see it again reached fever pitch. I had passed up the opportunity to see it in 2010 in order to see Wicked again, and whilst that may seem strange, I'm glad I made that call even though it meant I missed seeing a very good cast. Finally an opportunity arose as my musical theatre group planned a trip to London for July 2014. My original intention was to see Andrew Lloyd Webber's Stephen Ward and maybe Les Mis but when the former sadly flopped I realised that this was definitely my time to get back to the Queens theatre and back to the show that has dominated my whole life. I booked my seat really early and got E21 (I would recommend it and will try and get a similar seat next time I go). Some of my friends booked later but we were all seated separately. Excitement grew with the casting announcements of David Thaxton as Javert and much of the cast remaining (Wendy, Rob, Carrie).
Finally July arrived and after seeing a matinee production of Book of Mormon with the rest of the group, I met up with my best friends Katharin and Helen to grab dinner before heading to the theatre. We checked out the stage door location and Cosette mural before heading into the theatre. After buying a mountain of memorabilia (t-shirt, mug, programmes) and checking the cast board (despite my fears of missing David Thaxton or any of the other major stars, the main cast was all present), I went to my seat which was even better than I had anticipated (having waited 9 years I was not going to settle for missing anything). So shaking with excitement I waited and soon enough it began...
- I had the most wonderful time at the performance and none of the flaws that are mentioned did anything to spoil my enjoyment.
-I will use the character and actor names interchangeably, it's too difficult otherwise. Sorry if it's confusing.
-Also, considering how long it is since I last saw the show, I may comment on things that are normal stage directions as something new and exciting. If so, it's just because I wasn't expecting them.
-I haven't really written a review like this before so it will verge between prose and bullet points, bear with me.
-Also, excuse any repetition.
The opening chords, as always, had me in tears (my thing about overtures has not let up) but I did have to get over the orchestration which is much lighter and than I'm used to with the CSR as my primary source. It needs a stronger bass line. Lockyer's Valjean seemed very influenced by Karimloo's broadway performance, even the look with the shaved head and beard rather than the long shaggy hair. At this point Javert doesn't have a lot to do but Thaxton just emanated Javertness, I was buzzing to hear more. His sarcastic "No!" was excellent. There was a great moment before Javert leaves the stage where it was just him and JVJ maintaining eye contact in a quite dim light. It was a great image. One thing that bugged me was that as the convicts left, the lines 'you'll always be a slave' and 'you're standing in your grave', were switched around. I'm not sure how old this change is but it sounds so jarring.
Being used to the concerts and CDs I forgot how much the chorus was in the prologue as the workers and villagers at the inn. The colour scheme in the bit where JVJ goes to find work struck me as being really pretty and country-like.
I unfortunately didn't like Adam Linstead's bishop. His vibrato was too over the top and though his acting was fine, his voice just put me off completely.
Soliloquy was great with superb, fast changes in emotion which are exactly what's required.
At the End of the Day
The intro to this was another teary moment for me but that was marred by latecomers being let in in my row and in the row behind. I had to give them my best dirty look through the tears.
The scene was great even though the singing was ever so slightly too 'nice' (I'm used to a more harsh tone).
Celinde looks perfect as Fantine, really gorgeous.
I thought the foreman looked a bit too greasy. Just a personal opinion, I mean he should look a bit unsavoury but he's still at work.
I Dreamed a Dream
I liked it, others in my group hated it.
Celinde belted a lot which was fine but I would have liked a few more quiet moments. Some of the others got the feeling the song was in the wrong key, I didn't hear it (and it's the type of thing that I would notice) so I think they just didn't like the belting.
Lovely Ladies/ Fantine's arrest
Really good- loved the shadows behind which I hadn't noticed before.
Celinde acted unconscious until just before Javert started addressing her which I liked,made her seem so small.
Oh Thaxton, he was incredible, amazing stage presence. Great interaction between him and the other guards as he holds them back while JVJ and Fantine interact.
I forgot about the slow motion running before the cart appears. It could appear silly but the chorus were great so it was perfectly realistic. The cut lines didn't bother me because I'd looked them up before, they might have if I hadn't been prepared.
Great interaction between Thaxton and Lockyer after. Thaxton's Javert looks so proud when talking about having caught Valjean.
Who Am I
This was really really good
Good use of silence- making the dilemma seem more obvious.
At the start he really looks so happy about this chance to be free of being Valjean.
Possibly too much vibrato but he hit the last note and did it well so it didn't matter.
Also, Javert is at the court, which I suppose makes sense considering Valjean addresses him
' And so Javert, you see it's true.' It just surprised me.
Come to Me
The scenery here is so lovely with the projected window and lighting.
I think I may have cried briefly here too as I was directly in Celinde's line of sight for her last few lines.
The tension was great and fight scene felt real rather than choreographed.
Thaxton took the first part of the 'you know nothing of Javert' verse up an octave which sounded great.
Castle on a Cloud
It's better this length (without extra verse)
Wee Cosette was adorable. I loved that she wasn't as super posh as they usually are. She had a lisp and with her broom she looked just like the engraving that provides the logo.
Wendy has great presence as Madame T, possibly too shouty but I didn't mind. And little Éponine was adorable too.
Master of the House
Really good, I'd forgotten how much goes on in the background of this scene and I love all that comedy going on in the background from the chorus. This song got the first big cheer from the audience. I'd been cheering as well as clapping in every applause which up until this point had just garnered me some weird looks from my neighbours. But after this it became normal.
Waltz of Treachery
The bit in the forest was there (I can't remember when this was put back in as it was definitely in the original but gone by the CSR and it was back in the film.) It was very cute.
The 'la la la' section (for want of a better name) was lovely but I got the feeling Lockyer was a bit sharp for a lot of it.
The interactions between JVJ and the 2 thenardiers was great and I loved how tiny little Cosette looked all curled up on a stool during it.
The interaction between JVJ and Cosette afterwards was lovely, really reminded me of the photos of Colm Wilkinson from the original London production.
More tears from me.
I love how the some of the chorus are hanging out from the stage almost over the audience.
I wasn't sure of Michael Colbourne's Enjolras at first, his voice didn't seem commanding enough even though he looked great in the role. I think it's just that I'm used to Warlow on the CSR.
Gavroche was great, cute and sassy in the right proportions. I loved the fact that Rob Houchen's Marius wasn't all best-friendy with Carrie Fletcher's Éponine, just a bit concerned for her.
The Éponine/Montparnasse interactions were great as well. It's nice to see a young looking Parnasse after the older ones from the concerts.
Very well done.
Thenardier had an eyepatch on which he pulled off at 'wait a bit, know that face'.
Cosette kinda got thrown against the wall in the chaos that followed and I thought it was adorable how Rob ran over to protect her.
Thaxton's 'Another brawl in the square' was awesome. He absolutely commanded the stage.
There was a nice bit of interaction from Éponine and Montparnasse on the bridge part of the set before Stars started, as though they were having an argument of some sort as she watched Marius run off.
Phenomenal, perfect, I cannot use enough superlatives for this.
This was well done.
The way Carrie grinned when Rob grabs her shoulder reminded me of Sam Barks in the movie.
This was my first time seeing this when I was able to tell the Amis apart by their lines and costumes. Hey last time I saw it I doubt that I knew all their names and I was still spelling and pronouncing Courfeyrac as Confeyrac and Thenardier as Thernardier (I'm not proud of that).
I love this scene and this production was excellent. Great characterisation.
I loved the interaction between Enjolras and Marius, and Enjolras and Grantaire. Jeremy Batt was Grantaire and looked great in the role, like George blagden with a beard.
I loved how irritated Colbourne seemed with Rob's Marius at first.
I also love the fact that Grantaire stands before Marius in the final rendition of Red and Black. Rob really waited till the very last moment to stand
Colbourne's 'Lamarque is Dead' was wonderful. In the first phrase it was like he couldn't quite grasp the fact moving on to the realisation that this is his chance. He seemed so excited.
Do You Hear the People Sing
I was still worried that I'd be disappointed and that Michael C wouldn't be able to do it, but I was wrong, he was excellent. He started quite quietly and contemplatively (like he was giving a speech) and continued to get louder. He was incredible.
I didn't cry till the final chords which I was a bit surprised at, but hey.
In My Life
I had no real expectations regarding Emilie Fleming's Cosette but I was really pleasantly surprised. She had great presence, her voice was wonderful and she wasn't too weak a character especially in her verse with Valjean.
Rob and Carrie were great here as well, I was too bowled over by Emilie to notice anything in particular there.
A Heart Full of Love
The trio in this was really lovely.
I'd forgotten how nice the scenery is in this scene and how the really slowly turning stage can get the gate the other way round by the end of the song without spinning too fast.
Attack on Rue Plumet
This was great especially the interaction between Éponine and Thenardier, and Éponine and Montparnasse.
Carrie was great here, really strong, not like Sam Barks in the movie at this point.
There was a lovely moment as Marius introduces Éponine to Cosette and is generally running around in a panic, Emilie and Carrie stood really still staring at each other through the gate as the stage rotated.
I was a bit annoyed that Emilie Fleming didn't act more annoyed when Valjean announced that they are leaving. She just looked a bit shocked and distraught. I wouldn't usually think of this but due to her earlier strength I expected a bit more character development here.
One Day More
I had to make a conscious decision to stop crying so that I could sing along.
Last edited by Rachelle
on Wed Jul 09, 2014 10:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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