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Les Miserables: The Staged Concert - Review

The classic musical gets an all-star concert staging at the Gielgud Theatre.

With the renovations currently ongoing at the newly renamed Sondheim Theatre the Les Mis creatives decided to stage a 16 week run in concert format at the next door Gielgud Theatre to keep the show running during this period. The set up is similar to that of the O2 25th-anniversary concerts and it's a masterpiece.

Alfie Boe leads the cast as Jean Valjean. Watching him in this role is special. He is perfectly cast here. His gorgeous vocals soar throughout. His genuinely haunting rendition of "Bring Him Home" stopped the show. He gives everything to the character. I was fortunate enough to be watching from the second row of the stalls and seeing and hearing him from this close proximity made the whole experience even more special.

Michael Ball, the shows original Marius, returns after 34 years to take on the role of Javert. He is a commanding presence but I didn't think his vocals always hit the heights I was expecting. That said his rendition of "Stars" was superb.

Matt Lucas returns to Thenardier. He laps up every moment in the role and is the right amount of grotesque and hilarious with a superb voice. His fourth wall breaking response to a big round of applause as he entered the stage for the first was brilliant "what are you clapping for? I ain't done anything yet. I might be rubbish". Matched together with Katy Secombe's excellent Madame Thenardier, she relishes every moment too, especially during "Master of the House". I don't think anyone plays the roles better than Matt and Katy do.

Carrie Hope Fletcher takes on the role of Fantine and this is her best performance of her career to date. Her beautiful vocals hit every powerful note. She has so much control and power in her voice. You felt every painful emotion as the character goes through horrible circumstances. The iconic "I Dreamed a Dream" was delivered to perfection. Through the thousands of renditions of this song previously I doubt it's ever been sung as good as Carrie gives.

Shan Ako, making her West End debut as Eponine, is a real find. She is terrific throughout. You felt every emotion and heartbreak of her character, especially as Marius chooses Cosette over her. She delivered the most painful and beautiful "On My Own", her voice it beautifully. I suspect and hope that we'll be seeing a lot more of Shan in the future.

The cast images from the brochure.

Rob Houchen's Marius is as good as ever. You truly believe he is absolutely besotted with Lily Kerhoas as Cosette from their first meeting. Rob delivers a spellbinding "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" too. Lily, another making her West End debut, is charming and sweet as Cosette.

Bradley Jaden's gives an amazing Enjolras. What a powerful voice he has. I'm not sure he'd even need a microphone to be heard on the back rows of the upper circle. He's THAT good. I could have happily watched him all night. He's strong and commanding leading the boys on the barricades. Possibly the star performance of the night.

A large ensemble completes the fantastic company. It's great to see so many excellent returning Les Mis alumni. I must give mentions to; Simon Bowman's Bishop of Digne, the massively underused Earl Carpenter's Bamatabois, Celia Graham's Factory Girl, Christopher Jacobsen's Warnings and Raymond Walsh's Grantaire, but it's hard to single anyone out in this strong company. Logan Clark is a delight too as Gavroche. A little star in the making.

A large orchestra under the direction of Alfonso Casado Trigo sounds beautiful throughout. A fantastically talented group of musicians. It was so refreshing to see everyone around me stay and clap them after they played the Playout.

The concerts staging is naturally a bit simplified compared to the full-scale production but you lose none of the emotion of the story. Matthew Kinley's set and image design bring the real feel of the original production. I adored the opening where the lights raised as the orchestra playing the opening bars. Paule Constable and Warren Letton's lighting is particularly good, although the use of lights from behind the characters and onto the front rows of the stalls did make it a bit too bright to see sometimes. Nick Potter's sound design is strong, blending the sound effects and the music superbly. Andreane's Neofitou's iconic costume continues to be an important part of the show look and feel.

I've seen Les Miserables numerous times in London and a couple of times on it's current UK tour, but last night was the show at it's best. An incredible company, staged superbly, with a brilliant orchestra and a great atmosphere in the audience. I don't think you could see Les Mis done better than this concert staging. Musical Theatre perfection.

Rating: ★★★★★

Les Miserables: The Staged Concert runs at London's Gielgud Theatre until November 30th. For final remaining tickets visit click here


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