Les Miserables - 15 February 2003

Despite the accompaniment of the peace protest I enjoyed another visit to Les Miz : ) There are some excellent people in the current cast and if wasn’t for the irritating child in front who in truth took the shine of the performance, as he constantly broke my concentration, I feel I would have connected a lot more than I did.

Saying that it was an excellent performance and the cast as a whole gave a great performance. Of the principals I had seen Carmen Cusack and Han Peter Janessens before and being at the front I notice how little facial expression Hans has and has the constant appearance of a rabbit in the headlights. He plays a good Valjean but doesn’t make an impact with the character although he does play the last scene very nicely. Carmen Cusack remains a strong Fantine, bringing depth to both her performance and singing, I have not heard I Dreamed a Dream sung with such heart for a good while.

Stephen Tate and Rosie Ashe are just perfect as the Thenardiers, they have a wonderful working relationship and complimented each other so well. They added so many extra bits to the parts which created a realistic working relationship. Sometimes it doesn’t have to be a big gesture, just a look, word or gesture which conveys so much about the character especially Rosie’s added extras during the Thenardier Waltz as she emphasised the words her husband spoke to try and convince Valjean of her compassion.

The love triangle of Marius, Eponine and Cosette were all played by people new to me - Hadley Fraser, Sophia Revagelas and Helen French and what an excellent trio they were. Helen and Sophia look quite similar which made the fact that Marius chose Cosette more hurtful for Eponine. They all worked well together creating believable relationships. I would say that Hadley is up there with my favourite Marius’ as he brought depth to Marius which can easily be passed over.

Paul Manuel is one of my favourite Enjolras’, he manages to convey a strong and charismatic leader who gains the respect of the students. He has bursts of passion out of frustration as he reacts to Grantaire's constant mocking which hides his true respect for Enjolras and the love lorn Marius.

Paul Vicary played a very good Javert, he had a strong clear voice and his ‘Stars’ was excellent but the highlight of his performance for me was his fall into Javert’s madness.

For me I love seeing the personal touches to anyone’s performance and for this cast these are the bits which made it for me:

• During ‘Master of the House’ Thenardier stole a ring off the finger of the first traveller to come to the inn and when the second traveller arrived these two travellers had a genuine conversation about the missing ring and where it might be. It was a great example of the ensemble working to create a realistic vision on stage.

• Gavroche, who unfortunately I do not know who was playing him, had excellent facial expressions and had captured the vulnerability of Gavroche especially when he comes across the dying Eponine as his faced showed he had not experienced seeing someone die before. Grantaire came up and tried to turn him away but he was frozen to the spot. Also at the beginning of act 2 as Javert introduced himself to Enjolras, Gavroche stood behind him making a mental note to watch this ‘new student’

• During Red & Black the students having many conversations, including one above the heads of the other students complimenting yet unrelated to the main action

• At the beginning of One Day More Marius staring out into nothingness with such desolation on his face and Eponine kneeling behind him looking up in neverending adoration longing to be seen but knowing she never will be

• At the end of a poignant ‘A Little Fall of Rain’ Marius openly wept, barely managed to speak the final word ‘grow’ and then pulled Eponine to him and just cried in his grief ‘Oh Eponine’. No one could comfort him and finding Eponine’s hat on the barricade made him curl up in despair as the other students relaxed for the evening.

• As Javert met Valjean as he came out of the sewers his whole demeanour and face showed a Javert who had gone beyond reason and had passed the line between sanity and madness

• During the Epilogue as Fantine kneeled in front of Valjean to the words ‘and you will be with God’ he finally saw her and his face lit up in relief as if all the pressures of his life were over, the sound of the door opening distracted him and when he turned back instead of seeing Fantine, as he expected, Cosette as kneeling before him and his face was so grateful at having this one last chance to see her for a few moments

There is always so much to see in the show and I know I missed many things so a good enough reason to go and see the show again : )

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