Les Miserables – 18 June 2005, London

Having heard that Sean Kingsley’s Valjean was an interpretation you would either like or hate I was intrigued to how I would find him. His voice is much more of a rock voice than many other Valjean’s which mean some of the quiet sections initially left me thinking whether he would have the later vocal power – this was confirmed as a yeas at the end of the Prologue. As a Valjean he acted every single word, he always understood the words he was singing and probably played around with timings more than others but it worked. His ‘Bring Him Home’ was just beautiful, one of the best versions I have heard, and the Finale poignant as his voice faltered on ‘your mother gave her life for you and gave you to my keeping’ and then returning to full strength as the burden of life is finally lifted from him.

I first saw Gemma Wardle’s Eponine in 1993 and 12 years on she still plays a very good Eponine, capturing this lost soul and her forever unrequited love. The relationship with Marius was not as close as some of others I have seen but this was more from Gary Tushaw’s Marius as opposed to Gemma. Gary’s interpretation of Marius seems odd for want of a better word, or different. His initial Marius is very much the privileged young man , falling in love and thinking that will take over everything. Playing revolutionaries is just a game. In act 2 he shows a more aggressive side to Marius. Overall for me he didn’t make a big impact as Marius but it is hard to say exactly why. He worked well with Julia Moller’s sweet but not outstanding Cosette and Jonathan William’s Enjolras.

Jonathan is a striking Enjolras, having both the presence to be believable as the student leader and a voice which instils a fire in fellow students. A strong and believable performance.

Michael McCarthy, Stephen Tate, Katy Secombe and Joanna Ampil I have reviewed on several occasions before but all gave excellent performances.

The lighting seems to have become generally more darker but also more focussed, picking out and highlighting faces rather than a whole scene, creating the atmosphere with shadows as much as light. In Empty Chairs Marius’ face is lit in a warm light as behind in a colder and smoky atmosphere the dead students stand watching – the impression of the two words side by side for that moment is clearly created. At the moment of death for Fantine and Eponine the light around them turned momentarily to white giving a sense of a soul departing.

As it comes to 20 years Les Miz still shows it is neither tired or coming to the end of it’s London life.

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