At the time of seeing the show I was taking part in a masterclass for the show and here along with fellow attendees paid special attention to the scenes we would be performing one of which was the Prologue. I have to say that the slickness in the Prologue was not altogether there mainly due to some of the ensemble not creating believable characters. This was also notable in Lovely Ladies and Turning. The sharpness and characterisation needs to be pulled up .
The show for me was made by Michael McCarthy’s Javert (my second favourite performer in that role), Jody Crosier’s Marius, Mandy Holliday and Tony Timberlake’s Theardiers and a first for me in Little Cosette as performed by Lauren McConnell.
I do like Hans Peter Janessens Valjean, he is not my favourite, but he acts the role very well and you feel as though you know more of the inner Valjean. He is well matched with Michael McCarthy’s Javert. Michael has such a strong characterisation, stage presence and voice that everytime he is on you can’t help but watch him. The confrontation after Fantine’s death and ‘Stars’ were performed extremely well.
Whether Grania plays Fantine as weary or is weary of playing the part it is hard to tell. She bought no life or sympathy to the character and in the factory scene it almost seemed too much effort to fight for her job. She played ‘Come to me’ nicely but overall I found her performance uninteresting. One bit of staging I wish they would restore I where in the finale Fantine kneels in front of Valjean and as he sees her the final connection is made between them.
Lauren McConnell wasone of the best Little Cosettes I have seen with a lovely clear voice and good acting.
Jody Crosier’s Marius is a different interpretation in places than I have seen for a while but I liked it. The lines he has with Eponine are more spoken than sung and he has put a lot of thought into the character which came out in his acting. I particularly liked how after Eponine’s death he sat lost in his own world of disbelief at what has happened to his friend as the melee of he battle continued around him. Also he is the first Marius I have seen who, on the line in Valjean’s confession ’For the sake of Cosette it must be so’, removes Valjean’s hands from his shoulders and gently pushes him away. This makes more sense of his line later one ‘ it’s you who must forgive a thoughtless fool’.
Katie Leeming was a good Eponine but what I would call a standard Eponine interpretation. I know she is the understudy but I would have liked to have seen her own individual take on the character. But she did perform ‘A Little Fall of Rain’ beautifully and as Marius held her lifeless body it heightened the emotion in he scene.
Philippa Healey is again a good and very sweet Cosette. She has brought a nice interpretation to the role.
Tony Timberlake and Mandy Holliday are a very good pairing as the Thenardiers and have built up a good rapport and characters especially in the Thenardier waltz.
Jason McCann seemed strangely lacking in vocal power for Enjolras. He created an OK character but he didn’t seem to bring out the charismatic leadership andpassion of Enjolras. Wain Douglas has captured Grantaire well. He has built up the tense relationship with Enjolras which hides the true admiration Grantaire has for him, an admiration which is hidden behind the drink which also covers his fear. I still like watching the student relationships on the barricade and seem something more each time but the final slow motion death on the barricade scene is still one of my favourites in the show. I noticed that one of the cuts seems to have been the small section where Grantaire escorts Gavroche from the barricade but Gavroche sneaks back on. Before, this heightened Gavroche’s desire to be treated as an equal amongst the students but also making the impact of his death harder as he was just a young boy.
Overall a good performance made excellent by some performances but let down by others.