LES MISERABLES - LONDON CAST REVIEW 6.12.97

Well Saturday was my 13th visit to Les Miz and as I say every time I just get so much more out of the show each visit. This was the first time I've seen the changes and I think they are all excellent. I love the new costumes and they certainly brighten things up. I like the new Red and Black staging, so much better then the platform coming forward.

What a relief to have an excellent Valjean at last, over the past few visits I have been very uninspired by the Valjeans but Stig Rossen the current resident is excellent. He has the stature, expression and a wonderful voice. At the end of the show he made a very emotional speech on behalf of the cast as they were collecting for Aids and Leukaemia Research that week. My main reason for going was to see Ethan Freemanís Javert. I am still undecided as to whether I like his interpretation or not. He plays Javert as I have never seen him, I like the way on his individual lines at time he seemed to speak them more but they came across with the right level of expression. His Suicide was very manic and that is perhaps one aspect I didn't like. I think what didn't quite work for me was that I didn't feel at the start that he conveyed enough of Javertís dedication to the law and therefore when he committed suicide, though obviously in despair, his downfall was perhaps not quite believable

After years of seeing Grania Renihan it was great to see another Fantine, not that there was anything wrong with Grania but a change was good. Silvie Paladino was an excellent Fantine, wonderful voice and full of emotion. Stig and Silvie worked very well together and in Come to Me you really felt as if there was a great affection between them. I particularly liked at the end where she kneeled in front of Valjean, took his hands and again there was that connection.

The Thenardiers were the understudies Peter Gerald and Tania Newton. Both were good but I felt that they were not quite up to 100% in their characterisation. I had hoped to see Nick Holder. Gemma Wardle has grown very much on me as Eponine. I have always liked her interpretation but she again seems to have developed more. You can see so much of her feelings in her actions and A Little Fall of Rain was wonderful.

Annalene Beechey has to be my favourite Cosette. She is the only one who actually makes you accept that she has Marius and Eponine doesn't. She has a delightful manner and in the epilogue as she whispers 'no, papa, no' as Valjean talks of dying it is so emotional.

Now Graham Mackay-Bruce is a very new Marius and he does need to work at it a bit more. He had a good voice but he didn't have any presence. His character wasn't clearly developed. He was good in A little Fall of Rain and afterwards hugging and kissing Eponine, but he didn't seem affected for long enough. Soon as her body was gone, he seemed to just get on with things. I think seeing him a few more months he may have settled in more

At last I got to see Glyn Kerslake's Enjolras. Everytime I've been he seems to be across the road at Martin Guerre. I did like his Enjolras, his voice isn't as powerful as some I've heard (John Owen Jones last time was brilliant as was David Bardsley at the concert) but he acts the role very well. He puts so much into the character and being closer to the stage this time I was aware of so much more interaction and additional words said between the students.

I must say the final death scene on the barricade is still one of the most spectacular bits of staging of the whole show.

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