Les Miserables - 18 February 1999

Valjean and Javert junior continue the chase !!, well that is what could have been derived from the current London cast. This is no criticism of the performances but in John Owen Jones we must have the youngest Valjean to date. But for his youth John Owen Jones brings a strong Valjean to the cast, he has a wonderful voice and adds many nice touches to Valjean’s character. Eddie Burton was covering for Tim Morgan and although he acted the part well and has a good voice, he is tenor and for me Javert has to be a baritone so in hearing him you know the strength behind his character and resolve.

Dianne Pilkington was understudying for Silvie Paladino and gave a good performance as Fantine and I’m glad she also added the touch I saw last time when at the end of the show she kneels in front of Valjean and as he puts his hand to her face her place is taken by Cosette. A nice piece of direction.

The young leads were all new to me, Amanda Salmon as Eponine, Tom Lucas as Marius and Rebecca Vere as Cosette. I really liked Amanda’s Eponine, she sang n emotional On My Own almost crying the last ‘I Love Him’ and this followed with an extremely touching ‘Little fall of rain’. This was the first time I’d seen Eponine kiss Marius and I like how in her last dying breathe she gets her dearest wish. Tom Lucas has transferred from the pop world to theatre admirably and was a good Marius. One of the things I look for in any performance in Les Miz is the strength of relationship between Marius and Eponine. Tom and Amanda certainly brought their relationship to the fore and I particularly liked the embrace, joy on Marius’s part finding Cosette and a moment of bliss for Eponine, prior to In My life. Following Annalene Beechey’s Cosette is a tough act and although Rebecca sings /acts well she provides quite an ordinary Cosette.

Paul Manuel is an extremely striking Enjolras and hits those high notes beautifully and fully. He interacts constantly with the other students bringing out their individual relationships. I wasn’t fond of Teddy Kempner and Liz Ewing’s Thenardiers. The characters seem to have lost some of their nastiness for larger than life.

At curtain calls I thought that the company looked smaller than usual and only realised later that 3 of the men were missing which would explain a couple of lines which were missing. But in the circumstances these little blips could be excused. The company provided excellent support to the principals. An overall excellent performance with only Javert and the Thenardiers not as I like them to be played, no criticism of the performers, that is just my preference !

1 March 1999