Les Miserables - 8 October 1995

10th Anniversary Concert, Albert Hall

What a superb night, it hardly seemed real. By the time we got there at 7.30pm, 1000s were already there and we had to queue to get in. After my first priority of programme, T-shirt and poster we went to our seats. As they had extended the stage we were level with it on the second tier. The stage had three huge screens behind it and prior to the start showed pictures of the original London cast in rehearsal (I would love some of these photos, especially of Frances Ruffelle). The screens were used later for close ups of the performers and captions as to where the action was taking place. Imagine a choir of 160, a 100 piece orchestra, a ensemble of 50 and some of the greatest principals you could have wished for - it was amazing. The atmosphere was brilliant and as the cast / choir came on the excitement rose and when the principals came on the whole hall erupted into cheering and shouting, I don't think they could believe it. The principals sat in a line behind the microphones and went up to the front on cue, who needed scenery they acted the parts wonderfully and had there been a set they'd have been off doing a complete performance, I'm sure. The whole cast were obviously enjoying it immensely.

Colm was as expected and when be got up to do Bring Him Home, I knew this was the definitive version and waited with such anticipation. Philip was superb, he was the first Javert I saw and has yet to be surpassed, he has a voice which resounded around the hall and it is so powerful. I had seen Ruthie as Fantine a few years and she gave an enjoyable performance. Jenny Galloway was a classic Madame Thenardier and the crowd loved her. Alun was at times a little hesitant, but his ‘Master of the House' brought the 'house' down. Michael B was excellent as well, it is hard to know what to expect from him seeing him in concerts and on TV, but he played the character so well, the best time had to be after ‘Empty Chairs at Empty Tables' where through all the applause he just stood absolutely devastated at the loss of his friends.

Now Eponine is my favourite character and I would have loved to have seen Frances Ruffelle. I admire Lea very much, and though she was great, for me she wasn't quite Eponine, perhaps she is so associated with Kim and it is hard to see her as anyone else. She tended to stomp around a bit too much perhaps in an actual performance she would be different. ‘On My Own' was a little harsh, but ‘A Little Fall of Rain' was absolutely lovely.

I love the finale and as the last notes of 'tomorrow comes' filled the hall we could hardly contain ourselves and were there cheering with the other 5000. Following the speeches we had the treat of 17 Valjeans arriving from the back of the hall, each with a Gavroche holding the flag of their country, to Bring him Home and then they sang Do you hear the people sing? in their own language. I just didn't want it to end and would have sat through the concert again and again. We exited singing Do you hear the people sing to some funny looks !.

To complete the perfect evening I hung around the stage door to see who I could see and I got Claude-Michel (who was in a bit of a daze ~ then if you'd had that response to your music, who wouldn't be) and John Caird to sign my poster which now has pride of place at home. All in all a fantastic night, which took me a good week to come down from and will be a wonderful memory to keep (until 2005 and WEMBLEY !!!!) For once I was the lucky one and can relive the concert and instead of imaging it from other people's reviews. It doesn't happen that way often.