Les Misérables has stormed the Wales Millennium Centre for the Holidays and you’ll be so glad it has. CAMERON MACKINTOSH’s fan-favourite classic has been updated with a stunning set and lighting design that amplifies the music that we all know and love.
I’m sure by now everyone knows the story, and since it has been a West End staple for over 37 years, I’ll include a few spoilers – so be warned!
Jean Valjean (DEAN CHISNALL), a prisoner for 19 years after stealing a loaf of bread, is given is parole under the watchful eye of guard Javert (NIC GREENSHIELDS). After being given a second chance by a priest, he changes his life and becomes the Major of a town. There he meets Fantine (LAUREN DREW) and after her tragic death, he takes in her child, Cosette (PAIGE BLANKSON) after finding her in the care of the immoral innkeepers, the Thénardiers (IAN HUGHES and HELEN WALSH), and raises her as his own.
Years later, Valjean and Cosette arrive in Paris. Marius (WILL CALLAN), a student, and Cosette fall instantly in love, much to the dismay of the Thénardiers daughter, Eponine (SIOBHAN O’DRISCOLL).
We then meet a gang of students, led by Enjolras (SAMUEL WYN-MORRIS).
After the death of General LeMarque, the students rise to the streets to garner support for the revolution and the barricades are built in the streets of Paris.
The show is such an iconic one that people will always hold it to an impossibly high standard; This performance definitely met that.
The entire cast was outstanding throughout.
Having seen a few different casts on stage and screen, I can honestly say that Dean Chisnall was one of the most talented performers I’ve seen take on the role of Valjean. You often hear that Les Mis leaves ‘no dry eyes in the house’, but with his rendition of Bring Him Home, I know that that statement was certainly true last night.
Lauren Drew (a fellow former Sandfields Comprehensive pupil) sang I Dreamed a Dream with so much passion that it was breathtaking to see and hear.
I’d love to give every one of the outstanding performers a shout-out, but I think this review would be longer than Les Mis itself. The children on stage were especially brilliant too, especially little Gavroche who managed to get everyone in tears.
The really outstanding part of the show, however, was the creative crew. Parts of the show were technical marvels. Set and image designer MATT KINLEY has created some mesmerising set pieces. The reveal of the barricades is always something to look forward to in Les Mis, but this time you really felt a sense of space and the detail that went into creating something so magnificent on stage.
The lighting is something casual theatregoers might not always notice, but it would be impossible not to notice PAULE CONSTABLE’s amazing work. Lighting is crucial to the deaths at the barricade and the use of it in this production made it so sombre and really emphasised the sadness of the scene.
Javert’s final scene is always one I’m interested in seeing as it can be done in some interesting ways. This version was so impactful, and the use of the projections really set the scene.
At the End of the Day, Directors JAMES POWELL and LAURENCE CONNOR have created an outstanding production of this beloved musical. Every person (that I could see anyway) gave a lengthy standing ovation that was very much deserved by the whole cast and crew.
If you’ve seen it one hundred times before, or if you’re new to Les Mis, you won’t regret getting down to the WMC this winter to see this show. This musical is a bucket list viewing, and this production is truly astounding to watch. You will not regret seeing it, in fact, you will probably want to watch it all over again.
The show will run at the Wales Millennium Centre until January 14th with both evening and matinee performances available. Tickets start at £22 and are selling fast so hurry and book your tickets here.