Les Miserables may be a cliche, tourist fodder, a pillar of establishment, but still a work of genius. After all these years it never fails to impress that Hugo’s masterpiece was so brilliantly and succinctly distilled for the musical stage.
Succintly, at nearly three hours? Yes, how many months did it take YOU to read the original?
There’s a new and young cast who bring a very robust dynamic to the show this season. I’ve long been critical of the casting of Marius as a slightly wet behind the ears teenager (Nick Jonas, Gareth Gates) but at last Paul Wilkins plays him as a man of substance; intellectual, romantic, but no lightweight.
And the same must certainly be said for Killian Donnelly, one of the youngest Valjeans who has risen to this particular challenge like a colossus. And no one has bettered his vocal range into old age; he didn’t just look like an old man, he sounded like one.
Robust is also the word for our two new leading ladies, joining the delightful Charlotte Kennedy as Cosette. Karis Jack (Eponine) and Carley Stenson (Fantine) have glorious voices and are strong character actors , almost too strong to die young and poorly, Fantine.
It was especially good to see a young family friend Jonny Purchase, a familiar Marius cover, standing in tonight as Enjolras and doing so with power and passion. We rather like the new Thenardier, too, Steven Meo bringing the necessary undertone of menace to the comic facade.
They were, as always, playing to a packed house, many of them clearly tourists. But discerning ones; they will not be disappointed.