1st June 2020
In the latter half of 2019, the Queens’ Theatre in London went through major refurbishment. Whilst the theatre closed and Les Miserables couldn’t perform in the venue, it moved next door to the Gielgud Theatre, where it played for 16 weeks in concert form with a stellar cast. A filmed version of the concert has now been released digitally on platforms including Amazon.
Les Miserables has been running in the West End for 34 years, making it the longest running musical in London. The musical, with music by Claude-Michel Schonberg and lyrics by Alan Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel (translated into English by Herbert Kretzmer), tells the story of convict Jean Valjean who gets let out of jail on parole but decides to break his parole and begin a new life. He is constantly hunted by Inspector Javert and we see their struggle through the show. This is set against a backdrop of a French revolution and this brings a love triangle to the show.
Despite this being a concert version of the classic musical, the show still has great production values. Matt Kinley’s design, although much simplified from the full scale production, works wonderfully to depict the different locations. Paule Constable and Warren Letton’s lighting is truly spectacular and really makes this production. As there is such little movement on stage, the lighting is really crucial and it helps to show the different settings. Christine Rowland and Andreane Neofitou’s costumes are excellent – the production is fully costumed and this helps to make the simplified production visually appealing. The simplicity of the staging of this production really just proves how timeless and epic the music is. The music tells the story brilliantly, although it definitely helps to have an idea of the plot before watching this concert version of Les Miserables.
Les Miserables in Concert boasts an all star cast. Leading the company as Jean Valjean is Alfie Boe. Boe’s vocal performance is truly captivating and his version of Bring Him Home is very moving. Michael Ball returns to Les Miserables as Javert. He does a good job and acts the role brilliantly. His rendition of Stars is strong and he makes a great enemy to Boe as Valjean. Matt Lucas adds some comedy to the show as Thenardier. He adds the much needed laughs and gets plenty of them although, at times, he does take it a little too far though and adds a bit too much of himself. Katy Secombe plays Madame Thenardier and her performance is fantastic. She is equally as hilarious but slightly less over the top. Secombe and Lucas make a brilliant duo though.
Rob Houchen reprises his role as Marius and he does not disappoint. His acting is sensational, his vocals are brilliant and he has a great chemistry with Lily Kerhoas as Cosette. Kerhoas’ voice is stunning and she brings a great warmth to the stage. Shan Ako plays Eponine and she is outstanding. Her performance of ‘On My Own’ is very powerful and her vocals throughout are incredibly strong. Ako has a great chemistry with Houchen as well, although some of Eponine’s moments are cut for the concert version so the relationship is slightly less developed. Bradley Jaden returns to Les Mis as Enjolras and he also gives an exceptional performance. His vocals are outstanding and the bonus finale performance from him shows he will make a very capable Javert.
Carrie Hope Fletcher returns to Les Miserables to now play Fantine. Fletcher steals the show in the role. ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ is wonderfully acted and sung and Fletcher’s entire performance is emotionally charged and fully believable, despite the lack of staging.
Les Miserables in Concert is a wonderful celebration of the brilliant, world famous music and it boasts some brilliant performances. Some poignant moments are missing though as the musical has been abridged. A little more movement wouldn’t have gone amiss as the battle scenes looked a little strange with the cast simply standing still.
Les Miserables in Concert is available to purchase digitally on Amazon, the Sky Store and iTunes Store for £9.99. £5 of each purchase will be split between Acting for Others, the Musicians’ Union Coronavirus Fund and Captain Tom Moore’s Walk for the NHS fund.
Featured Image Credit: Michael Le Poer Trench