Let’s face it – it’s one of those productions. You’ve heard of it, you know a few of the songs, you might have even seen the movie with the big-name Hollywood A-listers. But if you haven’t actually seen the stage production, you haven’t lived.
We’re fully aware that this is a bold statement to make, but when it was announced that Les Misérables would actually be touring around the UK, never mind storming the barricades, the theatre going public of Britain started storming box offices around the country. But would it live up to the inevitable high expectations?
When we headed to press night, we decided to really test this out – we took along someone who’s seen it previously in the West End five times and confesses to being a bit of a Les Mis obsessive (yes, she’s seen the film, and wasn’t that impressed). So, could this seemingly iconic production really transfer to the regional theatre stage? Would the passion still be there? Would the lack of revolving barricade spoil it? Questions, questions…we were about to find out!
From the moment the live orchestra sounded the very first note, the entire theatre fell silent with both excitement and emotion – now if you haven’t ever seen it, they’ll be no spoliers here, but it is an emotional rollercoaster. You will laugh, you will cry (probably a few times), you will also be mesmerised by the performances. From the children in the cast, through the ensemble and the main characters – they all put in performances of a lifetime. We want to single out Killian Donnelly (Jean Valjean) and Tegan Bannister (Eponine) for some first-class praise – their voices were so controlled and yet so full of passion at the same time, it was utterly compelling.
The sets and costumes were lavish yet worked perfectly to transport you into this difficult and turbulent time in French history. And no, it makes no difference that the barricade doesn’t revolve (as per the West End version) it is there to convey the atmosphere, the passion and ultimately the futility of the street battle that ensues.
The production is not for the fain-hearted – it is around three hours in length with a short 15 minute interval but it doesn’t feel laboured at all, it’s fast-paced and keeps you engaged with the story, the characters and, of course, the music.
Those huge musical numbers that most people recognise as soon as the first bar is struck really make the hairs on the back of your neck stand to attention; I Dreamed A Dream; Do You Hear The People Sing?; On My Own; Bring Him Home – the list just goes on. But our favourite was arguably the less well known Master Of The House…
a drinking song, sung with gusto, passion and real dose of slapstick comedy thrown in, not what you’d expect in Les Misérables.
So, after the final curtain fell on this iconic production, what did our Les Misérables obsessed super-fan think? Safe to say she was very, very impressed – her three-word review; stunning, mind-blowing and passionate…what more can you want from a theatre production, we would ask?
Les Misérables is undoubtedly a must-see theatrical rite of passage and right now you can see it at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 8th June.
For best availability; Monday to Thursday performances. Call the theatre’s dedicated Les Misérables booking line on 01908 547669 (open Monday to Saturday, 12 – 6pm) or visit: https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/les-miserables/milton-keynes-theatre/. And keep checking for daily returns and last-minute ticket releases.