‘Les Miserables’ (London, 2018) – Theatre Review

By Hannah Miller – As the longest running musical in the West End, Les Miserables celebrated its 33rd year at on the 8th October, which incidentally is when I managed to see it. Having already seen the show, I was very aware of how emotional it makes…

By Hannah Miller

As the longest running musical in the West End, Les Miserables celebrated its 33rd year at on the 8th October, which incidentally is when I managed to see it. Having already seen the show, I was very aware of how emotional it makes me, but even so, it still managed to blow me away.

Bradley Jadon stole the show as Javert. Having previously played some of my favourite roles within musical theatre (Enjolras in Les Miserables and Fiyero in Wicked), I probably went in with a biased opinion of him, expecting a lot. He lived up this high standard, with Stars being one of the stand out moments of the show for me.

Controversially, I wasn’t a fan of the portrayal of both Fantine and Eponine in this cast. With these two characters being favourites of mine, I was disappointed with how they were; Carley Stenson who played Fantine, didn’t lack in emotion at all. Her Fantine was brilliant, yet I just felt that her voice didn’t suit the role. Eponine is, like most teenage girls who were obsessed with Les Mis, a role that will always be special to me. Yet, I just found that Elena Skye, who played her, didn’t do the role justice.  

Dean Chisnall was an outstanding Jean Valjean. His rendition of Bring Him Home brought the house down, and was easily a highlight of the performance. With Jean Valjean being a tough role to play due to the vocal range the actor is going to need, it’s easy to get wrong. Yet, he was note perfect for the entire show and captured the emotion of the character perfectly.

Other outstanding actors in the performance were Samuel Edwards, playing Enjolras. He managed to capture the characteristics of the stubborn revolutionary perfectly, and still managed to show his softer side during Drink With Me, a portrayal that perfectly encapsulated the conflicting sides to his personality that Hugo wrote in the original novel. Amara Okereke and Toby Miles stood out as Cosette and Marius respectively. Having both just graduated this year from Arts Educational School, and this being Miles’ West End and professional debut, it is outstanding how good they are and the joy they brought to the show with their innocence from their characters. Stephen Meo and Vivien Parry were also amazing as Monsieur and Madame Thendardier, their comic timing gave the show its much needed comic relief. Yet ‘The Sewers’ gave a well needed reminder of just how depraved they actually were, as Meo’s rendition felt particularly jarring. Of course, Les Miserables isn’t complete without its extensive chorus. They all were incredibly strong and helped carry the show, making it an extremely strong and moving production.

Going on the musicals 33rd birthday was an even more special experience. I would definitely regard Les Miserables as being my favourite musical, so just to see it performed is amazing enough. But to have the cast come out on stage and sing happy birthday to it was even more special and it felt amazing to celebrate this musical that has meant so much to me, along with the cast and so many other fans.  

One thought on “‘Les Miserables’ (London, 2018) – Theatre Review”

  1. I am a Les Mis obsessive fan, who saw the stage show with 3 casts- at Central Piedmont Community, the West End, and on tour in Greenville. I was very smart coming into the US Tour: by NOT comparing that cast to who I saw in London.

    My most recent cast consisted of Nick Cartell (Jean Valjean), Josh Davis (Javert), Melissa Mitchell (Fantine), Jillian Butler (Cosette), understudy Talia Simone Robinson (Eponine), Matt Shingledecker (Enjolras), J. Anthony Crane (Monsieur Thenardier) and Allison Guinn (Madame Thenardier)- they were my US Tour. I will talk more about them below.

    Nick Cartell was an impressive Valjean with a “Bring Him Home” that sounded like a prayer, and strong and quiet enough for what the scene required: that performance made him a standout.

    Josh Davis mastered the voice of Javert and delivered a fine rendition of “Stars”, but still lacked in something: I struggle with Javert actors because I find it hard to find common ground with them or even feel any kind of sympathy with them.

    Mellissa Mitchell’s version of Fantine was a more naive version of the character: it still worked in my opinion.

    The love triangle was a bit surprising: basically: “what happens when your favorite character in the love triangle is Eponine, but your strongest actor is Marius”. That is exactly what happened: Joshua Grosso was the strongest actor of all three of them- embodied Marius perfectly with Jillian Butler matching perfectly making them such an adorable Marius and Cosette. This love triangle struggled at first, but eventually got to where it needed to go. I found moments where Talia Simone Robinson shined as Eponine- she slowly grew into the role. I still think it was interesting how Joshua Grosso was the strongest actor found in this love triangle- one of the standouts.

    The two Thenardiers: Allison Guinn and J. Anthony Crane were hilarious as the Thenardiers- I got that laugh.

    Matt Shingledecker was such a passionate and confident Enjolras.

    The ensemble was quite epic, powerful and passionate. By NOT COMPARING the tour to who I saw in London, I was able to see all of the strengths found in the US Tour- it is highly important not to compare casts.


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