Since catching it on the West End and Broadway, I dreamed a dream that one day, I’d be watching Les Misérables on our very own shores, like my parents did 20 years back.
Now, that day has come and we were more than excited to get a chance to catch it at last.
Les Misérables is eternally on the London stage for good reason – it’s one of the most epic musicals ever produced, and the songs are timeless. True to reputation, this Australian adaptation brought it to life once more, and even brought tears to my eyes in its runtime.
Upon entering the theatre, there was a buzz of excitement as Les Misérables newbies and veterans alike clamoured to each other, some even humming the familiar tunes before the show began. A great hush fell over the audience as the curtains lifted, and I was happy that the beautiful Esplanade theatre had been chosen for this run of the musical, given the superior acoustics and grand demeanour.
Les Misérables is one of those musicals that just never gets old. From the moment the opening number ‘Look Down’ began, the audience was enthralled with the glory of the French Revolution and easily found themselves drawn into the compelling and uncomplicated storyline, following Jean Valjean on his mission to do good while escaping from his past as ‘Prisoner 24601’. Along the way, Les Miz depicts the tragedy of the era, from the demise of prostitute Fantine, to the massive number of deaths incurred when the revolution begins (after ‘One Day More’), and ends up a glorification of revolution
Of note would also be of course, the impressive set, courtesy of Matt Kinley, which was tweaked and improved on for this production. Gorgeous paintings are projected onto the backdrop of the stage, inspired by producer Cameron Mackintosh’s realisation that Victor Hugo (author of the original Les Miz) had a huge collection of paintings himself, and this only added to the grandeur and atmosphere of the musical. The lush backdrop was particularly pertinent in the scene where Javert takes his own life, heightening the sense of regret and making the audience really feel for a character who was initially the big bad of the show.
Fans of the musical familiar with its characteristic revolving set in its other productions will be interested to know that despite it being absent from this production, the staging remains every bit as creative and awe-inspiring. Every scene is Les Miz is essentially a painting brought to life and expertly crafted and directed, and if you took a photo at any given moment, it would be a beautiful freeze frame.
No production of Les Miz is complete without a good Fantine and Patrice Tipoki made her mark with her rendition of Broadway favourite ‘I Dreamed A Dream’, bringing several audience members to tears and eliciting a rousing round of applause from the audience. That’s not to say the rest of the cast weren’t impressive; they were, and Simon Gleeson won his way into audience members’ hearts with his version of Jean Valjean. Equally amazing were the heartbreaking Kerrie Anne Greenland as Eponine, and special mention goes to Paul Wilkins as the dashing upstart Marius, who played the role especially well.
All in all, this production of Les Misérables is certainly something of a smash hit, and locals should take heed to grab tickets while you still can without having to resort to going overseas. The last time Les Misérables came to Singapore was a whopping 20 years ago. Hopefully it won’t be too long before they come back to enchant and move us once again.
Les Misérables plays at the Esplanade until 24 July 2016. l Tickets available from Sistic