Hadley & Les Mis: the only way to spend a Saturday

A guest review of the London production of Les Misérables from Scolytinae:

Hadley Fraser as JavertAs I am a huge Hadley Fraser fan, I should warn you in advance—this review may be a little biased!  I had booked my tickets back in April and was eagerly anticipating both the show and just how Hadley would interpret this complex character, my expectations were high, and I am happy to report that they were met, then exceeded tenfold!

 From the moment he strode on stage to hand Valjean his “yellow ticket of leave”, Hadley grabbed the role and made it his own.  His Javert was not a cold, calculating villain, but rather a man driven by his own certainties—you break the law, you are punished—you are a lawbreaker, you are unworthy, and it’s this that ensures his dogged pursuit of Valjean across the years.  Every time they encounter each other, Javert is bested by Valjean, and this sense of growing frustration came over so well.   One particularly memorable moment for me was after the students had fallen at the barricade. Javert returns and, in a very agitated manner, searches through the corpses looking for Valjean.   When it becomes clear he isn’t amongst the bodies, Hadley’s cry of rage and despair was something to behold.

 “Stars” is one of my favourite songs from the show, and I have heard it performed many times, but never quite as well as this.  I was obviously not alone in that opinion, as the thunderous applause began long before that amazing final note finished.  This moment was only surpassed by the incredible suicide scene.  As Valjean slips through his fingers yet again, you really begin to feel for Javert and watch in dismay as he begins to lose his grip on the world.  There really is no place for him to go, and with wild hair and dishevelled clothing, he clambers over the railings, throws himself off the bridge and, with clever use of lighting and the centre revolve of the stage,  is swept away.  A breathtaking moment, with Hadley not just singing but acting every note.

One of the many things that struck me was just how physical the show was.  Students, and the more senior cast members, clambering up, down and across the magnificent barricade, an incredible fight between Valjean and Javert, culminating in Alfie Boe smashing a chair and brandishing the broken leg in Hadley’s face, and, after Javert is revealed as a spy and handed over to Valjean, Alfie throws Hadley against a wall and pins him there with a musket under the chin!   All this whilst singing too—you certainly need stamina to be in this production! 

Ah, yes—there were other people up there on stage too!  The entire cast was absolutely superb, and mentioning everyone’s individual performance could take some time!  Instead, I’ll just say that this young cast have gelled together so well since June, and are producing some quite incredible performances.  I must however give a quick mention to the lovely Alfie Boe, magnificent as ever and who gave an incredibly moving performance, and Cameron Blakely who took over the role of Thénardier following Matt Lucas’ departure last week.  He has a lovely voice and gave us some genuinely funny moments, his timing was spot on.   I loved the little girl who played young Cosette.   She was such a tiny, fragile looking little thing, and the pail to fetch the water from the well in the wood was almost as big as she was!  This didn’t stop her from delivering a lovely “Castle on a Cloud.”  It was such a pity she wasn’t able to return to take her bow at the end.

It may be 26 years old, but Les Misérables shows no signs of ageing or of losing its appeal, as the “House Full” sign at the door on a sunny Saturday afternoon attested to.  It looks great, sounds fabulous and, with performances like this, means that this is a situation that isn’t going to change any time soon!  Quite simply, this is musical theatre at its very best.

Thanks, Scolytinae!   Now I’m even more desperate to get to London to see this production.  Great bug name, too.  (My guests get to pick their own!) 

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8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mike Scolytinae on September 21, 2011 at 10:20 am

    This is Mike, Scolytinae’s husband: I think this is a very good and fair review. I would however like to add that Alexia Khadime was excellent as Eponine, she has a wonderful voice, and what is more she Tweeted me! As has already been stated it was an excellent show without any weak links, which is unusual in my experience.

    Reply

    • Posted by Angie Scholey on September 23, 2011 at 9:37 am

      Aww, thanks hubby! (I wouldn’t let him read it until it had been sent, so I’m pleased it gets his seal of approval!) So pleased he got Tweeted by Alexia Khadime, she was an excellent Eponine. What a day we had.

      Reply

  2. Posted by Nelia Green on September 21, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Thanks for your “short story” review. Would love to see Hadley Fraser inhabit Javert…description of interaction between him and Valjean sounds fierce…wish I could see it in LONDON – SOL…

    Just a few weeks ago, did see Les Mis 25th Tour at Buell in Denver – sold out 2225 seats with everyone standing in ovation … BRILLIANT production! Beautifully cast with an amazing, tough Andrew Varela as Javert.

    Reply

    • Posted by Angie Scholey on September 23, 2011 at 9:40 am

      Thanks for the kind words – Hadley is an amazing actor/singer, and I think this role is so right for him. Glad you enjoyed the production in Denver, that sounds like some ovation! I feel this must be one of the best shows ever written.

      Reply

      • Posted by Nelia Green on September 25, 2011 at 12:54 pm

        I think so also – anxious to see him in complete performance – POTO 25th. Also had intended to comment on amazing LONG, LIGHT COLORED WIG – like the way it looks on him. Is it an older Javert in taupe/gray?

        Reply

        • Posted by Angie Scholey on September 28, 2011 at 9:26 am

          So looking forward to POTO25 – something different for him to get to grips with. Am dragging hubby off to the cinema to see it, not quite the same as being there but probably a better view! Doesn’t he look great in that wig? The make up was incredible and he looked convincing as the older Javert. He wore some amazing hats in the early part of the show – much preferred to see an uncluttered head as he got older.

          Reply

  3. Posted by ms.Lee on November 4, 2011 at 8:16 am

    I often thought that I am a very few Les mis fan(maybe… just foreign fan, anyway.) who love Hadley Fraser Javert. Now, I realized that I am not alone. Yes. I like your review. Although His voicecolor somehow mismatch Javert’s tone(I think He seems to match Jean Valjean more), He showed wonderful expression and brilliant interpretation. HIs javert suicide and stars is fabulous!
    Animalistic Quaility, this point is why I think he is brilliant actor. Frankly, It’s not a book so Anybody took their job on the same way-Javert is cold, stiil man. I think He did his javert on his way, perfectly matched him. He is a wonderful tenor, not Bass! And I just listened to his bootleg… frankly, I thought, He did his role FAR better than other ordinary javert. He is one of the my favorite javert. 🙂 Why didn’t Les mis fans admit him? EUHHH. I knew. Jeff Nicholson’ Javert who understudy Javert last year is original-based, and perfect. But, Hadley Fraser is great, too. Again : why didn’t Les mis fan admit him?

    Reply

  4. Posted by Angie Scholey on November 4, 2011 at 10:52 am

    Thank you for your kind words and don’t worry, you’re most definately not alone, there are many Hadley fans out here! He is a great actor/singer and has really brought something special to the role of Javert – he has done it his way, not copied those that have gone before and I think it works really well. I agree with you, the suicide scene was absolutely amazing,such power and emotion. Les Mis is just one of the best musicals ever written.

    Reply

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