Posts Tagged ‘London’

Ramin Karimloo’s “Thank You” Gig

Helsbrownie was one of the lucky few chosen to attend Ramin Karimloo’s special performance last night.  150 fans were invited to an intimate show as a way of thanking them for their loyalty and patience, since the release date of his new CD has been delayed more than once.  Here is her exclusive report:

You don’t get much for free these days, so when someone offers you something for nothing, I find it best to grab it with both hands.  On that basis, Monday night found me in a hot and sweaty basement bar near Oxford Street awaiting Ramin Karimloo’s “thank you” gig.

My verdict: anyone heading to the upcoming tour is in for a real treat.  We heard a few songs from the album including Constant Angel and Coming Home as well as a new composition, tentatively titled Here I Go, which has a Sheytoons-esque feel.  I was thrilled to hear some Sheytoons material which I hadn’t been expecting, given Hadley Fraser’s absence. But the highlights for me were the covers.  Everyone went mad for Raining in Baltimore by the Counting Crows, but my personal favourite ended the night: Green Day—Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).  The song suits Ramin’s voice beautifully, with a little country music addition in the middle by one of his guitarists.  Ramin stayed away from any musical theatre numbers, which was the right choice as they wouldn’t really have suited the venue, although Bring Him Home would have been stunning in the intimate space.

I think Ramin’s voice is incredible.  His ability to adapt to different musical styles effortlessly puts him in a class above other performers who try to vary their repertoire.  He is a performer comfortable in his own skin and clearly has a genuine relationship with his band, thus creating a lovely atmosphere for the audience.  There was an awful lot of talent on the stage—the band included two guitarists, keyboard, percussion, two violins and a cello, as well as Ramin varying between guitar, banjo and keyboard.  I very much hope some, if not all, are joining him on tour.

Ramin had asked that no-one record the gig (not that this stopped at least one disrespectful guy) and instead passed round his own video camera.  It is definitely worth keeping an eye out for that official footage to appear, once he has edited it.

Overall, I was very impressed by Ramin’s performance and his general attitude.  While he clearly used the gig as a rehearsal for his upcoming tours, he was generous not to charge for entry and he obviously spent a lot of time organising it—he had to send around 150 individual emails to those of us attending.  Most impressively, at the end, he stood at the door and said goodbye to everyone individually—like a line-up at a wedding!  When I approached, he knew my name (I cannot understand how) and seemed genuinely keen to know if I’d enjoyed the gig. Suffice to say I left on a high, both from that meeting and from the music.

Roll on the tour!

Thank you, helsbrownie!   We’re grateful to you for sharing your experience, not to mention envious of your good fortune!

Something Phantastic This Way Comes

This past year, I’ve had a number of guest bloggers contribute to The Ugly Bug Ball.  It’s fun for me to let others do the work!  Here’s a review of Love Never Dies from my friend Dragonfly (aka Nelia).

“Try to deny it

And try to protest

But love won’t let you go

Once you’ve been possessed”

First, may I say that the direct feed of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies to cinemas was simply STUNNING! It was fun and exciting to share this special event with a dozen friends in Denver.  I trust that my review can be fair and objective as I also had the opportunity to see the original London production several times, as well as viewing this filmed version of the Melbourne production twice.

I was personally fascinated by the grainy film clips in the video introducing “The Coney Island Waltz” for the 2009 London press release.  Between Ramin Karimloo’s poignant “Till I Hear You Sing” video and the Waltz, I was immediately hooked on the show’s premise.  The draw was so powerful; I simply had to go the London to see this production with Ramin and to meet him.  I adored seeing Love Never Dies and have been a loyal supporter of the production and cast since it was introduced.

The London production of Love Never Dies gave me the impression that the sparsely furnished and populated sets had “tour” in mind.  Lots of digital projections lent an air of shadowy nostalgia with the funky, vintage Coney Island film footage.  Overall, my memory of seeing LND is essentially grey tones, muted colors and some bright metallic elements.  Perhaps if the Australian production’s imaginative and colorful stage/costume design had been introduced in London, the show would still be successfully running at the Adelphi, and perhaps on Broadway.

The Carousel (Australia)

Carousel in The Coney Island Waltz (Australia)

A vibrant, beautifully crafted and edited film,  Love Never Dies has a good balance of close-ups and long shots; the Felini-esque result doesn’t look or feel like a stage production, but somehow more expansive than the physical limitations a theatrical stage would impose.  This LIVE performance (not dubbed) was filmed over four days, and includes some minimal audience response.  The original cast score, which was recorded a year before the London opening, is beautiful, brilliant, and sophisticated.  It’s a magical, musical rollercoaster ride of intrigue, passion, kidnapping, mystery, and secrets revealed.

The Coney Island Waltz (Australia)

The Coney Island Waltz (Australia)

The basic plot remains essentially the same as the original London production, with a few important changes.  I really liked the new opening scenes:  Phantom performs “Till I Hear You Sing” in the Prologue; then the story opens with “The Coney Island Waltz” in present time, which I think provides a positive and energetic momentum, allowing the story to unfold seamlessly, rather than having London’s essentially depressing, bleak look-back on what had been—before the tragedy…

It would be difficult to discuss all of the wonderful scenes here, so I’ve selected one, from both productions, that stands out:  “The Beauty Underneath.”

The Beauty Underneath

The Beauty Underneath (Australia)

Australia:  A beautiful and fascinating, complex forest of structural elements, and tall glass cases containing a variety of living creatures from a mermaid, to freaks and oddities of all sorts.  I especially liked having a stage full of ensemble players, which lent a frenetic energy and dynamic to the scene as a whole.

The Beauty Underneath (London)

The Beauty Underneath (London)

London:  The Aerie, Phantom’s workshop high above Phantasma, featured many of his bizarre magical, mechanical, and artistic creations.  Phantom and Gustave are essentially alone on stage for much of this scene.

THE PLAYERS

Ben Lewis (Australia) has a trained operatic voice; he’s not a copy of Ramin, but stands firm on his own merit.  Ben’s delivery is technically precise, he’s an intense, anguished, mysterious, menacing, and remote Phantom – reminds me a bit of Gary Oldman’s strangely sensual Dracula when gliding around in his elegant full length robe.

In this filmed version, we don’t get much of a look at Phantom’s disfigurement, which is disappointing, especially after all the time and energy spent in creating and applying the make-up and complicated prosthetics.  We want to see what all the fuss is about…

Anna O'Byrne and Ben Lewis in the Australia production

Anna O'Byrne and Ben Lewis (Australia)

Ramin Karimloo’s unique voice is unequaled in its straightforward, energetic raw and sensual passion, untrained rock delivery, and uninhibited honesty resonating on a primal level right into my heart…

Anna O’Byrne (Australia) and Sierra Boggess (London) are equally excellent as Christine.  Each is classically trained, beautiful, feminine, and comfortable in the trappings of the Victorian era costumes and hairdos.

Sierra Boggess and Ramin Karimloo (London)

Sierra Boggess and Ramin Karimloo (London)

Sharon Millerchip (Australia) is a perky, petite, energetic, talented dancer and singer with a broad emotional range, and perfectly cast as Meg Giry, Ooh La La Girl.

Sharon Millerchip as Meg (Australia)

Sharon Millerchip as Meg and the Ooh La La Girls in Only For You (Australia)

I’m passionate about film; I enjoy comfortable stadium seating and the magic of an image flickering on the silver screen in the dark.  Being on the less than tall side, I’m generally plagued with a “HEAD” obscuring view of the stage, especially when I’ve spent $100 for a theatre ticket.  I believe that digital technology has now opened up a new avenue, offering an unequaled opportunity to experience stage productions and other special events via live feed and edited film, and it’s definitely here to stay.  I’ll line up early and often to enjoy an unobstructed view for under $20.

Australia’s Love Never Dies run is coming to a close; we’re so fortunate that a record of this amazing production has been captured, and that we can own a piece of it via this filmed version.  I think the possibility of a Broadway run at this point is remote—the success of the DVD could change that outcome.

I’m in LOVE with LOVE on stage and screen….

Thank you, Dragonfly!  Your passion certainly comes through here.  Love Never Dies has its US DVD release on May 29, 2012.

All the images used here are from press sources.  The Australian production photos were taken by Jeff Busby.  No copyright infringement is intended.

Les Misérables: The Day of The Understudies!

Once again, my friend Scolytinae brings us a review of the West End production of Les Misérables, after her excellent piece on the version with Alfie Boe as Valjean last autumn.  She and her husband braved the bad winter weather to see Ramin Karimloo in the role, only to be met with a few surprises:

Let’s be honest, you don’t actually need an excuse for a repeat visit to Les Misérables, but I must admit that the prospect of seeing Ramin Karimloo as Jean Valjean persuaded us to make a return trip only 4 short months after our last excursion.  So you can imagine our disappointment when on arrival at Queen’s Theatre, we were greeted with notices in the foyer stating that due to the indisposition of Ramin Karimloo, the role of Jean Valjean would be played by Christopher Jacobsen.

Settled in our seats, we philosophically decided that “these things happen.” As a Twitter user I knew that Ramin’s recent Japanese tour had taken a lot out of him and that he was struggling, but then came an announcement that the roles of Marius and Enjolras would also be played by understudies.  We looked at each other—this would definitely be a different show to the one we had seen last September!

However, I would now like to go on record to say that this was one of the finest performances I have ever seen.  Christopher Jacobsen was simply stunning.  A powerful actor as well as singer, he brought us a Valjean of contrasts—burning passion at the injustices he suffered, yet a quiet dignity as he determined to throw off his past, start again, and make things right.  Opposite the magnificent Hadley Fraser as Javert, it felt like a whole new dynamic had appeared as the two of them faced off against each other, on occasion speaking rather than singing some of their lines as they circled each other, vying for control of the situation.

I thought Hadley was fabulous when I saw him last year, but over the ensuing months, his Javert has evolved—still intractable and inexorably driven, but now almost a sense of vulnerability.  Valjean’s manner and treatment of him was just so far outside his view of the natural order that he simply could not cope.  There was a particularly poignant moment during the suicide scene where he sings “I am the law and the law is not mocked.” At this point, he valiantly tries to regain his control and composure by pulling his lapels together and buttoning up that iconic overcoat—magic.  Thunderous applause greeted both his featured songs, and rightly so. This man is a true performer.

Marius was played by the impossibly cute Fra Fee—and what a fabulous performance it was.  Such depth and emotion from one so young; I am not ashamed to admit to a few tears after “A Little Fall of Rain,” beautifully portrayed opposite the superb Alexia Khadime.  I’m sure my hubby won’t mind me saying that he reached for the tissues too at this point!  What a beautiful voice this young man has, and such presence on stage.  I sincerely hope he’s a name to watch out for in the future.

Enjolras was beautifully played by Scott Garnham, who led his students with an understated strength and authority.  I just loved the interaction between all the students, and Adam Linstead’s Grantaire was a triumph.  In fact, I was so impressed by everyone who stepped up to fill roles vacated by the leads.  If I have to be critical, and maybe I should to prove that I can be objective where Les Mis is concerned, the only weak spot was the youngster who played Gavroche. Whether it was down to nerves, I don’t know, but he had a rather shaky start, rushing some of his lines and throwing some away completely.  He did soon settle down, and there was a huge gasp from the audience during the scene where he was shot whilst collecting ammunition.  You know, I must be getting old, because both he and the young girl playing Cosette seemed so small and fragile, almost like they should be at home tucked up in bed rather than up onstage!!

If there were any negative vibes emanating from people who bought tickets expecting to see Ramin Karimloo, then Christopher Jacobsen certainly wasn’t affected by them.  It must be a daunting feeling to step onstage knowing that many people in the audience wish you weren’t there.  Christopher simply took the audience by storm, and seemed genuinely overwhelmed by his rapturous reception at the end.  So much so that, after taking center stage for a few seconds, he called the cast back onstage to join him for another bow, to happily acknowledge the lengthy standing ovation which was a fitting end to a truly incredible show.  A day of understudies it may have been, but it is a tribute to the depth of talent in British musical theatre that this didn’t matter one iota—we heard the people sing, and they were fantastic!

Thank you, Scolytinae!  It sounds like a great afternoon of theatre.  It looks like we’ll have to add Christopher Jacobsen, Fra Fee, and Scott Garnham to our growing list of favorite West End actors.

See also: Beg, Borrow or Steal to See Les Misérables

Beg, Borrow or Steal to See Les Misérables

I am very lucky to have friends who are willing to write reviews for me.  Last month I published Scolytinae’s guest review of the London production of Les Misérables.  Another friend saw the musical this week, and here are her impressions: 

Les Miserables logo Queen's Theatre, LondonLes Misérables – Queen’s Theatre, London

I first saw Les Mis on stage when I was 17 at a local theatre in Yorkshire and have loved it ever since, but it has taken me almost 15 years to see it again.  Despite living in London for several years and seeing many plays and musicals during that time, for some unfathomable reason I never went to see Les Mis.  Seeing the Matt Lucas “I Dreamed A Dream” documentary was the trigger that finally got me to go and see it in the West End.

Due to a mix up in booking the tickets, I first saw the show in August with Jonathan Williams as Jean Valjean and then again in September with Alfie Boe in the lead role.  Since then, I have become slightly addicted to the Les Mis booking website and can now look forward to a further two visits this year alone.  I’m hoping for some kind of loyalty discount from Cameron Mackintosh, especially as Ramin Karimloo is joining the cast to take over from Alfie Boe in November.

Thursday night was my third visit.  Previously, I had seats in the dress circle and at the back of the stalls, but this time we had front row seats in the stalls at the right hand side.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but we certainly were close to the stage and to the orchestra—perhaps too close to the orchestra, as we could hear the brass section chatting at times.  On the plus side, my eye did keep being drawn to the conductor and it was fascinating to see him directing the cast as well as the orchestra—I got a real insight into how much work must go into getting the timing right.

Being so close to the stage meant we could see every facial expression of the cast and that did really add an extra element, particularly in all the Valjean/Javert double handers.  However, on the down side, it did mean the cast could make eye contact with us, which was slightly disconcerting.  I didn’t quite know where to look when three of the factory workers sang “At the End of the Day” while staring directly into my eyes.  Goodness knows what I would have done if Alfie or Hadley had made eye contact……

Alfie Boe and Hadley Fraser, Les Miserables

Alfie Boe and Hadley Fraser

The heart of the show is undoubtedly Alfie Boe’s Jean Valjean playing against Hadley Fraser’s feral Javert, but this visit I appreciated what an ensemble piece it is, with Eponine, Javert, Marius and Fantine having strong songs of their own.  This company is very talented, and I warmed to Caroline Sheen’s Fantine and Lisa-Anne Wood’s portrayal of Cosette much more than previously.  Due to the wonders of twitter, I could pick out members of the ensemble, and particular praise should go to Fra Fee and James Charlton—both have amazing voices.

Alfie Boe is sublime as Valjean, but his performance did seem the same as the first time I saw him.  There’s nothing I can put my finger on; it may just be that in contrast to all the other major characters, he has not developed the role any further, and there’s certainly no need.  Perhaps I’m getting too used to hearing his voice and don’t appreciate him fully.  My friend was certainly blown away by the power and control of his singing.

 

Scott Garnham as Enjolras

Scott Garnham (not wearing Enjolras wig!)

Scott Garnham and Adam Linstead deserve special mention.  Scott played Enjolras, as Liam Tamne was away.  Leaving aside the fact that the hair & make-up team managed to make a good-looking man unattractive, there was little to fault in his portrayal of Enjolras, and he was more believable in the role than Liam.  I would love to see what he would do with the role on a more permanent basis.  Adam Linstead’s Grantaire wins the “most improved” award.  He has really grown into this role and added a lot to it since I saw him last.  He starts as a laid-back bon viveur with the complexities of the character coming out in the emotional barricade scenes.

I was intrigued to see how Cameron Blakely would take on Thénardier—no mean feat to step into Matt Lucas’ shoes.  He has kept the role pretty similar and in the first half was easily a match to Matt—his “Master of The House” was superb.  However, he didn’t have the necessary menace in the sewer scenes, and the comedy was lacking a bit in the wedding scene.  It is early days though, so I will be interested to see how he develops the role.

Hadley Fraser as Javert, Les Miserables, London, Queen's Theatre

Hadley Fraser as Javert

I have tried to be as objective as I can, but in my eyes, Hadley Fraser can do no wrong.   I’ve yet to see anything less than stunning performances in all the YouTube clips, and I was also lucky enough to be at the Phantom 25th Anniversary concert a few weeks ago.  I read a recent interview with Hadley where he said he was trying to bring out the animalistic side of Javert.  I have to say, he has really developed this side of the character since my last visit.  There were times where he really seemed only half-human and more like a feral dog, albeit one with a lot of pent-up anger and confusion.  He was quite terrifying to watch from the front row, and I was glad he had a firm grasp of the truncheon, as I would not have wanted that flung across my face.

All in all, it was a fantastic evening.  If you like Les Mis or musical theatre in general, this cast is an absolute must-see.  I am excited about the prospect of Ramin Karimloo joining.  I can’t imagine him as Jean Valjean, but for me that only adds to the anticipation.

I’m not really a fan of hanging around the stage door, but I still managed to act like a crazy fan girl.  While waiting for a taxi on the street afterwards, I spotted Hadley walking past us, and I squealed “Oh, there’s Hadley!” to my friend.  He looked at me a bit oddly, so I think he heard—oh, the embarrassment….  But then he sloped off into the night, looking very slight and laid-back—quite a difference to the Javert who had been towering over us so menacingly half an hour before.

Thank you, helsbrownie!   You’re a star for taking the time to write this for us.

Yes, Ramin Karimloo will be replacing Alfie Boe as Valjean at the end of November, performing six times a week from November 29, 2011, through March 3, 2012.  Karimloo and Fraser, together again!

POTO25: Curtain Call and Encores

 

Curtain call with Hadley Fraser, Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess
Curtain call with Hadley Fraser, Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh
John Owen-Jones, Sarah Brightman, Colm Wilkinson and Peter Jöback
John Owen-Jones, Sarah Brightman, Colm Wilkinson and Peter Jöback
Ramin Karimloo, Sarah Brightman, Colm Wilkinson and Peter Jöback
Ramin Karimloo, Sarah Brightman, Colm Wilkinson and Peter Jöback
Colm Wilkinson and Peter Jöback
Colm Wilkinson and Peter Jöback
Ramin Karimloo, Colm Wilkinson and Peter Jöback
Ramin Karimloo, Colm Wilkinson and Peter Jöback
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Michael Crawford
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Michael Crawford
Michael Crawford and Ramin Karimloo shake hands
Michael Crawford and Ramin Karimloo shake hands
Crawford, Boggess, Karimloo, Warlow, Wilkinson, & Joback
Crawford, Boggess, Karimloo, Warlow, Wilkinson, & Jöback

Confetti finale

These are from the finale at the Royal Albert Hall, celebrating 25 years of The Phantom of the Opera.

The Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary

Wow, am I exhausted!  I got up at 7am this morning, and it’s been POTO25 ever since.  Here in San Francisco, the simulcast of The Phantom of the Opera Live from the Royal Albert Hall began at 11am.  We drove down early, ate breakfast nearby, and then got to the cinema for choice seats.  I’m sure nobody wants to hear what I had for breakfast, so I’ll cut right to the good stuff.  Our cinema had a 255 seat capacity (trust me, I looked) and there were probably about 60 of us in attendance.

Overall, the quality of the broadcast was excellent.  There were probably four cameras doing the coverage, and the only one I didn’t like was the one at stage level, literally along the footlights.  Every time they switched over to that camera, it made me a little seasick.  This was due to the angle and the lens distortion.  The set was gorgeous, with the orchestra above the main platform and sometimes covered by a scrim.  There were four panels at the back of the main stage that had different backdrops projected.  Now, I don’t know the proper terminology for this, but the little colored light circles making up these projections didn’t react very well to certain camera angles and movements.  It was very hard on the eye, and I hope it’s something they can fix digitally for the DVD release.  I imagine it was fine for the live audience at the Royal Albert Hall.  My favorite use of these panels was during Christine’s bows after her first big solo.  She turned her back to the actual audience, and the panels were used like mirrors to reflect the audience applauding.  Then the front stage became backstage at the opera house.

The big surprise and delight for me was Sierra Boggess.  I’ve never seen her perform before, and she was truly lovely.  The camera adores her, and she performed beautifully.  I can’t actually be objective about Ramin Karimloo (The Phantom) and Hadley Fraser (Raoul) because I’m such a big fan of both of them already.  Sadly, makeup for the stage isn’t subtle enough for filmed closeups, and Karimloo’s prosthetics, mask, and two microphones (forehead and cheek) were, well, not subtle.  In spite of this, Karimloo broke my heart at the end when he let Christine go.  Fraser cleaned up nicely as Raoul, and I thought he struck the right balance between gentle lover and arrogant aristocrat.  I thought everybody did a great job, and I enjoyed finding familiar faces in the ensemble from the Les Misérables 25th Anniversary Concert last year.

The finale was pretty spectacular, and these folks came out: Andrew Lloyd Webber, Cameron Mackintosh, the surviving creative team from the original production, the creative team for the RAH production,  the original London cast including Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman, and four other Phantom actors.  These were Colm Wilkinson, John Owen-Jones, Anthony Warlow and Peter Jöback.  Sarah Brightman sang with the four phantoms with Ramin Karimloo joining them at the end.  It’s a shame that the Phantom makeup takes too long to take off, because it would have been great to see Karimloo’s real face for the finale.  Andrew Lloyd Webber made a short speech, and he was pretty cute when he asked the audience to sit down in case he went on too long.  After the encores, during the final bows, sparklers went off around the Hall while confetti and streamers dropped from above.  I was sorry to see it end, but at least we’ll have the DVD release.  There was a slide advertising the DVD before the simulcast began, but it didn’t give a US release date, just “coming soon.”

One of the real pleasures of the day was chatting with other members of the audience.  One nice woman brought her young son who enjoys performing in musicals.  Who knows, one day we may be seeing him as the Phantom!  He was happy to pose for a photograph with the cinema poster.

The Next Phantom?

The Next Phantom? A young moviegoer in San Bruno

Click to see larger versions of these images that follow: Continue reading

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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