After much anticipation, the acclaimed new production of Boublil & Schönberg’s legendary Les Misérables, with its glorious new staging and youthful cast has premiered at Melbourne’s Her Majesty’s Theatre.
Based on the novel by Victor Hugo, and set against the backdrop of 19th-century revolutionary France, Les Misérables is the world’s longest running musical, been seen by over 65 million people worldwide in 42 countries and in 22 languages, including 2 Australian productions.
Melbourne’s first encounter with Les Misérables in 1989 and its infamous revolving barricade has been credited with revitalising the cities music theatre industry and the redevelopment of its heritage theatres. Now 25 years on, Cameron Mackintosh’s new production, seen in London and currently playing on Broadway, has opened in Melbourne to delight a new generation of theatre audiences and Les Mis fans alike.
From the moment you enter the theatre, you know you’re in for something special. From the proscenium environment through to the set pieces, and the integration of the projected imagery, Matt Kinley’s design is simply stunning. They have to be seen to believe. None more so, than the street scenes and the move to the underground sewers. Javert’s death is so visually arresting.
Add Christine Rowland’s additions to Andreane Neofitou’s original costumes, Paule Constable’s stunning lighting, combined with Laurence Connor and James Powell’s direction, it is classic story-telling at its best. Mick Potter’s sound design is clean and crisp, complimenting Geoffrey Castles’ musical direction and the well developed sound of the orchestra, and the luscious new orchestrations of Claude-Michel Schonberg’s magnificent score, offering new depth to Alain Boublil’s text and Herbert Kretzmer’s lyrics.
While this cast maybe youthful, they are well-balanced and deliver soundly beyond their years. Simon Gleeson in the iconic role of Jean Valjean gives a multi-layered performance and full of nuance. His rendition of Bring Him Home will clearly be one of the musical highlights of the year.
Hayden Tee gives a perfect demonstration of human complexity as Valjean’s lifelong antagonist Javert, Patrice Tipoki and Emily Langridge are delightful as Fantine and Cosette respectively, while Euan Doidge’s Marius comes into his own in act two in Empty Chairs at Empty Tables. Chris Durling delivers a fine portrayal of the rebellious student leader, Enjolras.
Lara Mulcahy and Trevor Ashley as the Thénardier’s are deliciously vile and an absolute joy to watch especially in the rousing Master of the House, only to up the ante in Beggars at the Feast. Making her professional debut in the role of Eponine, Kerrie Anne Greenland is a leading-lady in the making, with her poignant rendering of A Little Fall of Rain. A special mention must also be made to the ensemble, who are undeniably strong and feature some of Australia’s finest talent.
If there is only one show you see this year, then Les Misérables should be it. This production is nothing more than a triumph!
Her Majesty’s Theatre, Exhibition Street, Melbourne
Performance: Thursday 3 July 2014 – 7.00pm
Season continues to later in the year
For more information, visit: www.lesmis.com.au for details.
Image: One Day More by Matt Murphy
Review: Rohan Shearn