Les Misérables

LM Photo_Michael Le Poer TrenchAfter much anticipation, the acclaimed new production of Boublil & Schönberg’s legendary Les Misérables, with glorious new staging and dazzlingly reimagined scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo, premieres this week at Melbourne’s Her Majesty’s Theatre.

Set against the backdrop of 19th-century revolutionary France, Les Misérables is the world’s longest running musical and has been seen by over 65 million people worldwide in 42 countries and in 22 languages. The new production has been praised by critics, fans and new audiences, breaking box office records internationally and inspiring filmmakers to make the outstandingly successful movie which went on to win 3 Oscar’s, 3 Golden Globes and 4 BAFTA’s.

Playing the iconic role of Jean Valjean is Simon Gleeson, and playing Valjean’s lifelong antagonist Javert is Hayden Tee. Fantine will be played by Patrice Tipoki, Kerrie Anne Greenland will play Eponine, Emily Langridge will play Cosette, Euan Doidge will play Marius, and Chris Durling will play play Enjolras. Playing Madame Thénardier is Lara Mulcahy, while Trevor Ashley plays Monsieur Thénardier.

Twenty-four of Australia’s finest talents join the Les Misérables ensemble, with the child roles of Little Cosette, Young Eponine, and Gavroche being shared by 12 talented children making their professional debut in this spectacular production.

Recently, Arts Review caught up with Patrice Tipoki and Trevor Ashley during rehearsals in Melbourne. Patrice is known to Australian audiences from her lead roles in The Lion King and Wicked, and has been preparing for the role of Fantine since she was a little girl. Hailing from a musical family, she first saw Les Misérables in Brisbane at the age of 6 and ever since would perform songs from the show for anyone who would listen.

“I have a moment everyday, where I hear the introduction of a song, and I pinch myself that I’m even a part of this production, let alone a huge role, like Fantine,” said Patrice.

“I’m loving it, I’m loving the process so far, not that I have played a role that’s so huge emotionally, she goes on such a journey, in such a short amount of time. I’m enjoying getting my teeth into it as an actor, and as a singer.”

“I love the new orchestrations. I think people will really appreciate that, they already know the music, but hearing that in a more beautiful way, and help them feel the story even more.”

Trevor Ashley is one of Australia’s favourite theatre and cabaret artists, having played in Priscilla Queen of The Desert – The Musical, The Producers, Hairspray and his own show’s Liza (On An E), Diamonds are for Trevor, Fat Swan and Little Orphan TrAshley. He now takes on the villainous role of Monsieur Thénardier.

“It’s a nice thing for me to be able to show a very different side of myself, most people have seen me do lots and lots of comedy, which part of this role is comedy,” says Trevor.

“I thought it was time to breakout and show everybody that I am an actor, and can actually do other sorts of role. I was very confident that I could create him as a character.”

Based on Victor Hugo’s classic novel, Les Misérables is an epic and uplifting story about the survival of the human spirit. The magnificent score includes the classic songs I Dreamed a Dream, On My Own, Stars, Bring Him Home, Do You Hear the People Sing?, One Day More, Empty Chairs at Empty Tables, and Master of the House.

Cameron Mackintosh’s production of Les Misérables is written by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg and based on the novel by Victor Hugo. With music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer and original French text by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel. Adapted by Trevor Nunn and John Caird, it has additional material by James Fenton.

The new Australian production is directed by Laurence Connor and James Powell and designed by Matt Kinley. Original costumes are by Andreane Neofitou, additional costumes by Christine Rowland, lighting design by Paule Constable and sound design by Mick Potter. Executive Producer of the Australian production is Michael Cassel.

To coincide with the production’s premiere in Melbourne, the State Library of Victoria will be hosting a world-first exhibition, Victor Hugo: Les Misérables from Page to Stage. The exhibition follows the evolution of Les Misérables from one of the world’s greatest literary masterpieces into the most successful and beloved stage musical of all time, and include original Les Misérables scripts, scores, costumes, set designs, posters, photographs and films – and is a must see for all Les Mis fans and runs from 18 July until 9 November 2014.

Les Misérables premieres this Thursday 3 July at Her Majesty’s Theatre. For more information and bookings: visit: www.lesmis.com.au for details.

Image: Les Misérables – photo_Michael Le Poer Trench