Reviewed by Kim Bickerdike
Since 1985 Les Misérables has been touring and performing to packed out theatres across the world whilst amassing a legion of fans and due to popular demand, it has now returned to Liverpool. Showing at Liverpool Empire until Saturday 22nd January 2022, Les Misérables is the perfect show to kick off 2022. On arrival at the theatre, we were asked to produce proof of our Covid vaccination status. For anyone a little nervous about the current Covid situation, I felt reassured that everyone was checked at the door and on entry we were pleased to see everyone wearing a mask. We took to our seats and couldn’t wait for the show to begin.
The stage was set with a dark and eerie scene, the music thundered and the production burst into life. Set in 19th Century France, this production of Les Mis is a fast-paced adaptation of the classic story about the French Revolution and takes the audience on a journey through the life of prisoner 24601 from incarceration to redemption.
The story of Les Mis is told via music and this popular and timeless production is jam packed with much loved musical numbers including many outstanding solo performances such as ‘I Dreamed a Dream’, ‘Who Am I?’ ‘On My Own’ and ‘Bring Him Home’. Each performance was passionate and led to an enthusiastic round of applause and left many audience members wiping tears away from their eyes. The ensemble performances of ‘Master of The House’, ‘Do You Hear the People Sing’ and iconic ‘One Day More’ were equally powerful and brilliant, this show truly is a musical masterpiece.
Jean Valjean (played by Dean Chisnall) is the protagonist and was exceptional in this role. He sang every song with feeling and intensity and his depiction of the many twists and turns of Jean Valjean’s tumultuous life was faultless. His voice was soft yet powerful and like no other I have heard on a stage and was perfect throughout the entire production. His performance of ‘Bring Him Home’ left me with tears streaming down my face and I feel very lucky to have witnessed such a spectacular piece of theatre.
Other stand out performances were Javert (played by Nic Greenshields). Javerts suicide scene was performed beautifully, the music, lighting, and scenery delivered a very touching and powerful scene which left me with goose bumps. Fantine (played by Katie Hall), Cosette (played by Rebecca Ferrin) and Eponine (played by Jenna Innes) all performed their roles amazingly well and delivered exceptional and spine-tingling vocals. The youngest members of the cast who played the roles of Little Cosette (played by Skye Kashikula) and Gavroche (played by Teddy Probets) provided a heart-warming performance and gave the audience many funny and touching moments. The scene where Gavroche’s life was brutally taken from him left tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. It was an incredible spectacle from such a young actor and they both deserved the rapturous standing ovation they received.
Les Mis is renowned for being a heavy story but there was plenty of comedy littered throughout courtesy of Thenardier (played by Ian Hughes) and his wife Madame Thenardier (played by Helen Walsh). Both had the audience laughing out loud on more than one occasion, their comedic timing and chemistry was undeniable. These unsavoury characters navigate their way through life by exploiting anyone they meet; they are the villains you love to hate but the clever writing and light relief they offered was masterful and welcomed by the audience.
Throughout the entire performance there are many detailed, quick, and varied set changes which add a fantastic and breath-taking element to this show. Every detail and aspect have been thought through, from the beautiful bright starry sky to the intensity of the battle of The Revolution from behind the barricades. There are stunning projections along with lighting and sound effects which transport the audience throughout the epic musical sensation which is happening on the stage.
The foundation of this production is the orchestra conducted by Ben Ferguson. From the first note they were perfect and throughout the whole performance their musical artistry was phenomenal. The passion in the music was tangible and I could feel every note, it was such a unique and special experience, and was fantastic to be back in the theatre listening to this incredibly talented orchestra.
Les Mis has a run time of 2hours 50 minutes (including interval) and takes you on a journey of emotions. I laughed, cried, and was enthralled throughout, it is by far the best theatre production I have ever seen, and I would urge everyone to get tickets to see this show. I’m in awe of the talented cast and orchestra, an unforgettable performance, and an unforgettable night.
The performance finished with a full ensemble musical extravaganza and as soon as the last note was played, the audience jumped to their feet providing the most deserved and prolonged standing ovation I have ever witnessed. Every actor, musician and crew member have really managed to pull together a truly outstanding and memorable occasion.
Rating: 5 stars
If I could give Les Mis more than 5 stars, I happily would! Tickets are available from https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/les-miserables/liverpool-empire/calendar/2022-01-08 and start from £13. You do not want to miss out on this exceptional show.