It’s a massive, masterpiece of a musical that’s been wowing the West End of London for 34 years and now the spectacular restaged Cameron Mackintosh version has returned to the Wales Millennium Centre where it debuted in 2009.
Taking us through Victor Hugo’s novel in one of the most turbulent times in French history when 19th century workers were oppressed and exploited, we move through the decades following our hero Jean Valjean played by Dean Chisnall, who has us in the palm of his hand from the start. From his beginnings as an ex convict in the chain gang, to his determination to change his life for the better and show compassion for those around him, to his progression to old age, his stunning renditions of Who Am I and Bring Him Home are exquisite and he brings the house down with cheers .
Down and out of luck Fantine is hauntingly played by Katie Hall, and her beautiful vocals in I Dreamed A Dream will have you holding back tears early on. Be prepared for plenty more emotion as the play rolls on! Not least when Frances Mayli McCann (Eponine) sings heartrendingly about unrequited love in On My Own at the start of Act 2.
Charlie Burn plays a perfect Cosette, sweet and gentle and with a melodic harmonic voice beautifully showcased in In My Life and A Heart Full Of Love with her handsome and equally harmonic love interest Marius (Felix Mosse) .
Nic Greenshields is a booming, operatic presence as the relentless Javert, hunting down Valjean, and special mention must go to Ian Hughes and Helen Walsh who play a brilliant, bolshie, raucous and richly comedic Monsieur and Mme Thenardier. Their chemistry as they bounce off one another’s antics is excellent and they bring a dastardly dose of humour to the proceedings. You will, of course, adore their masterful performance of Master of the House and much more.
Dramatic, looming sets and stunning, moving projections take you into the action of the stage in an all-enveloping experience. Atmospheric lighting, with flames and low candlelight, interspersed with beams and shafts of light through windows, and spotlights are all used for extra dramatic effect.
When the ensemble sing together, whether as ladies of the night or a gang of freedom fighters, it’s rousing, beautiful and will give you shivers of appreciation. Songs such as One Day More will stay with you for ever! What a quality night of talent-full entertainment.
Les Miserables is on at the Wales Millennium Centre until 4th Jan. For more information visit www.wmc.org.uk