Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Thursday, 3 July 2014
Les Misérables, Review Opening Night, July 3, 2014 *****
from novel by Victor Hugo; Music & Book by Claude-Michel Shönberg; Book & original French
Lyrics by Alain Boublil & Jean-Marc Natel; English lyrics by Herbert
Kretzmer; Adapted for stage by Trevor Nunn & John Caird
A Cameron Mackintosh production; Australian producer Michael Cassel Her Majesty’s Theatre, from
July 3, 2014 Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars:*****
This review also published in Herald Sun News online on the night of July 3 and in print on Fri July 4, 2014. KH
excitement and anticipation are palpable amongst the glitterati at the opening
night of Sir Cameron Mackintosh’s new production of Les Misérables in
Melbourne, the undisputed music theatre capital of Australia.
Victor Hugo’s 19th century epic novel, Les Mis is the epitome of
tragedy and romance, balancing narrative threads that encompass deprivation and
abuse, unrequited love, false imprisonment, fiercely loyal friendship, self-sacrifice
and class struggle.
Connor and James Powell revitalise Les Mis with their assured direction and
inventive vision, introducing a new design concept and a consummate Australian
cast to rival those in the West End or Broadway.
show is a musical and theatrical triumph thanks to Claude-Michel Shönberg’s
soaring, orchestral music, a repertoire of unforgettable, passionate songs and
evocative lyrics performed by exceptional voices.
has an operatic grandeur, not only because it is sung through without spoken
dialogue, but because of its swelling choruses and heart wrenching solos.
those who do not know the tale, Les Misérables is set in early 19th
century France during the revolutionary upheaval of the Paris uprising. Jean
Valjean (Simon Gleeson), a French peasant who seeks redemption after years of imprisonment,
jumps parole and is pursued relentlessly by a police officer, Javert (Hayden
has a rich lower register thrilling top notes and his dynamic vocal range and impassioned
performance do justice to the challenging role of Valjean and to songs including
What Have I Done? Who Am I? and the poignant Bring Him Home.
Tipoki captures the despair and fragility of Fantine when she sings the moving
I Dreamed A Dream, and her duet with Gleeson (Fantine’s Death) is affecting.
Tee brings a tough, pious self-righteousness to the obsessive Javert, and his powerful
baritone gives depth to Javert’s solo, The Stars, and vulnerable self-doubt to
memorable moment is the stirring version of One Day More in which the voices of
the lead characters build a layered chorus of complex harmonies and melodies.
highlight is the inspiring and rousing rebel chorus of Do You Hear The People
Sing? as the students man the barricades and face death.
Anne Greenland is a feisty and tender Éponine singing On My Own, while Emily
Langridge’s pretty voice suits the sweetly childlike Cosette.
Doidge is youthful and idealistic as Marius, the loved one of both young women,
and he sings a touching rendition of Empty Chairs and Empty Tables after all
his student friends are killed in the uprising.
Ashley and Lara Mulcahy are hilariously grotesque as the cruel and greedy
innkeepers, Monsieur and Madame Thénardier, Chris Durling has presence as Enjolras,
the militant student leader.
orchestra is outstanding under conductor, Geoffrey Castles, Matt Kinley’s
revamped design depicts the grim, Parisian landscape in the gritty, sepia-toned
set and in projections inspired by Victor Hugo’s paintings.
Misérables comes with a formidable heritage but, with its deft direction and
gifted cast, this production is on the road to victory. Can you hear the people