Review Roundup: LES MISERABLES Re-Opens in London
Jon Robyns plays 'Jean Valjean', Bradley Jaden 'Javert', Gerard Carey 'Thénardier', Carrie Hope Fletcher 'Fantine', Shan Ako 'Eponine', Josefina Gabrielle 'Madame Thénardier', Ashley Gilmour 'Enjolras' and Lily Kerhoas 'Cosette'. Rachelle Ann Go returns to the role of 'Fantine' for 7 weeks in the Spring and will take over the role next Summer.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Marianka Swain, BroadwayWorld: Much of the conversation around the incoming of the revamped Les Misérables production to the West End has revolved around the revolve - or lack thereof. But this slicker touring version (first seen in 2009, for the 25th anniversary) is a beautiful fit for Cameron Mackintosh's marvellously refurbished Sondheim Theatre, and the show's indelible score and stirring human drama are, if anything, showcased more strongly than ever.
Patrick Marmion, Daily Mail: Even as the tumescent score moves towards middle age, it provokes the febrile atmosphere of a Britain's Got Talent final. Matt Kinley's set packs in more scenery than the French Alps. There's not just huge barricades, tumbledown tenements and gated chateaus, no: it's augmented by projections inspired by Victor Hugo's own Turner-esque paintings. Meanwhile, the long (and, let's be honest, tiresome) barricade battles in the second half get extra whizz and bang with 3D sound effects.
Clive Davis, The Times: Two old friends have had facelifts and the results are very flattering indeed. The former Queen's Theatre - renamed in honour of Stephen Sondheim - glistens after Cameron Mackintosh's £13.8 million renovation. Partly destroyed by a German bomb in 1940, the interior has regained much of its Edwardian splendour. It looks glorious, the auditorium seeming more spacious yet more intimate. And - punters take note - there are 32 more toilets.
Miriam Gillinson, Guardian: There's a stellar new cast in place, although this is effectively the same touring show that directors Laurence Connor and James Powell created in 2009 to mark the musical's 25th anniversary. This new version is less showy than the original; no longer a spectacle to lean back and admire but, instead, something more truthful and, ultimately, more moving. The battles, the poverty, the degradation and the danger: all feel more relevant and real.
Dominic Cavendish, Telegraph: Ardent Sondheim fans might further object that Les Miserables is too dissimilar from - and ranks below - the American's groundbreaking oeuvre in artistic terms. Old-fashioned though it may seem in contrast, in its density and epic ambition, its mixture of high-powered ideas and gut-wrenching emotions, it's a show that feels lastingly revolutionary. I left once again convinced it represents what theatre should be - only this time presented in everything a theatre should be too.
Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut London: So what of the quality of the show? It famously 'defied the critics' who reviewed it when it opened in 1985, to become the longest-running West End musical in history. Whereas some long-runners are undeniably pretty bad ('The Mousetrap' is terrible, 'Mamma Mia!' is only tolerable if you're drunk - these are facts), 'Les Mis' has a towering passion and operatic intensity - not to mention absolutely belting tunes, in gorgeous multilayered vocal arrangements - that operate on a visceral, gut level. It whumps you in the solar plexus, especially when sold by the sort of world-class singers that Mackintosh rightly insists on keeping it stocked with. I think, maybe, where the original critics tried to dissect and analyse this sprawling epic, the original audiences just let it overwhelm them.
Thea Jacobs, The Sun: Musical numbers Master of the House and Lovely Ladies are simply stunning pieces of theatre, with clever staging and amazing costumes. Mackintosh proves once again why he is the king of theatre. If you've not seen Les Misérables don't wait any longer. It's a must see and I'm not surprised it's still delighting audiences.
Aleks Sierz, Arts Desk: At the end of the day, you can either hate the bombast of the music or thrill to its open-souled and self-sacrificing idealism. It barely needs to be said that the picture that this musical paints of the poor echoes sights you can see in the streets every day, and so there is little point in denying its political punch. It's one of those shows where you can feel just how much people want to pay tribute to its sense of social justice. At the same time, Hugo's Roman Catholicism soaks the whole enterprise with a constant dew of guilt and redemption, and the finale - when the dead walk again with the living - is almost, if not quite, spoilt by the line about love being the only way to see the face of God. But never mind. As that other French anthem has it, march on, march on...
Tim Bano, The Stage: Directors Laurence Connor and James Powell lean a bit too much towards a tense, strained atmosphere, where everyone has angry faces - angry Valjean, angry Enjolras, really angry Javert. They've added a lot more violence, too, again part of that edgy aesthetic they're going for, which frankly adds nothing. But mostly, they just make it feel alive. There are so many little human moments that would have been swallowed up in the previous version, and they've also tried to get under the skin of these characters a bit more. They feel more real, and less like archetypes.
Mark Shenton, London Theatre: As both a producer and theatre owner, Cameron Mackintosh has always been about attention to detail; the reopening of this theatre and show gives him an opportunity to prove his meticulous care in both. But I also love fresh new details, whether it be the reintroduction of rear dress circle boxes that are newly named in honour of Maggie Smith and Judi Dench, or new cast members like West End regular Josefina Gabrielle, who - cast entirely against her usual sophisticated type as Madame Thenardier - is virtually unrecognisable and truly hilarious. The show remains a thrilling triumph. Here's to the next 35 years, as it looks set to become The Mousetrap of musical theatre; but unlike that murder mystery, there's hardly any mystery to why it's such an enduring success.