FeaturedMusicalNorth WestReview

Les Miserables – Liverpool Empire

Reviewer: John McRoberts

eviewer: John McRoberts

Music/Book: Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schonberg

Lyrics: Herbert Kretzmer & Alain Boublil

Director: James Powell & Laurence Connor

Returning to Liverpool for the first time in over two years, Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg’s classic musical based on Victor Hugo’s epic novel of the same name continues to pull in the crowds, the emotional connections, and the instantaneous standing ovations and its clear upon watching exactly why this is still the case over 35 years since its debut.

James Powell’s new direction based upon Laurence Connor’s 25th-anniversary staging continues to keep the musical fresh with plenty of new action and enticing moments to keep even the avid fan noticing something new within its staging. While many of the musical’s fans were outraged at the loss of the original staging, one can’t help but feel that this is the modernisation and restaging the production needed to keep it alive. The set design by Matt Kinley alongside Paule Constable’s stunning lighting design gives the production a filmic edge, full of shadow and atmosphere. Andreane Neofitou and Christine Rowland’s costume designs bring flashes of colour to proceedings which the original production really lacked.

In the role of released convict Jean Valjean, Dean Chisnall brings a career-defining performance, one full of maturity and power, here he manages to convey the rollercoaster journey of the production’s main male protagonist with angst and compassion alongside stunning vocal gymnastics, this plays beautifully alongside Nic Greenshields’ Javert – his rendition of Stars gaining one of the night’s biggest round of applause. His gigantic frame, dwarfing those around him, helps the character’s dominance feel more grounded and real, which makes his downfall courtesy of Teddy Probet’s cheeky Gavroche, which is full of charm and charisma even more gripping.

Katie Hall makes a return to the musical, going full circle, here playing the down-beaten Fantine, the mother of Cossette (a role she originally played in the 25th Anniversary Production), despite the character only briefly appearing her rendition of I Dreamed A Dream providing plenty of emotion. The Young Cossette is beautifully played and sung on press night by Skye Kashikula, while Rebecca Ferrin provides a delightfully fresh interpretation of the older Cossette.  Jenna Innes also steps in on press night to cover the role of Eponine providing the character with a little more emotional depth than this reviewer has seen in recent casts.

Making a strong professional debut, Liverpool’s own Will Callan is a headstrong Marius and provides strong vocals that match his equally strong on-stage presence. Comic relief is provided in buckets courtesy of Ian Hughes and Helen Walsh as the Theanardier’s, they throw themselves around the stage with carefree abandon, which beautifully juxtaposes against the other character’s struggles.

It must be credited that, this production especially compared to other productions that take place at the Empire, a perfect sound balance – a rarity at the Liverpool Empire for sure. Not only can you hear each vocal track perfectly, but you can also hear every bar played of this sensational score by every instrument within the 14 piece orchestra.

Les Miserables continues to impress despite multiple viewings, and as long as the production continues to find performers who are at the top of their game and the creatives continue to find ways to keep the production feeling fresh – then one can only see Les Miserables running for many, many more years!

Runs until 22 January 2022 – then continues its UK Tour.

The Reviews Hub Score


The Reviews Hub - North West

The North West team is under the editorship of John Roberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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One Comment

  1. The most outstandingly wonderful version of Les Mis, in many a year. This was the 7th time I’ve seen it live; London, Broadway and several provincial theatres, and this performance was superb. Lighting, stage craft and singing, all exceeding my expectations, and I was lucky enough to see the “Dream Cast’ performance many years ago (Colm Wilkinson, Philip Quast, Lea Salonga and Michael Ball). This – truly – bears close scrutiny.
    Javert was exquisite; as was Valjean. Many, many tears of sheer joy were produced through the simple genius of this performance. It matters not a jot whether or not you’ve seen it live before; just go and be spellbound.
    An outstandingly magnificent performance.

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