MusicalNorth WestReview

Les Misérables – Liverpool Empire

Lyrics: Alain Boublil & Jean-Marc Natel

 Additional Lyrics: Herbert Kretzmer

Music: Claude-Michel Schönberg

Director: Lawrence Connor and James Powell

Reviewer: Jane Fleming

Almost a decade has gone by since Les Misérables last embarked on a sell-out UK tour. Whilst remaining a favourite in the heart of London’s West End and following a successful Hollywood movie adaptation, the critically acclaimed musical is once again taking the country by storm.

Les Misérables is an iconic story of an ill-fated band of intertwined lives, in a city torn apart by revolution. The story conveys to the viewer; the raw, gritty, and often melancholic perspective of nineteenth-century France.

Matt Kinleys’ set, although different from the original London run and its revolving stage, still feels seamless, almost as if it has a life of its own.  Offering fluid and flawless transitions between the various locations and scenes, the audience is drawn in with its breath-taking illustrations, inspired by Victor Hugo’s artistry. The scenery coupled with 59 projections’ clever, yet harrowing depictions of the sewers underneath the streets of Paris, with imagery portraying a squalid and almost endless maze of tunnels.  This use of visual theatre is incredibly powerful during Javert’s Soliloquy.

The prologue introduces the audience to protagonist Jean Valjean (Killian Donnelly), a member of the chain gang who is receiving his parole. Due to his history of being a prisoner, he is condemned to now live his life as an outcast, before the story offers him a chance of redemption.

Donnelly’s portrayal of Jean Valjean depicts him as an incredibly strong, compassionate and humble lead, a brilliant contrast to the towering and intimidating Javert, performed magnificently by Nic Greenshields.  Another stunning performance comes from Katie Hall, whose rendition of Fantine is nothing short of perfect. Hall’s execution of Fantine’s tragic fall from grace demonstrates her extraordinary vocals, while offering an eloquent and heart-breaking interpretation.

Comic relief comes in the form of Sophie-Louise Dann and Martin Bell whose delivery of Madame Thénardier and her dodgy land-lord husband bring some much-needed laughter to an otherwise sombre show.

Standout performances come from the ensemble. There are no weak links, each voice is pitch-perfect offering impressive harmonies which are simply captivating. Not only that but the cast play a variety of roles, each as individual as the principal characters, however, no less important to development of the story.

With its sung-through score and impeccable cast, set amongst a backdrop of the French Revolution and the degradation of society, Les Misérables is a masterpiece which is well-deserving of its immediate standing ovation from the audience.

Runs until 26 October 2019  | Image: Contributed



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  1. The cast of Les Miserables and their performance last night 22.10.19, was amazing. Thoroughly enjoyed the show. Standing ovation from all theatre-goers. Fantastic.

  2. Travelled to liverpool from Nottingham. It was worth every mile. Fantastic! We ve seen this show in london a few times and i honestly think that this performance ranks up amongst the best of them. Great performance from the entire company.

  3. What a fantastic, brilliant, wonderful show! at the Empire Theatre Liverpool last night 24.10.2019. Went along with my daughter, and granddaughter we thoroughly enjoyed the performance. What incredible voices from all the cast especially the main characters such powerful voices, we loved it The whole company certainly deserved the standing ovations they got…loved, loved the whole show and hope it makes a return to Liverpool next year fingers crossed 👍

  4. There aren’t enough superlatives to describe last night’s show at the Empire.Travelled from North Staffs with my family,(my first visit to the the Empire in 50 years!).Last saw Les Mis 30 years ago.My goodness,the quality of every aspect of the performance last night was just OUTSTANDING.Enjoyed every minute of the show,despite coming home feeling emotionally drained.

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