Since watching Les Miserables at Milton Keynes Theatre on Friday night I have been mulling over how best to capture the show’s essence in writing. When a production is good, I believe in being straight to the point, so in the interest of consistency I’m going to tell you the truth.
It isn’t good.
From the eery prisoner opening scene through to Valjean’s passing, I was utterly blown away. Killian Donnelly (Jean Valjean) tugged hard on my heart strings as he commanded the stage, and the tears finally fell when he sang “Bring Him Home” (seriously, take your tissues.) I believe my comment to my friend was “I’m so confused, I can’t tell if I want him to be my boyfriend or my Dad!”
I was particularly touched by the moments between Jean Valjean and The Bishop of Digne (Brian James Leys), which captured perfectly the juxtaposition between one man’s desperation and the unwavering eternal kindness of the other – certainly one of the most emotionally impacting scenes the show has to offer, despite its simplicity.
By stark contrast there were plenty of upbeat moments to enjoy, “Lovely Ladies” and “Master of the House” had me dancing in my seat and laughing out loud – rotten debauchery at its finest! Madame Thenardier’s voice (Sophie-Louise Dann) and mannerisms were hilarious, I could have watched the awful woman and her disease riddled husband all night.
I did, of course, have very high hopes for the vocals and music but I honestly don’t think I was prepared for the quality of Les Miserables on tour. Throughout the show I was continually caught off guard by the overwhelming range of talent. The lighting and sound was amazing – for me it was the attention to detail that made it so special (for example little touches like the shafts of light breaking through the barred windows) and transported me effortlessly to 19th century France (hi Sam by the way!)
If I were to sift through every moment of the show I would find very little to critique, which is almost unheard of for picky old me! The flawless cast were all stars in their own right – from the whores, to the students, to lovers Marius and Cosette. If you offered me a ticket to watch Les Miserables again tonight my answer would be a resounding “Oui Madame, Merci!”
Best Availability Monday to Thursday performances. Call the theatre’s dedicated Les Misérables booking line on 01908 547669 (open Monday to Saturday, 12 – 6pm) or visit: https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/les-miserables/milton-keynes-theatre/. Check daily for returns and last minute ticket releases.