I was recently in London England, pretty much home to Europe’s version of Broadway where they have everything playing from Avenue Q to Wicked in their dedicated theatres to touring casts like the newer show Dreamboats and Petticoats (which isn’t really in the west end, but then again it isn’t a dedicated theatre show).
One of things I love most about going to see Broadway styled shows in London England is that just like in New York City, you can go to the half price broadway tickets stand inside the Leicster (spelled wrong) Station in the Metro or just above it in Soho (The West End) and pick up a ticket last minute for just about any show and only have to pay around half price.
I went there to get a ticket for Les Mis in London, like I said you cannot go wrong with a classic show and since it is now the longest running show in London’s broadway history I had to go see it in London and with the new London cast. When I got there it was disappointing to find out that the show was sold out and even if she did have a ticket it wouldn’t have been able to be sold for half price. The girl at the counter did offer to call the Queen’s Theatre in London to double check and instead of being polite and saying no that’s ok I said that would be great.
She happily called the theatre and as she was talking to them someone canceled their seat in the front section and she
quickly had them put it on hold, offered it to me about 10 pounds above theatre price and since you really cannot get a better seat or ticket for Les Miserable in London, I couldn’t refuse, even with the markup. I got my ticket and was even more surprised to learn that you could pay in either US dollars or in British Pounds. It was awesome!
So I got my ticket to Les Mis and went on to go do to the touristy thing for the day.
So Les Miserables Reviewed. Is Les Mis a good show or should you spend a ton of money to see a show that has been running and around for 20 years?
Some people think that just because a show is old it may not be good. It probably won’t have the special effects like Wicked or Hairspray, it won’t have the modern music like Rent or Spring Awakening or modern themes like Avenue Q but in reality, even though it may not have the modern special effects, when you combine beautiful ballads, amazing acting, great dance and a really well thought out story, not to mention a show that has lasted 20 years, you cannot go wrong.
Sure Les Mis doesn’t have flying witches, but it does have a love story, a talented cast, gorgeous overdone costumes, singing dancing, comedy and acting. It has everything that all of us can relate to and even though we cannot relate to the time period the characters live in, if you actually think about it times haven’t changed that much, just the way we look at them and the new technology we have to help cope with them.
Les Miserables is the story of the French Revolution. How people could start to rise up and overpower the government or monarchy if they truely believe in their cause. Sure virtually the entire cast dies but if you read history, the French Revolution had to start somewhere and the brave characters and cast of Les Miserables helped to start that revolution and fight the French Monarchy.
The show starts with men who are imprisoned for doing things like stealing a loaf of bread to save their sisters baby’s life. One of these men (who stole the loaf of bread) is Jean Valjean.
Jean Valjean is a good man at heart. He was trying to save his Nephews life but instead got caught stealing to feed him and imprisoned for 16 years. When his parol finally came up, we was released but also still had to report to his thickheaded parol officer regularly or he would have to go back to prison and work in the fields again.
Jean Valjean tried to go forward and make something of himself but whenever he would get a job, people would pay him half the money because he was a con, they would refuse to hire him or they would throw him out on the street and not even let him rent a room. Not only was Jean Valjean at his lowest point, but he was also on the verge of death until a Bishop took him in. Unfortunately while the Bishop went to bed, Jean Valjean robbed his silver and everything he could find. He then ran out of the house to go into hiding and started to realize, what had he done?
Of course he ended up getting caught and when he was about to be sent back to prison for stealing from the Bishop, the
Bishop lied and said he gave all the silver to Jean Valjean (even though the Bishop was poor and had very little). He also said that Jean had forgotten the candlesticks that he was given as well and handed them to him. Even though Jean Valjean felt guilty about stealing the Bishop’s silver, he took the Candlesticks and when he was about to leave the Bishop told him to use them to start a new life and a good life and with that Jean Valjean left.
You then get to start to move into the slum of France just before the revolution. There are prostitutes everywhere, women in factories and everyone stuggling. A young woman named Fantine.
Fantine is a young woman struggling to not only keep herself alive, but everything she does and earns is all for one purpose, to save her daughter who is staying with the Inn Keeper and his wife, Cosette.
Fantine does eventually pass away in the show but if you know your French History or watch the History channel, ghosts to come back and appear, especially during hard times and times of war. Ghosts are a huge part of this show, whether it is about dreams and songs like Castle on a Cloud which you hear Cosette sing while she is a little girl or the ghosts of Marius’s Friend’s all singing after they die in the fight against the french revolution.
After Fantine passes away, Jean Valjean makes her last request his life’s work.
He goes to the Inn that Cosette is living in with the comedy relief characters and goes to not only rescue Cosette but also raise her as his own daughter.
The story continues on from there and goes through what life was like back in France and eventually ends in Paris where the French Revolution took place. There are side stories about surviving, falling in love, robbing your customers and even not to underestimate the power of people who go unseen because they are small, short or different.
The show has funny punchlines, amazing ballads and you will laugh and you may even cry during certain songs and parts. One of my favorite songs from Les Miserable “On My Own” is a great example.
The first half of Les Miserables is very emotional and until you hear this song in the second half of the show you don’t think you will be able to cry again.
The Actress who played Eponine was amazing. She not only had one of the strongest voices in the cast, but her acting was incredible. She did mess up and miss a couple notes in my favorite song from the show, but her overall performance was nothing short of incredible. She has a huge career built out for her if she learns how to control the rest of her voice and not overdo the last bit of the high notes.
The two kids who star in the show, (the one who plays Cosette as a little girl and the Boy who sings the Little People song) stole the show. The understudy who played Jean Valjean that night started out fairly weak but between these four actors there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. All four of them surprised and shocked me with their talents.
Marius and the rest of the cast were ok, nothing special nothing amazing, but these four were absolutely show stoppers. I even actually ran into a couple of them randomly after show on my way into Soho and what was even more suprising was that even though they just got off work and were worn out, they all had time to stop and chat for a bit.
They thanked me for coming out, were amazingly friendly and were happy to talk about the show and their careers. Here is a picture of the guy who played Jean Valjean the night I was at the show.
Overall you cannot go wrong with Les Miserables in London at the Queen’s Theatre in the West End. The show makes you laugh and cry, has great songs, fun characters and amazing costumes. Les Mis at the Queens Theatre in the West End of London gets 4 and a half stars from me. It is definitely worth watching and going back to see again.
If you have seen Les Miserables in London or if you have seen it or want to go see it, feel free to leave a comment and let us know how you like it, what you loved about it and when you are going to see it again.