I my opinion one of the best productions of Les Miserables I have ever seen. I've seen Les Mis countless times, both here and abroad. Somehow this semmemed more intimate- I know, possibly a contradiction in terms, but it's been nearly a week and I'm still thinking about it. John Owen James a Valjean blew me away! Gone is the revolve and Cosette's traditional black costume and the sublties in the staging in such events as Turning and when they sang the love montage Cosette was actually on a balcony- aka Romeo and Juliet before coming down to meet Marius. I know its a small thing but this is the first production where one of the students openly sobbed at Gavroche's death. Truly a supurb production and I actually feel honored to have sen it. - Anthony
06 Oct 10
i am a huge Les Mis fan, and I can easily say that this was not only the best Les Mis I have ever seen, but the best show i've seen full stop. Also, Adam Linstead as Grantaire absolutely stole the show, and was fantastic. - Emily
03 Oct 10
Having just returned from the Barbican I fell I must write and say how dissapointed I was with this production. The staging and musical direction were excellent but a lot of the leading plays were very low parr.I was very dissapointed with the Threnediers and with Fantine. They had to sing two of the main numbers in the show and even in the stall I had difficulty hearing them. And I would like to say what a fantastic performance was given by Garath Gates, he toopped the lot.All I can say is 'Hey , Mr Producer' You are losing your touch. - Terry Dumbrell
28 Sep 10
This is the third time I have seen Les Mis. Strangely enough I have followed the 25 years of its production having seen it first 25 years ago and now last Saturday for my 60th Birthday. I was not disappointed neither were a packed matinee audience at the Barbican all of us gave it a standing ovation. Need I say more! - Graham Pearce
27 Sep 10
I just realised I meant to say I first time I saw Les Mis was in 1987 not 1997 in my earlier review. As I said earlier this is a fantastic production - Paul Wallis
24 Sep 10
Superb. No reservations other than a couple of casting quibbles. I too saw the original at the Barbican and hjave never been the same since! This new production though, with its 21st-century technology, is better still. The staging is exceptional, borrowing as it does some of the scene-change techniques first seen in the NT's My Fair Lady and in Mary Poppins - but using them more fluently than ever before. The new orchestrations are a far better solution to reducing the band size than merely synthing down John Cameron's originals; the projections are a marvel and John Owen Jones easily erases my memories of the great Colm Wilkinson. The narrative tightening has not been much commented on, but the little tweaks now allow the show to sweep forward with tremendous verve. Fabulous. - Job
24 Sep 10
The first time I saw this show at the Barbican, it ran for over four hours as a revolve broke down and we were sent out for an 'extra' interval, was that really 25 years ago (help!). Apart from the baricade scene and a weak Threnedier I think I actually prefer this production to the original. John Owen Jones and Earl Carpenter were spectacular and Gareth Gates who, to be honest, I was dreading surprisingly good. A great evening. - KJ
24 Sep 10
I've seen this show many times, but this cast and version is the best I have ever seen. The projections and orchestrations give this production a grittiness that is lacking from others. An astonishing piece of theatre. - Christian
24 Sep 10
I first saw Les Mis in 1997(I think). This is my 4th time seeing the show since then. I've always felt that I was missing something because I never quite got it on stage despite thinking (as I still do) that the score is the best of any musical in the last 40 years.
So I wasn't sure what to expect on my visit to the Barbican last night. Firstly it was great to be back at the Barbican, sadly a rarity for me in these non RSC days, and wonderful to see the place packed to the rafters.
I'm delighted to report that I loved this production which made complete sense and moved me as it had not done before.
This production has many strengths - the new staging works very well - in particular the visual effects, in part reflecting the drawings on Victor Hugo, projected onto the back of the stage are excellent - a 21st century twist that wasn't around in 1985 but worked brilliantly, especially the scenes in the sewers and for "Stars".
There were some fine performances too. John Owen Jones got stronger as the show went on as Jean Valjean. His "Bring Him Home" was totally mesmerising. Earl Carpenter as Javert gave for me highlight of the whole show with his rendition of "Stars" which brought the house down. Strong support too from Gareth Gates as Marius. Whilst his voice is not as powerful as some predecessors in the role, he none the less does sing well and I thought the youth and naivety he brought to the part made complete sense. Jon Robyns as Enjorlas gave a strong, powerful performance and Ashley Artus & Lynne Wilmot as M & Mme Thenardier were good fun.
Rosalind James as Eponine was a strong singer but as somone else has commented in their review, her desire to switch into pop diva form was unnecessary, especially during "On My Own". It isn't after all an X-Factor audition. There were a few negatives. Madalena Alberto as Fantine didn't convince. During "I Dreamed a Dream" I closed my eyes and imagined Patti Lupone on that same stage all those years ago. The barricade scenes didn't totally convince either, lacking power and intensity, but these are minor gripes. This is an excellent production, updated superbly and great to see back in its original home.
It's easy to see why this show has been around for 25 years and will I'm sure be around for many years to come.
- Paul Wallis
23 Sep 10
Twenty-five years ago we didn’t have blogs and Twitter, so it’s even more of a miracle that this critic-panned show survived. Those like me who were captivated and fell in love with it called our friends and re-booked to see it again and the rest is history. We had people power then too, but I certainly wasn’t expecting to be back at the Barbican where it began 25 years later watching a new touring production. It’s good to report then that it’s in fine shape and some aspects of the new production have improved upon the original, most notably the scene in the sewers of Paris and the death of Javert. I found the longish prologue a bit clunky, but from the moment the opening music of act one began, the tingling and tension of the muscles returned and by the interval we were cheering the wonderfully uplifting first act finale.
The new staging of directors Laurence Connor & James Powell, with set design by Matt Kinley, does work well – it seems much zippier without feeling rushed or without losing any narrative. I was very impressed by Earl Carpenter’s Javert, Gareth Gates (yes!) Maruis, Jon Robyns’ Enjolras the Thenadier’s of Ashley Artus and Lynne Wilmot. There was much to admire about the acting performance of Valjean’s understudy Christopher Jacobson, though his vocal’s were a bit hit-and-miss in the upper register. Rosalind James as Eponine let herself down by wandering into pop diva mode occasionally and I’m afraid I found Fantine Madalena Alberto’s voice highly unattractive; during I Dreamed A Dream, I even found myself wishing she would have mimed to Susan Boyle! I don’t know which kids were playing little Costette and Gavroche, but whoever they were they were terrific. The chorus sounded great and the new orchestrations are so much better than the synth-heavy budget version now at the Queens Theatre. I do wonder if Cameron Mackintosh been around at the beginning of the 20th century, whether Puccini would have had similar long runs with Madam Butterfly and La Boheme, for this is the musical territory this show occupies. When they write the history of 20th Century musical theatre, this will most certainly be in the top ten, in the top five of dramatic musicals and maybe even…..
- Gareth James
20 Sep 10
Saw This in Cardiff with the new set -amazing truely amazing. When this version hits the west end it will play for another 20 years - Jerry Davies
Whatsonstage.com - Discount London theatre tickets, theatre news and reviews, Theatre videos, Theatre discussion, National Theatre Listings. Covering London's West End, all of Theatreland and all UK theatre. The best
for London Theatre Ticket Discounts.