Newest Review: ... round and round all evening. I did enjoy it and was glad I saw it, but think I was expecting more. Les Miserables is currently on at t... more
Do you hear the people sing?
Member Name: Littlegreenlady
Advantages: Brilliant, best musical ever
Disadvantages: Take plenty of tissues
Do you hear the people sing?
Musicals tend to fall into two categories - the profoundly intense with strong orchestral and vocal arrangements and the blithely cheesey and happy - still with good music but in a different league. Les Miserables would have to top the first of the two categories but would be so far away at the top it's practically in a league of its own.
I have been lucky enough to see this musical twice and on both times I have sobbed like a baby. The powerful music, the strong characters and the tense situation at the barricades results in an emotional rollercoaster. Every time I hear the strains of "Do you hear the people sing", I want to stand up and wave a French flag and march on down to the streets.
The story of Les Mis (for short) is based on the popular Victor Hugo novel of the same name. The musical is pretty true to the novel, leaving out only the incredibly long descriptions in the book.
The musical starts in the prison where prisoner 24601, aka Jean Valjean is serving 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread. It is in the prison that he first meets Javert. He is released on parole, where he finds no one wants to hire an ex-con. Offered shelter for the night at a Priest's, he runs away, stealing their silver. Caught by the police, he is brought back to the priest, who lies to the police and tells them he gave them as a present. He gives Jean some extra silver but warns him to take this chance and do good with his life. Jean follows the priest's advice and ends up owning a mill and becoming mayor. He tries to live his live as a good citizen but his loyalty is tested when Javert informs him that the notorious 24601 has been caught.
The story weaves around Valjean and his adopted daughter Cosette, Marius, who is in love with Cossette and Javert who has made it his mission to track down Valjean and bring him to justice. Meanwhile the students are spilling out onto the streets in protest at the government.
The music of Les Mis is extremely clever. The whole musical is performed in song and relies on several different melodies each repeated. Every one of the songs is a brilliant performance, from Fantine's painful lament "I dreamed a dream", to the student's revolutionary songs and Eponine's song of unrequited love "On my Own". As well as solo and duets, there are several group performances, "At the end of the day" and my personal favourite "One day more".
The London performance relies on simple and bare stage scenery which at the same time is highly effective. The recent tour has a more elaborate background and set but it works just as well.
There is good reason for this musical being the longest running. It truly is worth watching and will have you spell bound from beginning to end. Make sure you take lots of tissues!
Summary: Fantastic musical, well worth seeing.