Newest Review: ... and also have never paid more than £40 - £50 per seat for any other theatre show but for Les Mis you might have to spend a bit mor... more
The Most Awe-Inspiring Musical You Will Ever See!
Member Name: GuruOnAMountain
Advantages: Wonderful music, excellent set. A truly immersive experience!
Disadvantages: The ticket price may put some people off, depending on the theatre.
Les Miserables, more commonly known as Les Mis, has now celebrated its 25th Anniversary and a well-deserved anniversary it is, too! I certainly hope that it runs for another successful 25 years as it is truly breath-taking!
The musical is based on the novel by Victor Hugo and also based on a previous French musical that proved to be unsuccessful.
I don't want to give too many spoilers here as part of the joy of the musical is going on the journey with the characters but it begins in a prison camp with a man by the name of Jean Valjean. He has served his time and is set free on parole and makes his way to the house of a Priest. While there he steals from the Priest and although he is caught in the act, the Priest intervenes to save him stating that he did not steal from him and by giving him more silver. The Priest tells him to make an honest man of himself with this money and the story begins. The story then traces the life of Jean Valjean as he rises to success but is pursued by a policeman who wants to take him back to prison. All of this takes place at the time of the French Revolution and we meet characters such as Cosette, a poor young girl who's mother fell pregnant with her out of wedlock and subsequently paid the landlord of an inn to care for here and Marius, a idealistic French student who participates in the battles of the Revolution.
My first experience of it was as a very young child. My dad decided to take the family to Les Mis as it was playing nearby in Edinburgh. I was only 7 years old at the time and my dad was a bit concerned that I would be restless, especially with such a daunting storyline for a small child to follow. However, I was transfixed for the whole performance and still remember it vividly despite the fact I was so young. My parents subsequently took me to other musicals as I grew older and none sticks in my mind as vividly as Les Mis. True, at 7 I didn't really understand the story but I think it is testament to the power of the music and performance that I still was so taken in by the musical at such a young age.
When I recently saw it advertised as coming back to Edinburgh, I jumped at the chance to see it again as an adult and bought tickets for myself and my father. In the intervening almost 20 years since I'd first seen the musical I'd became a keen, although perhaps not as talented as I'd like, amateur musician and had became extremely familiar with the music from Les Mis through playing it on the piano and sometimes having a wee sing-song when I felt in fine voice. I actually thought that this over-familiarity with the music might somewhat ruin the musical for me as I wouldn't be so swept along with the story because I'd be too busy trying to stifle my urge to burst into song.
However, I was very, very wrong. The minute I sat down in the theatre I was that same transfixed 7 year old that had sat in the same theatre 20 years earlier. The stage settings, the costumes, the music and the story swept me along just as it had the first time and I was so engaged that the thought of having a sing song didn't once enter my mind.
I've seen many, many musicals in my time and well, to say the least, they can be a bit twee. Les Mis is very different to most musicals, however. Don't expect cheesy music, brash sets, camp dancing and a feel, good atmosphere. It is quite a dark musical full of destitution, death, suffering and the harsh realities of war but it manages to touch parts of the soul that no movie, musical or theatre production will easily do again! There was one point in the musical where the whole theatre was sobbing....how many shows have you been to that the audience have been so engaged by the story that that has happened? I must say it was a first for me!
As I say, the musical is dark and the music has to match in parts. I think it would be best described as soulful and the music really captures the essence of the emotions being portrayed: the tenderness of love, the hopeful chants of victory over oppression, the searching a man has to do of his soul to find out who he truly is and what he truly wants. There is very little light relief in the musical (with the exception being the presence of the mischievous landlord) but you don't feel that you are missing out without it. The music is truly, truly beautiful particularly when you know the story that accompanies it and I can honestly say that virtually every number in the show lives up to what has gone previously. None of it is disappointing.
Cost clearly varies depending on what theatre you go to see it, what time of day and what seats you choose and I can only give a very broad ball-park figure but expect to pay around £25-100 ticket depending on where the performance is held. However, it is very much worth the money. I am currently a skint student who counts every penny and has to justify spending even £5 on lunch but I would give £50 for a ticket in a heartbeat to see this again a third time.
To sum up, even if you are not a 'musical' person, this is not your average musical. It is truly a fully immersive once in a lifetime experience. I really doubt anyone could be disappointed by this musical, so if you are ever in London, see if you can get a ticket and if it ever comes to a theatre near you, snap a ticket up!
Summary: An excellent musical set during the French Revolution
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