Les Misérables is a story that is over 150 years old, but it is still entertaining people across the world in almost every conceivable format. The musical, just under 40 years old, is one of those formats that has been highly regarded in many venues, and it is currently being performed at the Queen’s Theatre in London’s West End. Although we’ve seen many variations of Les Misérables, this is one of the best live production of the classic that has ever been put together.
Team directors John Caird and Trevor Nunn have put together a brilliant masterpiece that should be seen by any fan of Les Misérables, whether they prefer the book, film, or musical adaptation. We just can’t say enough about how thrilling of a ride they put the audience on throughout the course of the entire play. This is no surprise, as John Caird has been a much-respected director for decades, and Trevor Nunn has shared in many of his successes. When watching this rendition of the popular story, you may wonder if there is a better pair of directors out there, and if they’d ever been able to work as a team as well as Caird and Nunn.
The cast is one of the best we’ve seen, with Dean Chisnall and Bradley Jaden putting in masterful performances as the lead roles of Valjean and Javert. The two play off of each other in a perfectly natural way, with charm, wit, and passion pouring out in abundance. Chisnall’s previous credits include Working, Shrek the Musical, and Love Never Dies, so he has extensive acting chops, especially in London’s West End. Jaden also performed in Shrek the Musical and has been in previous renditions of Les Misérables, so he certainly knows his way around this production.
Ample credit must be given to Toby Miles as Marius and Amara Okerke as Cosette. The two play naïve but dramatic lovers in such a way that the audience can’t just write them off, as has been the case in many other performances of Les Misérables. They are young, passionate, and full of life, bringing a breath of fresh air to a pair of characters that aren’t always a fan favorite. Also, a significant mention for Carley Stenson for her exquisite portrayal of Fantine.
Les Misérables would not be what it is without the fantastic, well-written musical score. Thanks to the musical direction of Steve Moss, this production hits every note and draws the audience in even deeper with all of its musical performances. The singing and dancing are second-to-none, and each cast member does their part in making this musical one of the best that you can attend in London’s West End. The classic songs are all there, but they have just enough of a twist to keep the audience engaged, even those members who have seen the play hundreds of times. However, they don’t overdo it with updates, staying true to the original and keeping track enough so that fans can sing along to their favorite tunes.
As well as the cast, we must heap praise upon the orchestra, who do a splendid job of keeping up with the show and setting the mood of every scene with their instruments. Without them, Les Misérables would not be the musical that it is known as. It’s no easy task to take on this production, but the orchestra and sound engineers work together to create a true work of art that just keeps giving and giving.
The extravagance of the scenery and design of Les Misérables is one of its defining features, and the Queen’s Theatre production does not let us down in this regard. John Napier puts together a realistic but luxurious set that sets the tone for the play from the beginning. Minor changes take place throughout, but they benefit from smooth transitions and beautiful scenery that catches the imaginations of every audience member and provides a beautiful backdrop for all of the actors who take part in this production.
The costume design is on point as well, thanks to Andreane Neofitou, who has a long list of accomplishments between Broadway and the West End, including multiple stints on Les Misérables in the past. This may be her best rendition yet, as the costumes blew us away far more than any other version that we’ve ever seen. There is a perfect blend of classic romanticism and contemporary makeup that really makes the characters pop out in a way that nobody would expect when they first sit down.
Les Misérables is a timeless classic that has been entertaining crowds for decades, but the current production at the Queen’s Theatre may just be our favorite performance – and we’ve seen many. The cast and crew work together beautifully and the music, choreography, and staging are all superb throughout every aspect of the show. For long-time fans of the story or those who are entirely in the dark about it, this is a performance that is designed to impress and succeeds in every facet.