Theatre Review: LES MISERABLES – Palace Theatre, Manchester

The cast of LES MISERABLES with 'The Barricade'

The cast of LES MISERABLES with ‘The Barricade’. Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy 

From the innovative new staging to its magnificent cast, every inch of this touring production of LES MISÉRABLES will take your breath away

5 out of 5 stars

It’s been almost a decade since Cameron Mackintosh’s acclaimed production of LES MISÉRABLES last toured the UK but if the press night at Manchester’s Palace Theatre is anything to go by, it was well worth the wait.

Boubil and Schonberg’s musical tale of redemption and rebellion in 19th Century France took the world by storm when it first premiered in Paris in 1980. Since then, the musical has been seen by over 120 million people worldwide, playing in 45 countries and in 22 languages to make LES MISÉRABLES undisputedly one of the world’s most popular musicals.

No expense has been spared in this new touring production which has been refreshed with new staging original conceived in 2009 to celebrate the 25th anniversary. Matt Kinley’s innovative set design, which is inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo, is a startling change from the original London version but is equally breathtaking.

Harry Apps 'Marius', Tegan Bannister 'Eponine' & Bronwen Hanson 'Cosette' in LES MISERABLES.

Harry Apps ‘Marius’, Tegan Bannister ‘Eponine’ & Bronwen Hanson ‘Cosette’ in LES MISERABLES. Photo: Matthew Murphy

Transforming from cavernous underground tunnels to three-storey houses in town streets, Kinley make uses of cinematic projections keep the action fluid, which together with Paule Constable’s atmospheric lighting design, allow Directors Laurence Connor and James Powell to strip back a number of key scenes to allow the audience to really focus in on the characters.

As expected, all of the cast are excellent here with heartbreaking performances from Bronwen Hanson as Cosette, Tegan Bannister as Eponine and Katie Hall as Fantine, all of whom deliver spine tingling vocal performances that will leave you breathless. Nic Greenshields also delivers a flawless performance as Javert, his physical presence and powerful vocal performance perfect for such a dominant and domineering role.

The cast of LES MISERABLES with 'One Day More'

The cast of LES MISERABLES with ‘One Day More’. Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy

But it is Killian Donnelly who truly carries the show as Jean Valjean, the young man sentenced to 19 years’ hard labour for stealing a loaf to feed his starving family. Donnelly’s voice is simply exquisite as he moves from powerful rousing numbers such as WHO AM I? to soft and caressing ballads like BRING HIM HOME with ease. He is a joy to watch and owns the stage from start to finish.

Add in some tweaked orchestration to the show’s magnificent score which features the epic I DREAMED A DREAM, ON MY OWN, BRING HIM HOME, ONE DAY MORE, MASTER OF THE HOUSE and EMPTY CHAIRS AND EMPTY TABLES and you can’t help but be blown away by LES MISÉRABLES.

If you’ve not booked yet, storm the barricades for a ticket!

LES MISÉRABLES runs at the Palace Theatre, Manchester until 30 March 2019