Theatre Review: LES MISERABLES – The Lowry, Salford

The cast of in LES MISERABLES UK Tour 2022.

The cast of in LES MISERABLES UK Tour 2022. Photo: Danny Kaan

Reworked for a modern audience, LES MISERABLES is one of the most memorable interpretations yet, thanks to its spectacular set-pieces, stunning special effects, and superb cast performance.

5 out of 5 stars

Cameron Mackintosh’s acclaimed production of LES MISÉRABLES heads to Salford’s The Lowry this month for a four-week run as part of a new 2022 tour.

Based on the 1862 novel by Victor Hugo, LES MISÉRABLES is a gripping story of love, loyalty and loss set against the backdrop of the French revolution. It follows Jean Valjean, a former convict, who breaks parole and reinvents himself as a mayor and factory owner. Ruthlessly pursued by police inspector Javert, Valjean takes in an orphan girl, Cosette, and vows to raise her as his own. But as she grows into a young woman, she falls in love with Marius, a young student taking part in the revolution. This, along with Javert’s relentless pursuit, means peace will be a long time coming.

This latest reiteration of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg’s classic musical caused somewhat of an outroar when it was announced it was to be reworked for its latest UK tour. Yet James Powell’s new direction (based upon Laurence Connor’s 25th-anniversary staging) is one of the most memorable interpretations yet, keeping the musical fresh with its spectacular set-pieces and stunning special effects.

Will Callan (Marius) in LES MISERABLES UK Tour 2022

Will Callan (Marius) in LES MISERABLES UK Tour 2022. Photo: Danny Kaan

Matt Kinley’s masterful set design is a delight to watch. Inspired by paintings of Victor Hugo, it effortlessly slides and shifts into place, making good use of Finn Ross’ projections and Paule Constable’s superb lighting design to create a sense of claustrophobia and loneliness. The result is a production full of shadow and atmosphere and one that feels more grounded, truthful, and relatable. The barricade scenes are particularly impressive, but Javert’s suicide scene genuinely takes your breath away.

As Jean Valjean, Dean Chisnall steals the show with his captivating performance. His rendition of BRING HIM HOME is the highlight of the night, and his intensity with Nic Greenshields as Javert demonstrates the complicated relationship between the characters.

Greenshields brings wonderful depth to Javert, the villain of the piece, providing many emotional moments in the show, particularly during STARS and SOLILOQUY.

Elsewhere, Katie Hall delivers a spellbinding performance as Fantine, her angelic voice making I DREAMED A DREAM sound even more heart-breaking. Page Blankson is equally a delight as Cosette, shining during her numbers with Will Callan as lovestruck Marius.

Ian Huges and Helen Walsh in LES MISERABLES UK Tour 2022.

Ian Huges and Helen Walsh in LES MISERABLES UK Tour 2022. Photo: Danny Kaan

Ian Hughes and Helen Walsh also deserve a mention for their hilarious performance as the Thénardiers, bringing some well-needed comic relief to this otherwise emotional musical.

But the real star of the show is the music, conducted by Musical Director Ben Ferguson. From the heart-breaking I DREAMED A DREAM, ON MY OWN and BRING HIM HOME to the powerful and inspiring DO YOU HEAR THE PEOPLE SING? and ONE DAY MORE, the magnificent score is delivered with raw emotion and outstanding vocals.

Those familiar with the story will know that LES MISÉRABLES is renowned for being a heavy watch. As the tale of suffering unfolds, it’s impossible not to feel the pull of this juggernaut musical. Yet, it also feels more poignant than ever before. As themes of courage, heartbreak and the resilience of the human spirit breakthrough, LES MISÉRABLES feels just as emotive, charged and affecting it did almost forty years on from its debut performance.

With its spectacular set-pieces and showstopping tunes, this restaging of LES MISÉRABLES will take your breath away. Storm the barricades for a ticket!

LES MISERABLES runs at The Lowry, Salford, until 23 April 2022