Quite how I got to my grand age as a musical and literature lover without seeing Les Miserables on stage is beyond me.
I was around nine when I first illicitly attempted to read my mother’s copy of Victor’s Hugo’s tome, slinging it aside in favour of re-reading The Secret Seven and re-watching Annie on a loop. It was a few years before I returned.
When I eventually did I was entranced by the shocking story of poverty, revolution and repentance, even if did take a few times to tune into the language and understand its significance in history.
Vive le France.
When the musical arrived I learned the songs as if by osmosis. TV, You Tube, and then the film – it was hard to avoid particularly when Lancashire lad Alfie Boe starred as Jean Valjean.
But it was only it’s arrival in Manchester that finally saw me fully appreciate why this magnificent production still dominates hearts, minds and playlists no matter how familiar you are with its themes and music.
Tickets to the Palace have sold like hot cakes and its not surprising.
This production touches the cockles of even the coldest hearts with its soaring score and savage highs and lows, taking in the familiar but nonetheless shocking scenes of life, death, greed, cruelty and prostitution as Jean Valjean tried to make right the wrongs of his unfortunate past, hunted by the complicated, jobsworth Javert.
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The uber-talented cast are astonishing in their range of skills, from the tiniest actors to the longest in the tooth.
Killian Donnelly IS Valjean and from the first scene he enraptures and dominates one of the difficult singing roles on the stage, which is brought to live by a mighty pieces of scenery and stagecraft, particularly in the barricades scenes and as he runs through the sewers.
It’s hard to pull out specific performances in this masterclass in musical theatre but Martin Ball as Thernadier and Sophie Louise Dann as Madame Thernadier absolutely slay the mix between comedic, lewd and cruel with a physical finesse that sees the audience moving from tears of pathos to crying with laughter.
They simply have the best lines amid the emotional rollercoaster of production which hits all those musical high notes you expected and more. You will cry. No matter how well you know the storyline.
It the Mis that makes it the reason more than 120 million people worldwide in 45 countries and 22 language – don’t be the one to miss out.
You can see if there are any tickets left HERE
But never fear, Les Miserables returns to Greater Manchester in May next year when it plays the Lowry. Tickets go on sale on Friday 1 March.