Rebecca (the mega babe from Official Theatre) invited me to join the #LDNTheatreBloggers to watch the musical, Les Miserables. Not being a massive “die hard” musicals fan, this would be my first time to experience the Les Mis journey. This confession may shock some of you, even Caity sitting next to me said “I’m excited for you” and Rebecca celebrated my Les Mis virginity with a high five, but the deadly musical cocktail of cheesy songs, melodramatic dance moves and unrealistic drama squashed expectations. Although I was excited to be with the lovely group of bloggers, I was prepared to witness the depressing misery of 19th Century France within The Queen’s Theatre, London.
Now I know I may sound snobbish, but when I realised we wouldn’t be sitting in the stalls, my newbie excitement shattered. I always craved the best seat in the house and I’m willing to pay big prices (even when I can’t afford them!) We marched the stairs to the Dress Circle, the “halfway to heaven” seats, and sat in Row H (check out Seat Plan). Getting ready to feel the beginnings of my inner little miss madam sulk, I organised my coat, bag and brain, avoiding my full analysis of the stage. The lights dimmed and the curtain rolled up, I was forced to engage and what a beautiful wide scope of theatrical beauty I had ignored. Some may say the view was angled slightly and character close-ups lacked, but these seats were musical geniuses. The concentration was on the vocals and set production, rather than the clichéd facial expressions (which frankly belong to EastEnders!). This was going to be
I’m sure you all know or read the Les Miserables synopsis thousands of times so I will try to not bore you. The harrowing story of the ex-convict Jean Valjean (known as “Prisoner 24601”) constantly seeks redemption through his promise to look after Fantine’s daughter, Cosette. I admired Jean Valjean’s determination, strength and love for Cosette entwined with his possession of guilt and anger towards the so-called justice system. Personally, the scenes involving Fantine’s desperation to provide for her secret daughter, including her dismissal, the sale of her locket and hair, and then prostitution, touched upon my familiarity of endless sacrifice and love a single parent can endure. Then, there’s the fantastic Thenardiers, who provided that much needed comedic relief, chasing the dramatic stench of death and gloom with dark humour. Forget “I Dreamed A Dream”, it was all about their “Master of the House”…
I must comment on my continuing love for the revolving stage- something which I thought only existed within the National Theatre’s Olivier (clearly I don’t get out enough!). The horrific stage turning of the dead rebels sprawled over the make-shift barricade was a particularly grisly image, which could be applied towards today’s society. The poor wanting their hardships to be heard, but are shot down by the attitudes of the upper class…ring any bells? The clever use of the lighting was also very symbolic, especially the famous white light when characters died on stage (which, funnily enough, I have experienced on my near death bed) and Jean Valjean carrying unconscious Marius through the darkened sewers, making the journey believable.
Les Miserables was an incredible welcoming introduction to the London Theatre Bloggers gang. I was honoured and grateful to be sitting in my seat and experiencing this awarding winning production. Whilst on the tube coming home, I was overwhelmed with a Les Mis medley, which caused my strange hummings to be silenced with a simple piece of chewing gum. I was glad to tick Les Miserables off from my theatre “To see” list, but for some weird reason I want to return. Is this the first bite of the musicals’ bug?