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'Les Miz' proves a timeless musical, still with remarkable visual and aural splendor more than 30 years on.

Theatre Review (Singapore): ‘Les Misérables’

The long-running musical Les Misérables will be at the Esplanade Theatre from May 31st to July 24th 2016.les miz 2

This version is the updated 2010 production created to celebrate the show’s 25th anniversary and reinvigorated with new direction and set pieces. But the story remains the same. Based on the 1862 Victor Hugo novel of the same name and set between 1815 to 1832, the musical tells the tale of Jean Valjean and his pursuit by the policeman Javert as Valjean and his adopted daughter Cosette deal with the impending revolution around them.

This famous musical is known for its haunting and memorable songs like “Do You Hear The People Sing?”, “I Dreamed A Dream”, and “On My Own”, and these are performed with crystal-clear perfection. The cast includes Simon Gleeson as Valjean, Earl Carpenter as Javert, Paul Wilkins as Marius, Emily Langridge as Cosette and Patrice Tipoki as Cosette’s mother Fantine. Although Gleeson and Carpenter stand out with their rich-toned voices, it is when the entire ensemble hits the last high note on “One Day More” that one realises it’s a team effort to deliver such a momentous, moving and magical musical experience to the audience.

Aside from the superb singing and score, Les Misérables‘ success also lies in its ability to juxtapose comedy and pathos within its story of gloom and doom. Scenes such as Cosette’s foster parents performing the funny number “Master of the House” and the love-segments between Cosette and her boyfriend Marius add to the emotional heft in this production.

My only small complaint is that the young actor who plays little Gavroche is difficult to understand both in speech and song. Being just eight years old and from Australia, it is understandable that perhaps he couldn’t make Gavroche’s cockney accent more decipherable.

The set and backdrops are elaborate and exciting, with their ability to turn from Valjean’s estate to the dirty bar house where Cosette is raised, then to a cave where Valjean carries a comatose Marius injured in the Revolution. The costumes are equally impressive and apt for the various social classes of that era.

In the end, Les Miz proves a timeless musical, still with remarkable visual and aural splendor more than 30 years on.

About Sharmila Melissa Yogalingam

Ex-professor, Ex-phd student, current freelance critic, writer and filmmaker.

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