Emotional, energetic and utterly heartbreaking: What we thought of Les Misérables at Newcastle's Theatre Royal

I dreamed a dream of finally seeing Les Misérables on stage.

Thursday, 22nd August 2019, 4:45 pm
The story that captured a nation. Picture: Helen Maybanks.
The story that captured a nation. Picture: Helen Maybanks.

And that dream became a reality at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal as Cameron Mackintosh’s acclaimed Broadway production of Victor Hugo’s epic tale opened for a seven-week run.

The story, the songs, the sadness – there is no doubt that Les Mis is a classic, still loved by thousands of fans around the world after more than 30 years onstage.

No matter how many times you’ve read the book, saw the show or watched the film, it’s impossible not to be touched by the journey of protagonist Jean Valjean; from almost two decades as prisoner 24601 to Monsieur Madeleine and adoptive father to Cosette, whether it’s the first or 50th time.

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    Played embeccably by Killian Donnelly, Valjean has got to be one of the most coveted roles on the theatre circuit – and one of the most demanding.

    We root for him, fight with him and cry with him as life and misery take their toll.

    But we all love a villain; enter police inspector Javert (Nic Greenshields) who makes it his life’s mission to bring Valjean to justice after he is freed from slavery but breaks his parole.

    He may be loathed and detested by many – and Greenshields took more than a few jeers from the crowd as the show came to a close – but there’s no disputing the quality of his character.

    He’s determined, unwavering and – in the end – conflicted and confused, succumbing to his own personal tragedy.

    We hate you Javert, but we love to hate you.

    It may sound a cliche, but it’s really difficult to pick the highlights from a production so absolutely packed with excellence.

    I’ve got a soft spot for cheeky Gavroche, the lovable young boy who joins the ranks at the barricade, and the heartbreaking life lived by Eponine gets me in the gut every time.

    Katie Hall as Fantine. Picture: Helen Maybanks.

    Katie Hall’s turn as Fantine was jaw-dropping, while my stomach actually hurt laughing at Master and Madam of the House Martin Ball and Sophie-Louise Dann.

    Never taken the Les Mis journey? Now’s your chance, don’t miss out.

    *Les Misérables is on at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal until Saturday, October 5.

    The epic Les Miserables is at Newcastle's Theatre Royal. Picture: Helen Maybanks.
    The show is at the Theatre Royal in Newcastle until the autumn. Picture: Helen Maybanks.