Archive for May, 2022


If there’s one musical everyone should see, it’s Les Misérables. And although it’s been running in London for many years between 1985 to the present, it’s always worth catching the tour. I do wonder, though, when Cameron Mackintosh took Schonberg and Boublil’s musical version of Victor Hugo’s novel of the same name, did he realized what a phenomenon he was about to unleash?

But a gigantic hit it was. Spectacular in all areas and you know at the end of Les Misérables, you’ve seen a show.

I caught the tour at the end of their stint in Milton Keynes. A decent theatre and probably the best view I’ve had of Les Mis. The plot is straightforward. Over a period of 17 years, Jean Valjean breaks parole, makes his fortune, constantly evades the unrelenting Inspector Javert, flees to Paris with the daughter of a woman he wronged, then gets caught up in the June Rebellion of 1832 amidst romance, turmoil and redemption.

In the role of Valjean, and with an incredible commanding voice was Dean Chisnall, playing alongside the superb Nic Greenshields (who I have seen twice in the role now) as Javert. The chemistry between the two was formidable.

Always good to have fresh talent so a pleasure it was to witness the professional debuts of Paige Blankson (Cosette) and Will Callan (Marius). I was extremely happy on the latter, having followed his journey during The Voice Kids in 2018 where he reached the final. A pity the online biography and program notes didn’t credit this.

Les Misérables – Milton Keynes Theatre – 20 May 2022

No performance of Les Misérables could be complete without the Thénardiers, this time perfectly portrayed by Ian Hughes and Helen Walsh. I never quite know if you should call them comic relief as they are so horrible, but I guess that’s good writing, to make people have a soft spot for something so vulgar. It is certainly ‘laugh out loud’ during Master of The House, particularly when the canary goes in the mincer.

Also giving strong performances were Rachelle Ann Go (Fantine), Nathania Ong (Eponine) and Samuel Wyn-Morris (Enjolras) among a cast of over 30.

The production on tour is directed by James Powell and Laurence Connor with musical supervision from Stephen Brooker and Graham Hurman. And there is still a way to go on this run, travelling the UK throughout the rest of the year and into early 2023. I’d advise you to catch it where you can.

Les Misérables – Milton Keynes Theatre – 20 May 2022

Cheers

Antony N Britt

Debbie Harry is nearly 77. Seventy-seven, God-dammit! I don’t know if that makes her old or me feel it. You see, 45 years ago, when I first discovered Blondie, I was barely fourteen years old myself. Once again, I am blessed that Blondie, like many of my favourite rock bands, are still about. I must have good taste for longevity. Okay, so due to Chris Steins’ ill-health, there were only two original members on stage: Debbie Harry and the brilliant Clem Burke on drums. But we also had Glen Matlock on bass, which was a bonus for me and the rock alumni of 1977.

Kicking off where it all began with X-Offender, a packed arena went back in time and unless you were in the first few rows (as I was) you’d be hard pressed to believe you were not seeing the band at their height during that era.

Harry hasn’t lost it a bit. Sure, after a handful of numbers, the heels had to come off as in her own words, she needed to get serious. But to still do a high-energy set lasting almost two hours is incredible.

We listened to hit after hit, but inexplicably, not Denis. That didn’t matter, and it was only afterwards I realised it had been omitted. There are so many more in the catalogue to rave about. Not just the early years, but from the post 1998 revival: Maria, My Monster, What I Heard, Long Time, Mother and best of all, one of my favourites, No Exit. All greeted with similar Rapture as the song of the same name.

But you also had the classics: Sunday Girl, Picture This, Dreaming, Call Me, Atomic, Heart of Glass … the list goes on. I was also overjoyed to hear Fade Away and Radiate in such an incredible set.

Save the best until last, Blondie finished with One Day or Another, a song so massive and popular, but never a single in the UK (until it charted digitally in 2013). This is the measure of a great song. No mainstream release but instantly recognisable.

The euphoria of the audience swept through the arena in one of the best gigs I have seen. Yes, even at that age, Harry rocks. Whereas myself and my partner (late 50s) hobbled back to the car afterwards, near unable to walk. Whatever Debbie Harry has, I’ll take some myself. Brilliant.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

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