Tag Archive: Les Miserables


Okay, the most popular musical in the world comes to town. Now, I’ve experienced Les Misérables in the West End so therefore couldn’t pass an opportunity to see the tour. However, the fact it is so popular means tickets are like gold and despite great efforts, my party was still in Row W of the Birmingham Hippodrome (Three from the rear of the stalls).

Now my only major gripe is with the theatre itself. Don’t charge over £50 for seats with what is essentially a restricted view. In Row W, you’re under the Circle and viewing the stage is somewhat akin to watching through a letterbox. Then, the sound. You’re in this claustrophobic area and the full audio experience doesn’t reach. Think ditching a surround sound system to use a transistor radio instead. There we have the big niggles, so on with the show.

From start to finish Les Misérables is everything you’d expect. Good staging and excellent performances in both acting and voice. Okay, the set is nowhere near as good as at The Queen’s Theatre, London and the revolving stage is sorely missed. But not every theatre is equipped for this, therefore I’ll give the tour the benefit of doubt.

I must first pay great praise to Killian Donnelly (Jean Valjean) and Nic Greenshields (Javert). Both are at the top of their game and could not have been better in the respective solos of Who Am I? Bring Him Home, Stars and Javert’s Suicide. Other great numbers on the night (Not that any were poor) included Master of the House, In My Life, A Heart Full of Love and A Little Fall of Rain. My favourite number, though, is always One Day More, having performed the Javert lines on several occasions.

The character of Marius was Harry Apps who gave a good rendition of Empty Chairs at Empty Tables. However, the appearances Marius’ dead friends were not as haunting as I’ve previously seen them. Cosette was portrayed by Bronwen Hanson and for once, it was lovely to see this character less of a Mary-Sue and more realistic as the young woman she would have been, given her upbringing. And a beautiful voice.

The unfortunate Fantine was Katie Hall who delivered I Dreamed a Dream the best I’ve heard. Then there were the Thénardiers (Martin Ball and Sophie-Louise Dann). These roles always add comic relief, surprising for characters so vile, and this occasion did not disappoint. Eponine has always been my favourite, though, so I was delighted with the excellent vocals from Tegan Bannister while Will Richardson was also in good form as Enjolras.

A couple of downsides with the show itself: I did wonder why Eponine changed ethnicity during puberty and it would also have been nice to know which child performers were in the roles on the night. Plus, the consequences of the barricade battle were a let-down without the revolving stage to reveal a tableau of broken bodies on the other side.

The touring production of Les Misérables was directed by Laurence Connor and James Powell while musical supervision and direction was in the hands of Stephen Brooker, Graham Hurman and Ben Atkinson.

So, which is better, the version in the West End or this one? If, I’m honest, I’d opt for the former, but this was still a fantastic show which I highly recommend.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

This May, Aldridge Musical Comedy Society (AMCS) make a welcome return to the Prince of Wales Theatre, Cannock for a magnificent celebration of fifty years as a society. The show is Fabulous at 50 and never has a title been so apt. Last year, AMCS put on two well-received productions of the highest standard in Thoroughly Modern Millie and Once Upon a Time. You can expect Fabulous at 50 to be no different.

Aldridge Musical Comedy Society (AMCS) Fabulous at 50 – Prince of Wales Theatre, Cannock – 18 to 20 May 2017

Great voices, breathtaking dance and good humour, Fabulous at 50 features numbers from Les Misérables, Oklahoma, All Shook Up, Oliver, Rent and many more. Direction for Fabulous at 50 is in the safe hands of Julie Lamb with choreography by Sarah Hemming and musical direction – Mark Bayliss. Julie, who is also chairperson of the society, spoke about the show, “I’m so proud to be celebrating the 50th anniversary of AMCS and feel very honoured to be directing such a talented group of people on this special occasion.”

Making a return to the stage is society president, Paula Garratt, who appeared in AMCS’ first ever production – Calamity Jane. “When I started with AMCS 50 years ago,” Paula said, “I never thought I would be lucky enough to join this great company on stage in celebration of those 50 years. I am very proud of everyone associated with the society.”

AMCS currently has a core of 30 members and are always on the lookout for more of all ages. Rehearsing in Aldridge every Wednesday, the society, in addition to two shows a year, also perform for charity functions and care homes.

Aldridge Musical Comedy Society (AMCS) Fabulous at 50 – Prince of Wales Theatre, Cannock – 18 to 20 May 2017 © Antony N Britt 2017

And the shows continue. With Smokey Joe’s Café (Nov 2017) and West Side Story (May 2018) already confirmed, the next fifty years is underway. But not until this current celebration is complete and from experience, AMCS guarantee the 50th anniversary show will be nothing less than Fabulous.

Fabulous at 50 is on 18 to 20 May 2017 (1930 start). Prince of Wales Theatre, Cannock.

Tickets available from AMCS (01543 480626) or Box Office (01543 578762).

Adults £12. Concession £10 and Under 16s £8.

Aldridge Musical Comedy Society (AMCS) Fabulous at 50 – Prince of Wales Theatre, Cannock – 18 to 20 May 2017

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

I was recently privileged to witness a journey through the years, courtesy of Bournville Musical Theatre Company. And Through the Decades was just that. A showcase of not only several eras in pop, rock and musical theatre, but also an example of how music has evolved during those times.

Through the Decades – The Austin Social Club – 16 October 2016

This was my first experience of the Bournville company and I was not disappointed.

From the opening rock and roll of the 1950s, I found myself captivated, tapping away and singing along (and not always silent, I may add) to the numbers performed on stage.

Good use of a three-piece band: Keyboard, drums and bass, provided all the sound needed. Combine that with great singing, dance and characterisation, you had a fabulous show before you.

Each section was introduced by a video consisting of films representing the relevant decade before launching into their opening number.

Of the songs, themselves, I’d have too long a list if I named all I enjoyed. Therefore, I’ll have to rely on the first which spring to memory.

A mix together of You’re my World and All I See is You were exceptional as was the case with the harmonies of Mr Sandman. For the 70s we had a Grease set of which Hopelessly Devoted to You, shone. Act One ended with a company number of Bohemian Rhapsody, and it shows you’re good if you pull that one off.

Into Act Two and a song from one of my favourite musicals in One Day More (Les Miserables). It was then I found myself further surprised. You see, I consider myself more a rock person. However, I was completely drawn in by fabulous performances of Total Eclipse of the Heart, She’s the One and Torn (one of my favourites of the night). Then we had Bournville’s very own Spice Girls. Now come on, I’ve said I’m into rock, and I’ve never taken any notice of the Spice Girls. But I liked these ones.

Probably, for me, the most powerful number was a combination of the Adele songs, Turning Tables and Rolling in the Deep. And that’s where I come back to what I said at the start. Whereas my eras are more late 70s to early 80s, it’s interesting to see how much music has evolved since the 1950s. Despite not being my type of music, there seems to be greater depth and complexity about more recent offerings. I guess we’re always discovering techniques that it’s inevitable a new generation will improve. And that’s a good thing. I enjoy the past, but don’t want to live it again.

Rounding off the show were two numbers from School of Rock. Great. A bit of rock. I’d not heard these songs before but having done so courtesy of Bournville Musical Theatre Company, I went online and ordered the original cast recording CD the next day. And I’ll probably be making a trip to the West End, too.

So well done to all, especially Rachel Fox (Producer), Chris Corcoran (Musical Direction), and Kris Evans, Helen Gauntlett, Karen Lane, Chloe Turner, Sadie Turner (Choreography).

At the start of Act One, we had a preview of the companies next show, The Pajama Game. On this performance, it will be well worth going to see.

Through the Decades – The Austin Social Club – 16 October 2016

Cheers

Nick

So how do I go about reviewing a show that’s run for thirty years? Well, most I write up are local to me, therefore, I thought I’d concentrate on the difference between these and the West End.

Les Miserables – The Queen’s Theatre, London – 1 October 2016 © Antony N Britt

How did they compare? Well, shows I’ve seen at Birmingham’s Hippodrome and Alexander Theatre, etc, have all been excellent. However, whether or not it was the occasion, or the fact I saw Les Miserables in its actual home, there seemed to be a little extra magic. Yes, I can say I lived the dream.

Les Miserables – The Queen’s Theatre, London – 1 October 2016 © Antony N Britt

The first thing to notice is the intenseness of the Queen’s Theatre auditorium. This helps somewhat to draw you into proceedings, making you feel every emotion as if you are part of the show. I’ve heard the soundtrack too many times to count so from the moment Look Down began, I was hooked.

A set changing like a 3D jigsaw included an impressive barricade, complimented by a revolving stage which heightened the motion before you.

As for the show itself, there were polished performances both on stage and from the orchestra. And I guess there may have been greater impact for my viewing than I’d have seen on a tour. Then again, they’ve had a few years to perfect this at The Queen’s.

By far the best number for me was Stars in which Jeremy Secomb as Javert was excellent. Also delivering a fine performance was Peter Lockyer as Valjean. However, my favourite has always been Eponine as I’m captured by the tragedy and hopelessness her character represents. On this occasion, Eva Noblezada did the part total justice. One My Own was powerful, although I was slightly disappointed with A Little Fall of Rain as I felt the musical arrangement lacked the feeling the song should have had. Other stand out numbers included One More Day, Lovely Ladies and Empty Chairs at Empty Tables, the latter of which had the poignant appearance of the dead behind Marius, this performance, played by Felix Mosse.

David Langham and Katy Secombe added comic relief at times as Thenardier and Madame T. Other cast included Sophie Reeves (Fantine), Zoe Doano (Cosette) and Chris Cowley (Enjolras).

The only down I’d put on the show are certain lines of dialogue. And it’s not really a criticism, more a niggle. There are far too many mentions of God’s will and generally being grateful to God for everything. Quite frankly, I don’t reckon the world’s number one imaginary friend cares much for his subjects portrayed on stage. But as I say, that’s just a personal observation from the atheist in the audience.

On the day, time flew and the cast received a well earned standing ovation at the end. And I have to say, I’m delighted to have been witness to a little magic.

Les Miserables – The Queen’s Theatre, London – 1 October 2016

Cheers.


Nick

 

Yearning for a trip to the theatre? Can’t wait to see Mary Poppins on stage? Well Step in Time as memories of Broadway and the West End hit the region this month.

Musical Memories - Aldridge Musical Comedy Society

A spectacular concert of song and dance, Musical Memories is the latest offering from the awesome Aldridge Musical Comedy Society (AMCS). For almost 50 years, AMCS have been delivering quality productions, and this is no exception.

Numbers draw from a variety of shows with something for everyone. If it’s classics you’re after, you will not be disappointed with segments from Cats, Les Miserables, West Side Story, Miss Saigon and Evita. Then there are more contemporary with songs from Spamalot, Avenue Q, Sister Act, All Shook Up and The Little Mermaid. Plus, huge pieces hailing from Wicked, Jekyll and Hyde, Chess, Little Shop of Horrors and many more including a teaser for AMCS’ Spring 2016 production, Thoroughly Modern Millie.

Performed Wednesday 25 to Saturday 28 November 2015 at the Rugeley Rose Theatre, Rugely, tickets can be obtained from the AMCS box office on 01543 480626 with full details on websites – www.aldridgemcs.co.uk or www.musicalmemoriesshow.com.

Don’t miss out on this magnificent experience.

£12/adult, £10/Concessions and £6/Under 16s.

You can follow AMCS on Facebook for news of current and future productions.

facebook.com/aldridgemcs

Cheers.

Nick

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