Review: Les Misérables at Palace Theatre

There’s a reason the new production of Les Mis has been seen by 70 million people in 52 countries -  it is breathtakingly incredible.

The Boublil and Schonberg musical masterpiece was brought to life 34 years ago when it took to the stage based on Victor Hugo’s novel and underwent a restage on its 25th anniversary by the theatrical genius that is Cameron Mackintosh.

Now it is on tour and proving to be the hottest ticket in town, selling out within a matter of days for its month-long residency at the Palace Theatre. For those lucky enough to be going, you are in for a treat (just make sure you take plenty of tissues).

Starring in the lead role of Jean Valjean and following in the footsteps of Alfie Boe and Hugh Jackman (who starred in the award-winning 2012 film), is Killian Donnelly. Within minutes he erases all comparisons of those who have gone before as he delivers a mesmerising performance as the former prisoner on the run, turning his life around in the process.

Donnelly has a rich voice which is made for the role, every note he sings has so much passion and meaning to it. You could hear a pin drop when he sang the heart-wrenching number Bring Him Home.

Nic Greenshields may not have the audience on his side as the hard-nosed officer Javert but he is equally as commanding onstage as Donnelly and when both are together there’s an electric fission that is wonderful to witness.

Katie Hall makes for a captivating Fantine with goose bump enhancing vocals and bringing on the comedy element in the bucket loads are the fabulous Martin Ball and Sophie-Louise Dann as the dodgy innkeepers Monsieur and Madame Thenardier.

In fairness, all the cast are outstanding from start to finish and to say that the musical lasts three hours (including interval time) there is not one moment that you take your eyes off the action which is testament to the sheer brilliance of those in the spotlight.

There’s also a huge creative team behind the scenes that have worked their magic to the max, delivering a production of epic proportions. Matt Kinley’s set and image design transports you back to 19th Century France with a jaw-dropping barricade and impressive use of projections that both nod to Victor Hugo’s imaginings and also provide a cinematic feel to moments of high drama. Paule Constable’s lighting complements the piece throughout, providing harsh striking spots and candlelight to evoke emotion which is especially effective during Empty Chairs at Empty Tables.

A final nod must go to Michael Ashcroft and Geoffrey Garratt for their musical staging, which is no mean feat in this herculean production – they have the audience in awe for their stunning work on the anthemic numbers Do You Hear the People Sing and One Day More.

You can see why so many have fallen in love with Les Misérables – it is truly mind-blowing and leaves you on an emotional high, exhausted to the bone at what you have just witnessed.

This has to be one of the most outstanding pieces of musical theatre I have seen.

If you don’t have a ticket this time around, don’t despair as the musical is set to return in 2020 at The Lowry Salford and tickets for that go on sale on Friday 1st March. Make sure you get in quick!

Les Misérables runs at the Palace Theatre, Manchester until 30th March

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Les Misérables at The Lowry in 2020
Tickets go on sale Friday 1st March

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