Tuesday, 24 December 2013


Ever since I first heard of Les Miserables, I have been fascinated and a tiny bit obsessed with it. I sobbed my way through it more than once in the cinema, insisted on helping out with every show when my school performed the musical - just to get to be there and watch it each night - and was given both the film soundtrack and a copy of the original book for my 17th birthday. Although at the moment the (huge) chunky text is sat being quietly ignored on my bookshelf - its about 7,000 pages long, okay?! - I've definitely been inspired to attempt to read it now. Maybe when I've watched the movie once more...
Anyway, yesterday, December 23rd, I was lucky enough to go and see the musical in the West End. I've been hoping this would happen for about two or so years now so it was a completely amazing experience. The show recently moved to Queen's Theatre and is now the longest running musical in the world. We booked tickets really last minute so ended up being sat at the back of the stalls, which isn't ideal as you can't really see the top of the barricades from there. However, the singing, the actors, costumes, sets and everything else about it made it so incredible that I stopped noticing the fact that some of the characters looked like they didn't have heads and I'm already planning to go again sometime.

I think the reason so many people all over the world love this show so much is because of how relatable it is. That may sound strange, given that the whole thing is set in revolutionary France, and we like to think the world has moved on since then. But all of the different bits of plot, the complicated lives of all the characters, mean that whatever you have experienced in your life, you can see a little bit of it in Les Mis. There are so many different relationships, so many themes going on, and the story is universal, ending with a message of hope, even when surrounded by death.

It's fair to say that Les Miserables isn't the most "happy" musical you could imagine - it's name is basically French for: "The Miserable Ones" after all - which is why the comic parts of it are so important. The audience sat up a bit straighter when the Thenardier's came on stage and their songs are the most entertaining by far. The contrast of laughing at them and enjoying the humour in their scenes makes you appreciate the sadness of the deaths of several characters and feel that you are on an emotional rollercoaster - everything from danger, fear, love, anger, redemption and finally hope are explored throughout the nearly 3 hour running time. It might be a long musical but it seemed to go by seriously fast. I felt like the curtains had only just risen when the actors started taking their bows to a standing ovation. My eye makeup was cried off down my cheeks by the middle of Act 1, I literally had to force myself not to start singing along and I can honestly say I hoped it would never be over. If you ever get the chance to see Les Miserables, definitely say yes! It's an experience you will never forget; you'll find yourself humming the songs weeks later, wishing you could see it for the first time all over again.

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