Les Misérables – Review – Leeds Grand Theatre
By Sandra Callard, November 2022
This remarkable and blindingly beautiful show wove a spell over the entire audience of Leeds Grand. There are not words perfect enough to truly describe what it is that engenders this massively glorious response of love, tears and joy to this particular piece of theatre – and I feel that I should know having seen it four times before – but words nevertheless are difficult to find.
This particular Les Misérables has a fine lead in Dean Chisnall as the reformed prisoner, Jean Valjean, who is saved by the gentle actions of a priest. His singing voice has a lovely tone and never wavers under the many songs he had to sing. It holds up beautifully on ‘Bring Him Home’, which has low and high keys which are held at length. He has a long and arduous part as he is on stage most of the time, but he carries his task with skill and affection and acquits Jean Valjean with the requisite honour.
Valjean’s persecutor, Javert, is brilliantly played by Nic Greenshields, and although he is a giant of a man, his tremendous voice is a surprising knockout when he first sings. His strong baritone reverberates around the theatre to great acclaim, and it is actually quite beautiful. Javert also executes the most stunning piece of special effects I have ever seen, as he contemplates suicide in the river. It’s a heart-stopping, breath-taking moment, and whoever was the genius behind this wonderful display deserves awards. It was utterly wonderful.
The whole cast are pitch perfect, and I particularly like Jenna Innes as she plays the damaged Éponine with a heartbreaking realism, and, of course the wonderful performance of Ian Hughes as he plays the despicable and filthy landlord Thernadier.
A big hand has to go to the children in the show, who play their parts with an uncanny professional joy which is delightfully infectious. Their gymnastics on the barricade are clever and daring and their bravery in the fight is very real – an essential but sad addition to the fight at the barricade.
It must be a mammoth task for everyone involved to do justice to a colossal hit such as this one, but I honestly could not see any kind of flaw in this production, and the audience certainly could not if their uproarious and lengthy applause at the curtain was anything to go by.
A wonderful night of theatre for everyone as the actors did their all and, in common parlance, pulled the whole thing off magnificently. Don’t hesitate to see it.
‘Les Misérables’ is at Leeds Grand Theatre until Sat 10 December 2022