I think this is currently my #2 favourite musical. (Lion King‘s sentimental value and incredibly innovative production design has the edge over this.)
1. I love that it’s just all song. I don’t think any line was really spoken – always sung. Now that’s a pure musical.
2. The production design is excellent. The lighting was spectacularly done and the sets were really good! (As someone said, “That’s a very Yuin-Y-ish thing to say!” lol. If the production design was awful, I wouldn’t like it half as much. I must have that combination of story and technique~ )
Some of the songs were pretty memorable too. The prologue was totally riveting – the Work Song combined with the great lighting and set (prisoners serving time as galley slaves on a ship, I think). Found a recording of the prologue on Youtube from the 2002 Broadway production here. I think the one I saw was way better though! This one’s setting didn’t look so impressive. haha
Eponine’s songs (On My Own and A Little Fall of Rain) were so heartbreaking! And the Master of the House was funny – those Thénardiers are scoundrels, but that song is amusing. And of course, Do You Hear the People Sing is a really stirring number!
I bought the photobook (“brochure,” they called it) and at the end there’s a review by Benedict Nightingale, the theatre critic for The Times. I think he summed it up oh-so-well:
Our increasingly cynical world finds it near impossible to believe that goodness exists, let alone that it can be a compelling passion. But Les Mis takes the opposite view, presenting us with a bitter, brutalised criminal who is converted by another man’s generosity into someone who tends the weak, needy and outcast, is prepared to sacrifice his own safety and happiness to others, and refuses to hurt his most unforgiving foe when he has him in his clutches; and the show has the imaginative thrust and the emotional authenticity to make you believe that, yes, all this could be true.
Scanned a few pics from the photobook. The first pic up there is the cover – it’s bigger than my scanner so part of it got cut off, like the subtitle that says “The New 25th Anniversary Production.”
From the At the End of the Day sequence.
Jean Valjean and Fantine.
Master of the House sequence.
Marius meets Cosette.
Scene from the battle (back cover of the photobook, haha).
I only regret that I didn’t have a better seat – was very far off to the left of the balcony and kinda high up. It shouldn’t have been too bad except that there was this big tall guy sitting right in front of me and he was blocking my view. I had to tilt to one side or the other throughout the whole show (it’s about 2.5 hours long). But it’s soooo darn popular. I think the Playhouse was nearly full; I barely saw any empty seats. I think I missed a lot of the impact by sitting so much to the side.
To (attempt to) remedy this… I shall go see it again since it’s still playing here for another two weeks. Muahahahhaah.