Les Misérables at Milton Keynes Theatre (atgtickets.com)

Les Misérables at Milton Keynes Theatre Reviewed Friday 17th May 2019
Since the musical’s first outing in 1985 to mixed reviews it has been translated into 22 languages, in 52 countries and seen by upwards of 70 million people. It is a global phenomenon and surely will continue to run as families pass on their love for it through the generations creating new audiences far into the future. This musical is woven into the fabric of my family and to say there were sky high expectations is an understatement. I am so delighted to say these were more than exceeded. Non-sung-through film or serial adaptations have never hit the mark for me, probably because my first encounter was with the musical during its first run. Les Mis, to me, is Kretzmer’s lyrics and Schönberg’s music and this orchestra, under the pacy direction of Ben Atkinson, do full justice to the range and depth of the score. 
Leading this cast is the incredible Killian Donnelly as Jean Valjean with his nemesis Javert played by Nic Greenshields. The sheer physical presence and vocal power of these two immense talents shapes the show from the start and from the off it’s evident it’s going to be an extraordinary evening. Donnelly can do no wrong, defiant in ‘Who Am I?’, vulnerable in ‘Bring him Home’. Just wonderful. Greenshield looks like a colossus and his rendition of ‘Stars’ hits you in the solar plexus. Along with the innovative staging of his fall this is a powerful scene. 
The lead female characters - Kate Hall, quite wonderful as the tragic Fantine. ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ was an early breathtaking show stopper, and ‘Come to Me’ with Donnelly delivers the anticipated tragic pathos. Bronwen Hanson, is suitably gentle as Cosette, and Tegan Bannister plays a feisty Eponine. Neither of the latter has vast experience and whilst very assured, their performances seem just a tiny touch overplayed in key moments.
An outstanding ensemble, most playing several parts from factory workers, prisoners, and pimps, to whores, wedding guests and constables, and each role played with utter dedication and commitment. When they are together for group numbers - ‘Look Down’, ‘Can You Hear The People Sing?’, One Day More’ there energy is palpable across the stalls. Marius, played by Shane O’Riordan is excellent, Enjolras (Will Richardson) is particularly wonderful. The key humour from The Thénariders (Martin Ball and Sophie-Louise Dann) is as to be expected, bawdy and coarse. Shame that Dann was not clearly phrasing during this performance so some lyrics, and therefore humour, are lost. So noticeable because every other cast member is pin-sharp in vocal delivery.
The scale of Matt Kinley’s startling sets shows just what can be created when not allowing any limitations of a touring production to impinge on vision. Buildings reach up into the eves, the astounding barricades stretch right across the stage. In conjunction with Paule Constable’s ingenious and precise lighting design, numerous little worlds are shaped. The use of projections to create space, depth and the passing of time is inventive and takes us below ground and into the heavens. 
A PHENOMENAL production. I have not seen anything as fabulous as this for decades, and have not seen an audience react with such a lengthy and rapturous standing ovation ever! Go if you can.
With a much longer than usual run, until June 8th, and availability at a range of prices across some dates, for best availability Monday to Thursday performances call the theatre’s dedicated Les Misérables booking line on 01908 547669 (open Monday to Saturday, 12 – 6pm) or visit: https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/les-miserables/milton-keynes-theatre/
Check daily for returns and last minute ticket releases
Les Miserables - Milton Keynes Theatre - ATG Ticketswww.atgtickets.com