Les Miserables – REVIEW

Les Miserables – REVIEW
Image: LES MISERABLES Packemin. Image-Grant Leslie Photography

After a sellout season at the Riverside Theatres in 2020 this classic musical presented by Packemin Productions returns to the stage in a brand new spectacular show.

Packemin productions have prided themselves over the years in bringing many highly crafted and family friendly musicals for all avid theatregoers to enjoy and at very affordable prices. Some of their highly celebrated productions have included Oliver!, The Wizard of Oz, Hairspray, The Phantom of the Opera and most recently Kinky Boots.

For readers who may not be familiar with this musical the story is set in 19th century France and broadly centers on Jean Valjean, a criminal who after serving 19 years in jail for the petty crime of stealing a loaf of bread and several escape attempts, is released and skips bail. He struggles to make an honest life for himself but must outrun Javert, a police officer who will spend the rest of his life trying to bring this fugitive to justice.

LES MISERABLES Packemin. Image-Grant Leslie Photography

There are other plotlines intermingled in this poignant and emotional story, delving into the social issues of the era, many of which are still evident today. The abuse and despair of impoverished women, the adverse effects of industrialism, the so-called criminal justice system, and the resilience of the ‘wretched outcasts’ who justifiably revolt against a barbaric and unfair government.

The mood of the story is depressing with several characters injecting comical interludes, a welcome release for audiences from the grimness and harsh reality of the evil and human suffering.

Underneath the darkness of this epic and vastly sweeping saga lies a story of hope with resonating themes of the desire for redemption, forgiveness, love, and sacrifice. Audiences should leave the theatre with the clear message that righteousness may ultimately prevail over the evil and wrongful.

This ambitious production boasts a huge cast of 40 passionate performers on stage, starring Daniel Belle and Robert McDougall in the pivotal roles of Jean Valjean and Javert respectively. The wonderfully choreographed musical sequences are further heightened by the catchy songs sung with much vigour by the talented cast. The songs include Do You Hear The People Sing, I Dream A Dream, and One Day More.

LES MISERABLES, Packemin Theatre. Image: Grant Leslie Photography

Much of the music is soft, and pensive, aptly expressing sadness, beautifully performed by a 19 piece orchestra.

A special mention must be made of the all-important staging, especially the barricade scene in the second act where the lighting, direction, sound, and the incredible acting from all performers on stage culminate in a shattering and extremely realistic representation of the deadly nature of this 19th century revolution.

This is an excellent musical which is suitable for all audiences. Emotions should run high as highlighted on opening night when the cast received a rapturous and visibly sentimental applaud from audiences during the final curtain call.

Until August 12

Riverside Theatres, corner of Church & Market Streets, Parramatta.





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