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Les Misérables Makes an Impressive Comeback in Singapore!

By Flora  /  08 Jun 2016 (Wednesday)

Cameron Mackintosh’s acclaimed new production of Boublil and Schonberg’s legendary musical, Les Misérables, has finally come to Singapore since its run 20 years ago at the Kallang Theatre. 

The production, based on Victor Hugo’s classic novel, has injected new elements such as pyrotechnics and a digital backdrop that enhances the scenes’ visual flair. Throughout these years, Les Misérables has been known to be one of the greatest musicals of all-time, performed to over 70 million people worldwide in 44 countries. Even a Hollywood movie version had been well-received by moviegoers, bagging major awards including the Oscars and the Golden Globe Awards.

Les Misérables
Date: 1 June - 24 July
Time: 8pm
Venue: Esplanade Theatre
Ticket Pricing: S$58 - S$228

(Purchase your tickets at Sistic, here!)

The production currently performing at the Esplanade is the new production created five years ago to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the musical. Nick Allot, the managing director of Cameron Mackintosh company, and is one of the pioneers involved in the original production, shared some insights on the journey of the musical since its inception in 1985. “When we did the 10th anniversary, we were joking about how will we be celebrating the 20th anniversary, and when the time came, we decided to do a very, very big concert for the 25th anniversary. We then decided: ‘Okay, that’s it. No more birthdays.’ But you know, the 50th anniversary is now only 14 years away. So we need to start thinking about that!”

He added: “It was an enormous joy for me to sit at the stalls last night and see the show as if it was fresh again… I never get tired of seeing the show. It never ceases to thrill me. I think the biggest thrill for any producer or even an actor is to see the reactions from the audience.”

Despite the absence of the famous swivelling stage which is part of the original production, Les Misérables still manages to enthral and captivate audience young and old with its impeccable story. In this writer’s opinion, who had the opportunity to watch the production in London (the only theatre that is currently performing the original production), the incorporation of the projections not only complements the overall outlook of the show, and at times, heightening it’s visual attractiveness. 

“The reinvention of the 25th century embraced a lot of contemporary taste… it’s a more cinematic approach,” said Allot. “We were thinking about how things will move forward and obviously, technology is a wonderful thing as long as it serves the material. But for me, there will never be a substitute for live performances. Technology may make the sceneries but it will never change the performance.”

For the actors, to be a part of a production like Les Misérables is a dream come true, but a daunting experience at the same time - especially to come up to one’s expectation of a character, or for any character in the production for that matter.

For theatre veteran Simon Gleeson who plays Jean Valjean, he shared that it was ‘stressful’ at the beginning. 

“Certainly at the start, it was very stressful to play Jean Valjean but one of the first lesson I’ve learned is that I can’t control your expectation of me and what I do. I can’t influence and I can’t control it other than doing my job,” he said. 

“I do feel the expectation, but it doesn’t affect me the way when I first started. I put a lot of expectation on myself too.”

For the younger actors, audience’s reaction help in livening up their performances, despite playing the same character for years. 

“Audience response to different parts. Like the audience here in Singapore, I noticed last night that they loved the love bump between Cosette and Marius. And they love it, they go ‘Awww’, which had never happened to us before,” said Emily Langridge who plays Cosette. 

Fellow cast member Kerrie Anne Greenland who plays Eponine, agreed that the touring of countries also helped in that aspect. “I think the changing of city is really a big thing. Because you come to a new theatre, and there’s a new audience, we get wonderful responses… and that really helped us as actors.”

Les Misérables runs until July 24 at the Esplanade!
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