Les Miserables Review from 1999

"He is young, he's soooooo young"....
(read on to get what I mean with this title)

The new Les Mis cast has arrived. I was all too glad to see what splendid people were coming to the Palace. I must say, most of them are really brilliant. In alphabetical order: Joanna Ampil is fantastic. Words don't suffice to say how good she is as Eponine. She sings like an angel and makes every line a highlight. It makes you beg for more songs for Ponine. Her On My Own is breathtaking, and many people were digging up a tissue (including yours truly). Her part in the Attack on Rue Plumet has to be seen; what an intensity !!! When I was waiting at the Stage Door, she came out and recognised me. She's so sweet, really great and very modest.

Niklas is the new Marius and he's good. Not really fitted into the role yet, but he has great potential. He interacts very well with Joanna (I wonder why ), and he looks very good. Simon Bowman was not my most likely choice for Valjean and it turned out to be a mixed performance. His first scenes were good, really portraying the beast Valjean is. When he gets into his Soliloquy, things start to get dodgy. He cannot sing the high notes and therefore sqeezes himself like a lemon to get the notes out, and his voice brakes, nothing doing... Who am I is the same story: he doesn't even sing the 2460*1* note as it should be. Bring Him Home was *the* highlight (not). He started with "God on high, hear my prayer, he is young, you have always been there. he is young, he's sooooo young, ...". I was crawling under my seat of laughter... I shall swallow any further comment. He has nice moments, when he really adds some acting to certain lines, but overall nothing special. He would make a great Javert, but I don't really see him becoming a great Valjean...

Peter Corry is at the Palace as Javert now. Good voice (superb actually) but in my view, not really a Javert-voice. He's too sweet: Stars sounded like a lulaby, but it was stunning. His Suicide was very good, truly great. You can see he knows what he's doing.

Zoe Curlett is one of the highlights in this new cast !!! She's the perfect Cosette and she has the voice of an angel. I've never heard such a good Cosette in my life !!!!! Go and hear her !

Mandy Holliday and Barry James are a wonderful Thenardier couple. James is very very evil and Mandy is simply hilarious. It s the first time that I see a Thenardier as drunk as James: he really is almost falling down. Paul Manuel is doing Enjolras now, and I still think he s no good. He barks a bit less than he used to, but he still lacks a lot of charisma, and he STILL does this shaking hands at the end of Red and Black, which is hilarious.

Rebecca Thornhill is a very very nice Fantine, really great. She is still searching for the best approach, but she has a lot of potential. She has a beautiful voice and has no trouble at all belting the top notes. Of the ensemble, I should mention Gerard Bentall (very emotional Joly), Sam Hiller (dirty Bamatabois), Paul Monaghan as the Bishop (great) and Paul Peacock as Feuilly. The ensemble all work very well together, and at the beginning of Red and Black (just after Ponine sings "she knows her way around", I heard someone shouting "TO BE OR NOT TO BE!" in the ABC Cafe, just before the music started. It was great, and this detail shows how good the new cast is...

(Sven Verlinden)

Les Miserables Tickets are now on sale

Originally published on

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