Who has played Jean Valjean in ‘Les Miserables’ in London?
Discover the lead actors that have taken on the role of Jean Valjean in the original London production of Les Miserables.
Les Miserables has been entertaining London audiences for over 30 years, with Jean Valjean now solidified in musical theatre history as one of the greatest characters of all time. The musical is now at the newly-named Sondheim Theatre, so we’re taking a look back at actors that’ve played Jean Valjean in Les Miserables in London.
The actors listed below are just some of the biggest names to have played Jean Valjean. Over three decades, dozens of actors have brought it home, so to speak, with a rousing performance in Les Miserables.
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Jon Robyns currently stars as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables at the Sondheim Theatre. At the start of his career, he played Marius in Les Miserables. But after starring in Hamilton, Memphis, Dessa Rose, Spamalot and Road Show, Robyns returns to Les Miserables in the lead role.
Wilkinson originated the role of Jean Valjean in the West End, and has since appeared in a number of Les Miserables’ productions across the world, including Broadway and Canada. The anthem “Bring Him Home” was written especially for Wilkinson, with the star often reprising the song in concerts, including a ‘Valjean Quartet’ in 2010 alongside Alfie Boe, Simon Bowman and John Owen-Jones.
First playing Jean Valjean in 1998, John Owen-Jones was the youngest person at the time to have taken on the lead role in Les Miserables. He returned to the original production in 2005, staying in the role for two years before making his Broadway debut. Appearing in touring productions of Les Miserables as well as playing the lead role on the 25th Anniversary Tour, Owen-Jones is a notorious Valjean.
Alfie Boe first played Jean Valjean in the 25th-anniversary concert of Les Miserables, which took place at the O2 Arena in 2010. A year later, Boe made his Queen’s Theatre debut, reprising his lead role performance for a limited engagement from 23rd June to 26th November 2011. In 2015, he returned to playing ‘24601’ at the Imperial Theatre on Broadway. He also led the all-star concert cast at the Gielgud Theatre in 2019, opposite Michael Ball as Javert and Matt Lucas as Thénardier.
After being scouted in Ireland, Killian Donnelly made his West End debut as a swing in Les Miserables. Working his way up through the cast, Donnelly covered roles including Javert, Enjolras and Jean Valjean, however he did not assume the lead role until 2017. Donnelly has also starred in Kinky Boots as Charlie Price and Memphis as Huey.
First starring as Jean Valjean in Australia, Simon Gleeson joined the West End cast of Les Miserables in December 2016. Having starred in productions across three continents, Gleeson’s performance as Valjean has earned him international acclaim, nominated for an Australian Helpmann Award. Gleeson first performed in the West End in 2005, starring in The Far Pavilions.
As the final actor to play Jean Valjean in the original West End production of Les Miserables, Dean Chisnall rounds off a star-studded history of actors in the role. Taking over the role in 2018, Chisnall’s West End credits include the titular ogre in Shrek the Musical, as well as appearing in Love Never Dies and Evita.
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