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"LES MISERABLES"
Earlier Opinions from Theatremonkey Contributors

Back to Show Information for the current Queen's Theatre production.

Please note: Some reviews can contain "spoilers" - please don't read if this bothers you!
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FROM THE PALACE THEATRE PRODUCTION:

"Les Miserables" is fantastic. I loved it, and it comes joint second with "My Fair Lady" in my "favourites" list. 

My seat was dreadful though - row C in the Balcony - very high!

I give les Misérables 8/10!!!

E .Bernstone
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We had to write a report on Les Miserables for my theatre school and ever since I wrote the report I've wanted to go and see it. The review here is exactly what happens in the show!

Edward Barber
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Well, my dear theatre monkey, I have to say the ultimate of theatre experiences for me is Les Misérables. I had the fortune to be taken for the first time on my 30th birthday, and I haven't looked back since.

I love it with a passion, it makes you laugh cry, sing and want to start your own revolt!!! I have been loads of times. I didnt enjoy it as much the last time I went, as my favourite policeman (the scrummy Javert) was played by am imposter!!!!!!!!!!!! Shock horror and double gasp!!!! But i am informed the REAL Javert is back on the 2.12.02, phew thank goodness.

So if you see a young lady dribbling on the side lines thats me, I would be there all the time if I could, but I think I would start to scare the cast. (And i hear there is a stalking law now :-) )

Angie.
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I've seen "Les Mis" twice at the Palace and it is superb! Even better, my favourite actor ever was starring as Javert the two times i saw it!...i think Jerome Pradon is absolutely brilliant! He gives so much power and emotion to his performances...so did every single actor on that stage!

It's amazing how much volume and great sound they can project from the stage!...and I counted only around 25 members of the chorus!.. Absolutely brilliant!...it's sad/emotional/funny/and so energetic! 10/10!!! 
go and see it!!! 

Carys Boulton 
-x- 
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I recently went to see Les Mis at the Palace Theatre at an 'off peak'  Thursday matinee (no longer running). (well done to Cameron Mackintosh for this brilliant  pricing idea- without it I fear "Les Mis" and "Phantom" may have gone the way of "Cats" as the pressure for available playhouses grew- ("The Producers", "La  Boheme", "Anything Goes", "Mary Poppins", "Sound of Music" et al)

When I turned up at the theatre, having booked through Lastminute.com, I was disappointed to find that the seats were in row A of the stalls. At a reduced offer price of £20 these offered barely adequate value for money compared to the balcony and Upper Circles.

For admiring the strength of the performances, these seats were ideal- and the performances I saw were strong indeed. Michael McCarthy has an ideal stature and voice for my favourite role- Javert and Hans Peter Jansen is more than able in the role of Valjean- (a transfer to "Phantom" for these outstanding vocalists would be amazing????) The Thernardiers were also brilliant up close. Even from the Dress Circle you miss most of their hysterical interaction, and its worth sitting in the stalls for this alone. 

For me the star of the show was the young boy who played Gavroche. I normally see the use of children in musicals (with the obvious exception of "Bugsy Malone") as risky as often they do not have the vocal strength or discipline which this exacting art form requires. On this occasion, however, I was very glad to be proven wrong. Young Gavroche provided one of the strongest voices on the stage and his acting was superb. His dying scene was a bit hammy, but the problem there lies in the libretto rather than the performance. The current Marius is however, fairly weak and I doubt that Jon of S Club fame will be bucking this trend.

However, row A was by no means perfect; the grandeur and spectacle of this magnificent show was lost as a result being tucked up against the orchestra pit and staring up at the extended stage. On many occasions, the front of the stage seems crowded and oddments of furniture blocked the view of the players. Any action which occurred on the rear portion of the stage was lost as no more than head and shoulders of the actors were visible. The Barricade scene was the only one I could watch comfortably. The infamous turntable proves equally irksome from this angle, despite its invisibility, as its incessant, irrelevant motion detracts from (and perhaps, my inner cynic suggests, negates the need for) actual acting. Sound quality is good in this row, although, sitting on the left hand side of the theatre the horns were slightly unbalanced, often overmastering the strings. But now I'm being VERY picky.

These seats offer fair value at Off Peak performances, particularly if your interested in the show on a musical rather than Theatrical level. I would not however, reccommend these seats to first time viewers as the view they offer is unlikely to get you hooked.

William Cooper
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Wow! Having wanted to see the show for seven years, I made it, and "wow" just about sums it up!

The staging is beyond compare, and I think this is one of the few shows where the theatregoer benefits from a higher position, in the Dress or Upper circles. The way the barricades come together is truly awe-inspiring.

As for the show itself, my companions, not being such avid fans as I am, had some difficulty following the story. I strongly recommend a read of the programme to fill in any gaps. 

The emotions in me were running high, I can tell you. I left the theatre in tears, and was halfway to Buckingham Palace before I stopped (much to the amusement of my mum!). It's something you have to see to feel its true strength, and it is a tribute to Hugo that the characters he writes are brought to life through the astonishing music and direction of this musical so truly.

Kyrsty Mewett
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We took the monkeys advice and went to see Les Mis. WOW!!! Amazing. We sat in the Palace Theatre stalls Row M seats 20 and 21. Perfect view and sound. John Lee has made a great transition from Pop to Musical. A must See.
 
Andrew Robinson
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The show was amazing, and the seats (Palace Theatre stalls F26 and 27) were perfect!!! you could see everything really well, the only bit I couldn't see was one minuscule bit in "Red and Black" where Enjolras was blocking Marius a bit, but that was it.
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I'd heard that "Les Miserables" was going to be the best musical I would see. I was more skeptical, however I chose to see it over "We Will Rock You" and what a good choice it was. I thoroughly enjoyed the fantastic staging, musical score and costumes.

The emotional punch that this production embodies is found nowhere else and in no other production, although "Miss Saigon" does come close. The sheer volume of storyline is certainly not something to fear when thinking about going to see "Les Mis" - it is something to look forward to! The sad yet sometimes uplifting storyline still provides a breath of fresh air from the now increasingly popular musicals made about famous Rock or Pop stars.

I give Les Miserables five stars and recommend anyone over the age of 13 to see it now! 

Ben Wooldridge 
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What a spectacle.

Unmissable (particularly before it moves, ruining the west end by getting rid of greatest musicians in the world). Story is true, deep, complex (although not hard work) and songs are genuine and stand by themselves, not like many Webber works.

Actors are incredible, and voices are exceptional.

I came out not knowing which song to start humming, and with 2 completely converted friends. Pips "Miss Saigon" with the raw emotion, another classic.

In a beautiful theatre (PALACE), one of the best few evenings out in the West End!

Alf

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Another, longer review is available at reader Trud's page: http://catnip.o-f.com/lesmiserablesreview.htm

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I have seen Les Miserables in January 2003and it was very hard for me to not notice the cuts . it is not "the bits that restored a year a go", it is lots of things from the original musical.

I hope the performance will still be good in the Queen's theatre as it was at the Palace Theatre.

Shai Helfman
Jerusalem
Israel

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I've seen many a West End musical but "Les Mis" remains my all time favourite. I love the complexity of the plot, the drama, the characters, the music and the fact that it never ceases to make me cry! I urge you to go see it and take a box of tissues. I've seen it nine times so far at the Palace and I've enjoyed it from every angle - front stalls, back stalls, boxes, circles. I have not seen it at The Queens yet but am planning on a trip this summer just to recharge my batteries.

Debbie, 
Greenford
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FROM THE QUEEN'S THEATRE PRODUCTION

After seeing Les Miserables for the first time last night, I just wanted to share my thoughts of it.

I've been wanting to see this show for years, but only got the opportunity last night. The show itself didn't disappoint, all the cast were perfect and I was particularly impressed with Jon Lee in the role of Marius. I was sat in row Q in the stalls, and even though I had a perfect view and adequate leg room, I couldn't help but think how I would've liked to have been closer to the stage. I felt slightly out of the action so to speak. The overhang does block a little of the top half of the set, but nothing to ruin the experience.

All in all, I had a enjoyable night out and it's definitely one show that all theatregoers must see at some point. It is incredibly powerful, moving and breathtaking. It left me feeling exhilarated and wanting to experience it all again, so much so that I went out and bought the DVD at the end.

Miss M. Billham
Southend, Essex
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I booked tickets to see "les Misérables" a couple of months ago, without really knowing that it had moved to Queens Theatre. 

After it was booked, I heard from all different people that it was changing theatres. People were saying that the move had totally changed the production and that it wasn't going to be the same any more, however, they were all misinformed. I'd seen "Les Miz" at the Palace Theatre before, and it was definitely just as good as that, if not better. 

I just wanted to let people know that, although the orchestra has slightly changed, the musical was still just as fantastic as it had been beforehand!
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Absolutely fantastic. I first saw it about 18 years ago (half a life-time!) and this time I took my 9 year old daughter who was mesmerised (particularly enjoyed Jon Lee who was really talented). The cast got a well deserved standing ovation at the end.
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I've seen the show five times (4 at Palace Theatre) and on Saturday (24th July 2004) went to Queens. I was sat in row C of the stalls and found it to be AMAZING !!! 

Admittedly, I could not see the projections on the stage floor - e.g. the river/whirlpool - but I could see the characters' faces and all of the action, better than ever before (usually sit in Dress Circle).

I would advise to see the film before the musical...just to get an understanding of the storyline. Its hard to follow first time round but as Monkey says "you either love it or hate it"...I LOVE IT!!!!

The scenery is fantastic and the slightly different type of music makes a change without spoiling the quality. Well done I say!!! 

Happy theatre going. 
Liza and Stuart  
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Last week saw my second trip to see "Les Mis" having been obsessed with it for years before seeing it, and I was amazed. The show has been rejuvenated; while the music has remained the same, little touches to the action have changed the meanings of some of the lines, making many scenes much more poignant. I for one think that the move has done the show good - things have had to change, but the changes are definitely for the better.

The actors - Joanna Ampil makes a fantastic Fantine, and, though I don't know which of the young actors it was, the Gavroche at the performance I saw was endearing. The cast all seemed so relaxed in their roles and that helped the story to flow believably from heartache to heartache.

We occupied the last two seats of row M in the stalls, and our view was uninhibited - even of the set on each of the boxes. There was plenty of legroom, and, unlike seats closer to the stage, we could also see all the effects on the floor of the stage (such as the 'river' during "Javert's Soliloquy"). The only complaint I have is that the theatre should provide tissues with each programme purchased!

Kyrsty Mewett
Bognor 
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I saw my first West End production of 'Les Mis' last night (17th November 2004), and have to say that I came away vaguely disappointed.

The music is fine- yes, there are synthesizers used, but except for a couple of points where the music cut off, rather than dying away they did not detract from the music. The singing was good throughout particularly from Tim Godwin, as Jean Valjean (the understudy). He has an amazing voice. However, there didn't seem to be much life in the show... technically great performances... but without the feeling.

The exception to this being Stephen Tate and Katy Secombe as the Thenardiers, who threw everything they had into the roles. 'Master of the House' has always been one of my favourite songs in this musical, and the performance was something I'll remember for a long time!

If you're only going to see one musical this year, I cannot recommend this one. Get the CD instead... There are better shows out there at the moment. If you've already seen a number of shows though, it's well worth going... just make use of the Monkey's 'Special Offers' section  to avoid disappointment.

Nathan
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My partner and I were actually trying to get tickets for "The Woman In White", but had no joy, so managed to get tickets for "Les Mis" at very short notice.

Overall, I think the show was very good, everyone gave it their all, which was great considering it was a Tuesday night (1st February 2005).

I agree with the monkey that the story is a tad difficult to follow, it seemed to take ages to get going, so do read the synopsis prior to taking your seats.

The revolving stage is a clever idea, but I started to feel a bit giddy by the end!

Character-wise, we loved the Thernardiers, who were hysterical, total Chavs!!!!

The story all comes together in the end and you leave feeling uplifted.

We sat in the stalls, row S, seats 24 and 25, pretty near the back, but had a great view of all the action. This is not a big theatre by any stretch of the imagination, and even right at the back we could see well. There is quite a big overhang, but it doesn't seem to matter as there was no action at higher points of the stage anyway.

I've read on the theatremonkey site (readers' comments) that the lack of orchestra and magnitude of synthesizers is a flaw, but it sounded great, and the conductor was dancing round like a madman!!!...

...though how much of the score required conducting rather than pressing "play" remains a mystery!

Bravo, good night out!

Jamie Coniam, 
London
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Saw the show on the evening of 16th February 2005. With it being half-term week I didn't want to run the risk of not being able to get tickets, so opted to pay full price (£37) tickets in row D (17/18) of the Upper Circle.

Slightly disappointed by the view. Even though I could see everything (despite the best efforts of those in row A to obstruct the view by leaning over the balcony) it wasn't the best angle to watch the show from.

The performances were excellent though. Every song sung with passion. As the poster says "every night is a first night".

Despite the 3hr running time, it never dragged. My only disappointment was that it was not longer. I really did not want it to end.

This was my first time seeing the show, but it certainly won't be my last.

Tim Holloway
Norfolk
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I decided to see this show on a bit of a whim (after loving "Chicago" and "The Lion King"), as wasn't sure it would be my "cup-of-tea". Chose our seats with the help of Theatremonkey (E 18 and 19 of the Dress Circle).

The view was perfect and the show totally blew me away - all the main stars were outstanding (particularly the actors playing Valjean & Javert), the story was really interesting, the set was so inventive/evocative, & the music was hugely moving.

I blubbed like a fool through most of the 2nd act. "Bring Him Home" completely slayed me. 

I've since become a huge fan (a bit late!!) and have bought the 10th anniversary DVD and the symphonic album, and was desperate to see it live again.

Will be back for the matinee on 16th July 2005, in Dress Circle G 9 and 10 (again thanks to Theatremonkey's reccs) and can't wait....... 

.......Just got back from my second trip to Les Mis (16th July 2005 matinee). Was not disappointed - that was the quickest 3 hours of my life !!

Perfect seats - Dress Circle G 9 and 10 (thanks, once again, Theatremonkey).

John Owen-Jones was STUNNING as Valjean - that has to be the most moving "Bring Him Home" I've encountered to date (either live or recorded), and yes, I did cry like an idiot again - as did most of the ladies AND some of the chaps around me!

Special mentions too, to Kerry Ellis - a beautiful Fantine, Barry James and Claire Moore as the Thenardiers (Barry was particularly good - as he brought out the character's more menacing side, as well as the obvious comic one).

Only downsides - Julia Moller (Cosette)'s voice was occasionally weak, and she was swamped in places in the ensemble pieces, plus I'm afraid Cornell John was not convincing at all as Javert - not enough passion / a very clipped style of singing.

However, everyone /everything else was SO good, and there was an almost-total standing ovation at the end.

Want to go and see it again NOW !!!

Cathy from Worthing
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Well this was my first venture into the Queens Theatre to see "Les Miserables" and I can safely say that this is one of the best shows in the West End for a long time.

I went on the 14th June 2005 and was sitting in the stalls in seat G3, theatremonkey advises against this seat, though as a student I managed to secure it for the bargain price of £20 (editor's note, monkey ratings are based on paying full price, as this reader acknowledges). For what I paid it was an excellent seat. Good leg room and an excellent view of the stage.

The performance by the actors was worth of first night acclaim, notably Sean Kingsley as Jean Valjean and Ramin Karimloo as Enjolras. Though a point which maybe worth noting is that the cast changes on the 27th June 2005. Though i am sure that the quality of performance will be maintained.

James T
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We went to see the show (for the 5th time) on 27th June 2005, specifically to see John Owen-Jones perform, although I was interested to see how the other cast changes worked. The show was fantastic - J O-J was incredible - he almost got a standing ovation at the end of 'Bring him home'! Special mention too for Kerry Ellis (Fantine) whose range was amazing. 

The whole cast gave it their all - very refreshing - as I felt the last time I saw it (towards the end of last year ) the cast were getting a bit bored. A few lines have changed, but nothing that detracts from the story. To an earlier reviewer, Nathan (see "reviews" page) - go and see it again - you won't be disappointed !

We had seats K11 to 13 in the stalls. Good view of the stage, couldn't see the whirlpool clearly, but I'm not too bothered about that. The legroom was surprisingly good. 

Ali 
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Sat stalls row E seats 19 and 20, amazing show, we sat slightly too far forward for my liking, the stage is quite high for this show and the view would have been more comfortable from further back. However as these tickets were booked at £25 (expired offer - ed) each rather than nearly £50 (thanks theatremonkey!) I can't complain!

Tamara
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I went again last night (11th July 2005) to see "Les Mis" (my 5th time!!!) and it just gets better every time! I love the way that each time you go, the casting completely changes but no matter what they do - it seems to work! Kerry Ellis absolutely blew me away last night, I was in floods already in the first half and it was downhill from there! Had to go and get a stiff drink afterwards. John Owen Jones was also incredible, the best Jean Valjean I've seen in the show. I was concerned at first as he was quite young in comparison to previous actors but he left them in the shadows.

Just incredible...you'd think after 5 times I'd be getting bored - my mum thinks I'm crazy and still won't see it for the first time! - but I think it improves each time and this one was a cracker. Amazing cast, amazing show. Only criticism was for Cosette, in comparison she was very weak and I found her punctuation of words very off putting. Otherwise though, nothing bad to say and as they could see from the standing ovation at the end...I think everyone else agreed!

Shame about the smaller theatre but it still works...long may it continue!!

Emma
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I saw this show some time back so the cast has probably changed. It was very clever and very professionally done however for me it was too heavy going. You will need to enjoy a bit of opera type music to enjoy this one. It is not everyone's cup of tea. It would be unfair for me to say I didn't enjoy it because how can one say which is best - a cup of tea or a cup of coffee? It depends on what you like personally. I wouldn't go again but that is because of the opera type singing  - I prefer something more light hearted - but for professionalism and getting it across it can't be faulted.

Ms Christina Brooks
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(This review contains no 'spoliers')

I saw this production at Queens Theatre, London.

pThis play will have you sucked in as soon as the orchestra strike up their instruments at the opening of the show, until they take their final bows at the end!

I sat on the second row (row B) in the stalls. The view was fantastic and you really felt like you were in there with all the action. The set and effects of the show are simply fantastic and the whole set and stage literally revolves - with no scene change hindering the performance. One minute we are sat in front of a barricade, the next minute we are in a wedding hall. The lead Jean Valjean was played by my favourite actor - John Owen Jones - who was the longest running West End Phantom (in "Phantom Of The Opera") with over 1400 shows. He is the youngest person to play Valjean but by no means the worst! Javert was also played with immense characterisation which, when the two collided, produced an incredible atmosphere.

This production is definately worth seeing and is very good for if you are studying GCSEs or A Levels (British examinations). The only real problem I found was you eventually get cramp from sitting throughout the 1.5 hour halves, but this should not stop anyone!

Best scene: Probably just before the interval - very powerful

Worth seeing: YES! (row B is worth the money)

Stuart Spendlow
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I attended the performance last night, (4th January 2006) ... Have you ever wondered what would happen if the revolving stage breaks down ...well, last night it did, only for the second time apparently. This occurred quite early on in the show. The staff tried valiantly to make a repair, but then the manager said the show could not continue with the staging - they did, however, put in on in 'concert' form (for those who stayed).

I must say I was very impressed !! All the performers adapted superbly ! I assume they occasionally rehearse this, but it still must be unsettling. It also makes the plot harder to follow for those that have not seen it before, but for us, it was quite a nice change ! Gavroche was played by one of the female cast members, presumably due to children's working hours !

John Owen-Jones was excellent as usual. The last time I saw the show, at the last cast change in July 2005, I felt that Cornell John, playing Javert, seemed very uncomfortable, possibly as he was having to sing in a different way to how he was used to . I must say that he has grown in to the role beautifully .... his voice, especially in 'Stars', was very smooth and sure - vocal honey !

Nice to see the supporting cast closer to the front. They sometime get a bit lost in the scenery! Special mention for Jenna Boyd, playing various roles - great voice, and some lovely facial expressions !

Seats - stalls K 6 to 9 ... we often seem to get row K - good view of the stage and performers, and any visibility problems were, on this occasion, negated by the concert format ! The theatre have also invited the audience back to see (hopefully) a full performance (on dates to be arranged) at equivalent rates - quite thoughtful, I feel.

Ali

(it was a very unusual performance - so many changes .. glad we didn't leave, unlike quite a few !!)
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I'm a complete Les Misérables addict who has long ago fallen in love with the story, the music, the lyrics and the staging. I can't get enough of Les Mis. My wife and I come across the pond a few times a year for a London theater run and we always make it a point to see Les Mis at least once every year.

That said, I must admit that since the move from the Palace Theater to Queens, Les Mis has fallen on hard times. The smaller stage creates lots of tight moments when the full ensemble cast is on stage; some scene transitions are often noisy and distracting; and I swear that the sound system drops some of the voices - at least from where we sit in stalls. But MOST noticeable has been the heavy reliance upon a synthesized musical score which does not do justice to the breadth and pulse of the music. When we last visit in March 2005 for a Saturday night performance, all of these problems are painfully evident and even the audience response is restrained. We leave feeling unfulfilled and fearful that Les Mis is slowly sinking towards oblivion -- this despite very strong performances by the leads.

So imagine our joy and delight during a January 2006 visit to discover that others must also have been hearing and seeing the same things that we observe. The changes are subtle, but by performance's end, it is clear that Les Mis is back to it's former glory and driving power. Staging has been reworked to reduce the clutter and allow the actors to move a bit more freely on a still tight stage. A few introductory lyrics have been added here and there to create smoother segues between certain scenes, AND they've revitalized the musical score, bringing back the orchestral feel. The result is a Les Mis that pulsates and embraces the audience with the feel and seething, bubbling emotion that Les Mis is so well known for.

The cast has turned over a bit since we've last seen Les Mis, but the main characters give mostly strong, stirring performances which touch the audience deeply ( Valjean, Fantine, Eponine, and Enjolras are all especially strong while the new Javert is still feeling his way into the part but he should do just fine with time) . The audience responds with applause and excitement throughout the entire Friday night performance. We leave feeling fulfilled and reassured in knowing that Les Mis is on the mend and should keep going strong for many more years. We hope that lots of folks take advantage

Barry and Carol Liimakka
USA
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Went for my return visit on 31st January 2006 - this time in Row G 10 to 13 of the Dress Circle - seats had a good view, obstructed only by the very tall man in front! I see from a previous comment that one reader feel the sound quality was poor in that area, but we didn't find this the case. There were several empty seats, and some people had been upgraded to the Dress Circle, presumably from the Upper Circle. I am a little concerned that the show may go the way of Cats, Joseph, and many others when the audience numbers start to fall.

The show itself - fantastic as usual (and the revolve worked !) Does John Owen Jones ever have a bad day ? Jeff Nicholson was understudying Javert - great performance. You never feel with this show that the understudies are a 'second best' - they are well worth seeing in their own right. I missed Jenna Boyd in the ensemble, though ,,, I believe there is a cast change planned for June - hopefully I will be able to get back before them for another Les Mis 'fix'

Ali
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Last Saturday (18th of June 2006) my girlfriend and myself went to see "Les Mis" at the Queens Theatre. Unfortunately as it was a last minute ticket buying and being impoverished students I broke with tradition and had to settle for the upper circle seating. The view wasn't that bad really, the only bit of action that was missing was the balcony in the Cafe, or at least that's all I think we missed. The chairs in the Upper Circle could do with a bit of oil as people were squeaking though all of the solos which is very irritating and I'd wish they'd install rollercoaster style bars in front of the chairs to stop people leaning forward and spoiling everyone's view as well as to stop people walking out without a simple excuse me...

After becoming addicted to the recording of the "20th Anniversary Special" at the Royal Albert Hall we weren't expecting the singing to be of quite the same quality, however we were pleasantly surprised. The cast was excellent especially with Phill Cavin as Jean Valjean; even the orchestra was acceptable, with its new electronic players, pulling you in with the first chords. Shaun Escoffery as Enjolras also demonstrated high quality singing, even though his voice was lost occasionally. However I was deeply deeply disappointed with the Javert, Cornell John.

His performance was dire, the only time I've never clapped for a performer, and thanks to him the rest of the cast lost their deserved standing ovation. Looking and listening around the auditorium a lot of people agreed. He didn't seem to appreciate the role and interact with the other characters, singing only it seemed to the audience, singing in the same flat tone no matter what his mood and when it came to the soliloquy I've never wanted a Javert to die sooner, he displayed very little of his soul and mind being torn apart.

It may sound a little stupid but a recording I did of a friend singing "Stars" three years ago was is in my opinion better than the pathetic Cornell did it, even though my friend has had no proper singing training - and I can also reassure you that my friend is a lot better now. You could question that Cornell John was having a 'off night' (well afternoon) but that's no way for a professional to treat a paying audience.

Overall it was enjoyable but I cant wait to go and see it again from a better vantage point and with a different cast, or a different Javert at least, as the rest were excellent.

Glad I've gotten that off my chest and apologies to the complete strangers I've bored with my rantings.

Laurence
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Having seen this show in 2002 after spending several years waiting to see it, I became a bit of a "Les Miz" addict. Having seen it twice at The Palace, where the toilets left lots to be desired and the leg room was cramped, even for me at 5ft 8" I was pleased when I heard it was leaving to go to Queens. My daughter and I took my parents along to Queens, as my dad had loved the musical score for years. We sat in the rear stalls and were very disappointed because we could not see the projections properly, it cut off the top of the barricade and the sound quality did not seem to match the wow factor it had had at the Palace. I won't mention the 'sing a long' Americans we had behind us, who I had to speak to an usher about in the interval!

Determined to give my fave musical another chance, I promised myself tickets in the front stalls. I was delighted when I saw the recent TFL offer (until September 2006) for £25 tickets and booked my daughter and I into seats C4 and 5 of the Stalls on the 23rd August 2006 - matinee. Although they were end of row we still felt like we were in the action and took in the full impact of what was going on on stage and the power of the music.

In the interval I got talking to a woman who was seated at the rear of the circle and she had brought her son along. She had seen it years ago when it was at the Barbican and then again at the Palace and told me she didn't feel the acoustics and impact was fantastic as it had previously been.

Simon Bailey playing Enjolras was great and John Owen-Jones as Jean Valjean blew our minds.

To sum up, Les Miz still is one of the most amazing musicals I have ever seen. The cast were fantastic and we were so absorbed in it all I found a tear trickling down my cheek during 'Little Fall of Rain' and the finale 'death scene'-as I like to call it! Les Miz has something in it for everyone. If it is your first time, make sure you get great seats - front stalls are the way to go, no closer than C though as the stage is high. Read the programme if you are unsure of the storyline, it will help you untangle the events. Let yourself get carried away in a story that will capture your heart and your imagination. Remember the Kleenex too, I wasn't the only one shedding a tear-6ft rugby looking guy in front was obviously touched as well.

Jessica and Niamh (27 and 10 London)
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My wife and I having been to the show before, thought we would take two of our children (12 and 14) to see Les Mis. We had seats K10 to K13 in stalls (Oyster card promotion). Seats were ideal, great view, good leg room. Kids thought it was fantastic, we all ended up in tears, a truly wonderful show, and the seats positions come recommended.

P.S. If you treat yourself to an ice cream at the interval, watch out for the stubborn strawberries in the tub, mine didn’t want to come out easily with the stubby spoon, a little extra effort made it fly out and stick to the woman next to me. I’ll be honest, I couldn’t tell her for laughing.

Andy, Claire and family.
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“After my recent disappointment with ‘Wicked’ and the less than ecstatic reception I gave to ‘Daddy Cool’ I am pleased to report that the performance of ‘Les Misérables’ I attended at the Queen’s Theatre last night (Tuesday 26 September 2006) was about as good as musical theatre ever gets. It was my third viewing (once at the Palace well into the run, and once at the Queen’s Theatre soon after it transferred) and I certainly got a lot more out of it this time. I was gripped from the start (maybe because I was familiar with the story from the previous viewings) and it wasn’t long before I could feel the tears beginning to spring.

At the Palace, despite sitting close in the stalls, I found the sound muddy and unpleasant, but last night, in C row of the stalls, the amplification was exemplary, being loud enough to be exciting but still remaining natural and perfectly balanced between the extremely clear voices and the orchestra. John Owen-Jones as Valjean was simply sensational, and Jeff Nicholson as Javert, covering for Hans Peter Janssens, was splendid. All the other performers were magnificent, and after a run of almost 21 years, the show is in tip-top condition. Three cheers for Cameron Mackintosh, and of course all the rest of the production team, the writers and composer, and I suppose we had better thank Victor Hugo as well!”
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30th October 2006...

Hadn't seen this since the last cast change - I was very much looking forward to seeing Hans Peter Janssen as Javert. I think there may have been some changes in orchestration, nothing much, but it just sounded a bit different (couldn't say how it was different, not having a clue about music)... there also seemed to be some new interaction between cast members in the ensemble pieces.

The cast were excellent - John Own Jones was, as always, outstanding.

HPJ was fantastic as Javert - his interpretation appears to have emphasis on Javert's relentlessness, which makes his ultimate downfall even more of a contrast.

Bayla Whitten was on as Fantine - very very good, although I felt she missed some of the low notes in 'I dreamed a dream' ...Sabrina Aloueche was perfect as Eponine, looking exactly how I see the character - possibly the best Eponine I have seen so far. Gina Beck as Cosette was exactly how I see a sheltered young lady would act, and she has a lovely voice

Strong performance from Jon Lee as Marius - whilst singing 'Empty Chairs....' he gave the impression that he was about to burst into tears! Simon Bailey was great as Enjolras - strong singing and some nice (new) interplay with Grantaire.

The Thenardiers - well, a bit of a disappointment for me - Tracie Bennett started off a little weakly, but improved, but Chris Vincent was, IMO, a real let-down - he was very 'camp'... I have always felt that although the 'T's are there to provide some comic relief, he should have an underlying air of menace - he came over as menacing as a tulip!

The ensemble are, yet again, more than excellent - in fact, I often watch them rathert than the principles, just to see the way the interact.

Seats were D16 and 17 in the Dress Circle - excellent... and booked through a highlighted special offer £29.00 - thanks ! !

Ali
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My first impression of The Queen's was how small it was, must be one of the smallest theatres in the West End to stage a musical. I managed to get a half price ticket for seat 13 row D, first time I have been so near to the stage, and to be honest wouldn't have wanted to be any further forward. Leg room was very good.

The conductor was like a jack-in-the-box, also he was weaving around like a boxer. It must have been very off-putting being in the middle of the rows in front of me. Actually I was put off a bit by him, can't imagine what it must have been like for those in the front row. To be fair to him, his moving about shows that no matter how many times he has performed, he is still very much into the music and the occasion, though.

I was looking forward to seeing John Owen-Jones but an announcement saying the part of Jean Valjean will be played by, but I didn't catch his name. Maybe John Owen-Jones wanted to watch Wales play Australian at rugby! Anyway the understudy playing Valjean was excellent, wish I knew who he was. (Jacob Chapman - editor, with thanks to the Queen's Theatre!).

Hans Peter Janssens as Javert was captivating and even managed to make you feel sorry for him in his death scene. I first saw Les Miserables in 1999 but was in the gods, didn't think it was very good, but have since grown to love the music and was able to follow the story very well. Naturally there were the usual irritants in the audience, including one woman right behind me who five minutes before the interval got up and disturbed everyone. I bet she wanted to be first to the "ladies'", and on several occasions the man she was with was talking to her in an overly loud voice, at one stage I looked behind and went shhhh! Some people just don't know how to behave at a theatre.

Being close to the stage I was, for the first time, able to see clearly the actors' faces and could make out a lot of the words as well, also being so near you can smell the gunpowder and really do feel as if you are in the battle. In some songs there were two or three actors singing different words at the same time. There's probably a technical name for this but in any case it came across very well. I'm not one who is able to analyse in great detail, but I know what I like and I loved Les Misérables. It has lots of memorable songs and it knocks the uninspired, totally forgettable "Wicked" into the witches hat !

4th November 2006, afternoon performance.
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Saw 'Les Mis' again on Monday 4th December 2006. Was in stalls row F seat 18, off centre so bobbing conductor not really a factor. John Owen Jones was excellent, his rendition of "Bring him Home" was particularly memorable and is one of the few places in the performance where an audience can show their appreciation, and there was a lot. I wasn't sure if there would be a full house on a Monday, but the stalls were packed, and a spontaneous standing ovation when John OJ made his bow.
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This was the first stage musical my husband and I had been too, a joint present from our son, it was fantastic. We have seen the different programmes on the TV, but being in the theatre was so different. The singing, the story all came over so much better live. We are hooked, more live theatre shows as and when we can.

Pauline
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Went to 'Les Mis' at the Queens Theatre on14th March 2007. Got a ticket through "GILT" ("Get into London Theatre promotion - ended 17th March 2007) £25 - seat A25 Dress Circle.

Good show with very neat use of turntable and set dressing for scenes. Excellent View - lack of leg room. I'm "broad" and width wise was O.K. and seat comfortable, but at 5'11 leg room was cramped as you have the wall in front so can't even get your feet under as you might with seats in the stalls.

Ice Cream at £3 for a small approx 100ml tub!!! I did without.

Jon
North Yorkshire
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Saw 'Les Mis' last night (16 May 2007) for the first time since its move from the Palace Theatre.

We sat in the middle of Row R of the stalls after buying 'best available' tickets off Lastminute.com for £29.50 + £1 booking fee. Legroom was ample, view not the best - the dress circle overhang obscured some of the 'higher up' action, and we felt a bit distant from the stage. That said, good value for what we paid, would have been miffed if the tickets had been full price.

I have to confess at being slightly nonplussed at the actual performance; I have very fond memories of the numerous times I saw it at the Palace theatre. John Owen Jones was a solid Valjean, although wavered occasionally with some of the difficult notes. Javert was played by an understudy whose name I did not catch (he was very tall) - and again a decent performance, but nothing spectacular. Joanna Ampil & Gina Beck put in good performances as Fantine and Cosette - and I thought Sabrina Aloueche put in the best performance as Eponine that I have seen since Lea Salonga played the role - fabulous voice. Simon Bailey as Enjolras was also one of the better players of the role I have seen - he had a strong voice and did justice to 'Do You Hear The People Sing'.

John Lee is simply not right for the part of Marius - he sung his parts far too abruptly, and did not bring out the emotion expected from 'Empty Chairs'. The Thenardiers did not draw out the comic aspects as much I have seen in the past either (this may be because Mr Thenardier was understudied for that performance)

Also the ensemble seem to have gone really downhill since the Palace theatre production - weak singing voices, lack of slickness as a group, and terrible use of the microphone for the leader of the French army - they really need to pull their socks up!

In all it still remains a very enjoyable evening out, and no doubt will continue for many years to come (the auditorium was full, even on a Wednesday evening)
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Saw 'Les Mis' last weekend (7th July 2007), with the new cast and loved it!!
Haven't seen it for ten years, but its still as marvellous as ever. What a fabulous show, everyone was superb, didn't feel anyone let the side down - go and see it!!!
Kathryn,
Kidderminster.
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Got the middle seats in Row R through the TKTS booth for £27.50 + £2.50 booking fee. As others have mentioned, this does suffer from the overhang but there is literally only 10 seconds in the entire production when an actor is obscured. You shouldn't panic when you can't see the '1815' projection which starts the show and is projected so high you can't see it!

Whilst quite far back, the fact that Les Mis tends to use the entire stage (both horizontally and vertically) means that you can take in the full effect of the scenery even if the singers seen a little way off. No problem with legroom either.

Interestingly, when I booked at TKTS I could see on the screen that they had better unsold seats but that these were held back for potential full price sale. Its not the case that TKTS can get you the best seat that remains.
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Last night (9th August 2007) I took my girlfriend to see the show for the first time (I've now seen it over 10 times). Ticketmaster website offered Dress Circle F 5 and 6 but I wanted more central so called them up and got Dress Circle G12 and 13. These were probably the best seats I've ever had in either theatre for 'Les Mis.'
As the website says, the top of the stage is obscured from row H backwards, and so the Upper Circle bordered the stage perfectly at the top. The safety bar mentioned as an obstruction for rows A to F was not a problem as it only encroached onto the front 2 yards of the stage. We were able to see absolutely everything without so much as moving or straining. Legroom was ample - I'm 6'1" and my girlfriend is 5'10" and neither of us were uncomfortable at all.
The cast were very good - John Owen-Jones is the best Valjean I've seen in the West End, and the girl playing Eponine had an amazing voice. Enjolras was average, as were the Thenadiers and Marius's voice was not strong enough. However, I'm just nitpicking - it was magnificent; probably the best performance I've seen. This cast is better than the last one - I saw it at Christmas 2006 and was underwhelmed, but this one was awesome.
A good time to go and see it if you were planning to!

Ashley
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I always have mixed emotions when I see a show for the second time. I’m torn between the excitement of returning to something I’ve loved and then worry that it won’t be as good as the time before, or that my previous perception won’t allow me to see it with fresh eyes.

On Saturday 20th October 2007, I felt all of the above when I went to see the evening performance of 'Les Misérables' at the Queen’s theatre in Shaftsbury Avenue. It had been some 17 years since I had last seen the show. Walking past the Palace Theatre, currently adorned with banners for 'Spamalot,' with its impressive entrance on the junction with Charing Cross Road reminded me of the emotion I felt at the time.

On arrival at the Queen’s Theatre we were unlucky enough to have side seats in the Upper Circle. With such a restricted view the show was off to a bad start before it had even begun. I was conscious of the fact my husband had never seen the show before and I didn’t want our inability to see half of the performance to spoil this. We were in luck. Half the people on our row didn’t arrive so within ten minutes of the show opening we could see the full stage.

'Les Misérables' is one of those shows that can never disappoint its audience. But this time it wasn’t without fault. Understudies Jennifer Hepburn and Peter Saul took on the Fantine and Valjean roles. They did the characters justice, although Saul’s performance of “Bring Him Home”, did not bring me close to tears or even a prickly neck like it usually does. My husband said he felt it lacked emotion too.

Two of the actors could not be understood properly. Hans Peter Janssens as as Javert and Melanie LaBarrie as Madame Thenardier sounded muffled and, given the fact that everyone else sounded clear I cannot blame our position in the theatre. As the songs in 'Les Misérables' tell the story, some members of the audience around me were complaining they couldn’t understand what was going on and blamed the fact they couldn’t make out what Janssens and LeBarrie were saying.

Other than that, apart from a few notes off-key from Claire Marie-Hal and the three or four times props could be heard dropping in the darkest parts of the stage, 'Les Misérables' was as impressive as I remember it. The red flag during “Do you hear the people sing”, Javert’s suicide and the barricade scenes still had the magic that had enthralled me at the Palace.

However one actor’s performance stood out. We weren’t told which of the actors played the character of Gavroche on that evening but whoever it was got the best round of applause of the evening. He was cocky, clearly spoken, perfectly timed and tuneful.

Everyone’s entitled to an off day so although this time' Les Misérables' didn’t enthral me as much as I had expected, it wouldn’t stop me wanting to see it again. Who knows, next time it might be the best yet!

Melissa Roberts
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Saw 'Les Mis' Friday night, 12th November 2007. Seats B21 and B22 in the Dress Circle- though didn't pay full price. Was just as previously described on this site. We were just 3 seats in from the end of the row which curves. Not a problem as only a tiny bit of stage front left is obscured. However in row A below they lost bottom half of stage due to the wall in front, and consequently leant forward on the wall which didn't help our view. Luckily my friend had an empty seat in front of her. Determined not to have my night out ruined I asked the guy in front to sit back in his seat and to give him credit he did manage to sit back for most of the show. For this reason I wouldn't recommend the last four seats at either end of row B and would avoid anything but the middle 16 seats of row A. No point paying top price for the rest of the row when you will get a better view from the stalls. Seats comfortable enough given the length of the show and plenty of legroom (I am 5' 8").

As for the show, to my mind it was every bit as good as when I last saw it at the Palace. All the cast were superb but, for me, there were two stand out performances. Cassandra Compton was born to play Eponine - a beautiful, powerful voice and great acting. Highlight of the show was Stephen John Davis understudying Javert. He was amazing - superb singing and dramatic acting which was moving without going over the top. The three hours flew past and we are already planning how soon we can return.

Sharnie
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Last night (12th November 2007) I took two Italian visitors and one young Turk to see 'Les Misérables', sitting in the Dress Circle in F4 to 7. The seats were perfect for sight lines and comfort, but alas on this my fourth visit, we all found most of the first act very heavy going. The sound was very loud were we were sitting (louder and shriller than it seemed from the front of the stalls about a year ago) and it felt as if the entire thing was going like a speeded up movie.

I like to see energy and attack from the cast of a musical, but last night the revolving stage was relentlessly spinning, and every performer seemed intent on getting out their words as quickly as possible, with a result that my three non-English speakers were totally at a loss to understand what was going on, and even I was unable to catch many of the words. Of course it remains a magnificent show, and once things settled down a bit and the pace became less hectic we all enjoyed it a lot. A couple of the performances were less good than I have seen them before, and some were brilliant, but overall the whole cast was very strong - if only we could have got more out of the first half-hour or so!

Surely it is not necessary for the opening scenes to be played at such breakneck speed and at such a high volume: all the women were particularly ear-splitting in the 'Lovely Ladies' scene, but nobody was without fault in this respect. The audience, particularly those seeing it for the first time, deserves to be able to appreciate exactly who the principal characters are, especially Jean Valjean, Fantine and Javert, and we need to understand and take in their words in the early scenes.
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Just returned from my VIP 'Les Miz' experience (17th November 2007) and want to leave a review for the show.

This was the first time I have seen the full show, I had seen the 10th anniversary concert and loved the music. I had so looked forward to the show. I was not disappointed, the whole event was wonderful. Our seats were close to the front (B15 and 16) and offered a wonderful view. I was worried that we would be too close and would end up with sore necks, but no. These seats were wonderful, we saw all the facial expressions clearly and saw all the action clearly.

As for the show........ The cast seemed fresh and energetic, the leads, Val Jean and Javert were amazing and the supporting cast was magnificent. The stage and scenery were very good and the music was wonderful. I want to go back as soon as possible.

The VIP package I had booked just enhanced the whole event, drinking champagne in the interval and carrying the remainder (in plastic cups) into the stalls was amazing. It did seem somewhat ironic that we were watching a show about poverty whilst sipping champers!!! we did giggle a bit when returning to our seats! In fact my sister said "let them eat cake!". We behaved during the show though!! It was too good to miss!
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I last saw the West End production of 'Les Mis' in Oct 2006 (for the fourth time), and it was, altho' still great, seeming more than a little tired.

Was fortunate enough to catch Miz again on Broadway in March 2007 and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The production was a little rough / amateurish in places, but the enthusiasm of the cast more than made up, plus the privilege of seeing Lea Salonga (playing Fantine) and Jenny Galloway (the definitive Mme Thenadier IMHO). Drew Sarich as Grantaire and Norm Lewis as Javert were also standouts and I could only hope all these actors would be persuaded to come over / back for the West End production.

Arrived yesterday (12th January 2008) for the matinee (L13 in the stalls - absolutely perfect view, altho' sound a little muffled / distorted in places because of the overhang from the Royal Circle) to discover Drew Sarich was playing Jean Valjean.

The whole West End production seems to have been given a very welcome shot-in-the-arm. Lots of previously-chopped bits added back in and the atmosphere of the staging beefed up.

Drew was magnificent as Jean ValJean - his acting superb, singing amazing. His "Bring Him Home" was the best I have ever heard live. I sobbed! A bravura performance.

Understudy Jennifer Hepburn as Fantine was a revelation - the first time "Come to Me" has actually brought a lump to my throat.

Cassandra Compton as Eponine was perfect.

Chris Vincent as Thenadier and Gary Watson as Marius also excelled, altho' Chris was let down by Melanie La Barrie as Mme T. She was very weak and seemed to have no enthusiasm for / totally underplayed the role, until the wedding scene.

Also VERY disappointed with Hans Peter Janssens as Javert. He swallowed his words most of the time and the whole of the first half of both 'Stars' and 'Soliloquy' were lost. A work colleague I was with, who had never seen the show before, had to ask me in the interval (and again at the end) what he'd been going on about......

Please, Norm Lewis, come over (or, dear Philip Quast, come back) and show him how it's done!

These little gripes aside, the refreshed production and the performances of the whole, very strong, ensemble (special mentions for little Cosette and Gavroche - with many "ah's" from the audience, bless ) led to a thrilling / highly emotional afternoon. I was still tearful on the walk back to the tube afterwards.

I think it was actually the best overall performance of Miz I have had the pleasure of so far, but, of course, I will be back...

Matinee 23rd February 2008:

Seats R15 and 16 of the stalls offer a pretty good view with good leg room, although sound not great in places because of the extended circle overhang and no speakers under. The very top of the set was chopped off from view in the initial Paris scene but nothing missed after that.

The cast were all a little slow to get going this time around and it took a few numbers for the production to really get into gear.

Drew Sarich as Valjean was, once again, the stand-out performer, although even he was a little lack-lustre at the start.

Joanna Ampil as Fantine was, sadly, not a patch on her understudy Jennifer Hepburn from my previous visit.

Melanie La Barrie is still not right, IMHO, as Mme T. Think the problem is that previous actresses have played her as such a huge/almost pantomime-dame type character, and Melanie is trying to put her own, more subdued/sympathetic mark on the character - but to fight against 20-odd years of characterisation isn't working :-(

We had the understudy for Thenadier (sorry - didn't catch his name), and he wasn't too bad at all.

Hans Peter Janssens was markedly better as Javert, although still swallowed his words in places - but 'Soliloquy,' particularly, was very moving.

Cassandra Compton as Eponine was, once again, a standout, plus HUGE praise this time around for Marius and, particularly, Enroljas.

The company, as always, did a great job, and the still-obviously-renewed/vamped-up production is continuing to pay dividends. An almost-complete standing ovation by the end.

Cathy from Worthing
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This is an astonishing performance. Our seats were fantastic, although we couldn't find three seats together - we were sat in the stalls seats F17, 18 and 23. We were very happy about them, although I think we were a bit too close because we couldn't see the river in ''Valjean's Soliloquy.'' I was very impressed about the leg room, and therefore excited because the monkey had given them a green rating; seat 23 was great as well, I don't see why the monkey gave it a red rating.

Now, moving into the performance , we watched the 10th Anniversary DVD and it was great, therefore we had high expectations. We thought they needed a stronger voice, the rest was great. The theatre had a great combination on modern and gothic design which made it unique. So if you want my advice: don't watch the DVD.

Cristopher H.
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I took my 9 year old daughter to see 'Les Misérables' on Thursday 24th April 2008.

Regret to say we were quite disappointed. I thought that the lead Jean Valjean (don't know his name) was quite flat, and his voice lacked power, maybe he was having a bad day. Javert was brilliant, as were many of the other members of the cast. I think the lead should have the most powerful voice, and sadly, this was not the case.

I had seen the show 10 years ago, when Stig Rossen played as Jean Valjean, and for me, that performance set the benchmark against which I compare all other musicals.

We sat in the Dress Circle, seats E7 and E8, they were fine.
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I am a big fan of 'Les Miz.' I went to the show last Wednesday matinee (7th May 2008).
It was my fifth time I have seen the show - in Sydney (2 times), Singapore and London (Palace theatre). This time is in the Queens theatre.

The show still can move me, and it gets better, even than last time I saw in 2003 at the Palace.

Overall the cast are very young compared to my last 4 visits. That makes the show more energetic. Lot of changes in setting, song cutting / add some swing on the stage are for the good. Really love and still enjoy Les Miz.

Phongpan P.
Visitor from Thailand
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On leaving the Queen's Theatre last night (30th July 2008), I wondered when it became the case that an inability to sing, act, or convey any sense of emotion resulted in you getting the lead in a West End musical. Because that's exactly how Drew Sarich's Jean Valjean came across - clearly a student of the 'when you can't sing, shout' school of acting. Joining him was fellow shout-a-lot student Allyson Brown, whose Fantine was wooden as a board, with a singing voice flatter than Suffolk.

The majority of the other leads were mediocre at best - Jimmy Johnston and Jackie Marks as the Thenardiers, Jon Robyns at Marius, Leanne Dobinson as Cosette, and Nancy Sullivan as Eponine. Earl Carpenter's Javert was OK, with a commendable performance of 'Stars'.

The runaway star performance of the evening for me was David Thaxton's Enjolras, whose rendition of 'Red and Black' and 'Do you hear the people sing' had the goosebumps out in force.

But that aside, the whole production lacked any sense of passion, emotion or talent - the things that made me a die-hard 'Les Mis' fan in the past. I've seen the show around 20 times now, but until Sir Cameron sorts his casting out, I won't be going back in a hurry.

On seats - we sat in E1 to E3 of the dress circle, having purchased 'Best available' tickets from Lastminute.com, at £35 + £1 booking fee per ticket. Whilst this was reasonable value, I wouldn't buy these seats at full price. E1 in particular had a slightly restricted view, and you couldn't catch some of the action going on in the far right of the stage.
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I saw 'Les Mis' in London on the 16th August 2008. I saw Drew Sarich as Valjean and have to say I was horrified by his performance. He stuck out like a sore thumb and brought the quality of the whole performance down a great deal. This was due to one reason - the way he sang. I have read some reviews already and they have been saying how brilliant he was. Yes, the tone he produced was at times magnificent, but the way he sang his words made him stick out. While the entire cast where singing with English accents, on he would march and let rip - destroying the moment by singing with his awful American twang.

However, in saying this I must commend the rest of the cast. Javert was spectacular and his "Stars" was one of the best songs of the night. "Baby Maria" Leanne as Cossette was a joy to watch and, although her tuning slipped up in a few places, this was quickly rectified.

I would like to know if anyone else has seen Drew Sarich and thought the same. Or generally if they enjoyed the wonderful Thenardiers?!

Eoin
Belfast
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I went to see 'Les Misérables' on the 16th August 2008. I wasn't sure what to expect, having read the detailed overview of the story online, I thought I'd get thoroughly confused. And having not enjoyed plays set in the past, I thought I would be bored. Well guess what? I wasn't confused at all, but I was bored......for the first ten minutes, but after that I loved it and enjoyed every minute. It's a slow starter, but as soon as you get to the song 'Lovely Ladies' it starts to get much more West End standard entertainment. I now see why this show has lasted so long, it really is a great keeper. I hope it has many more years.

It's lovely to see Jon Robyns as Marius! Seeing as he's just come from the comedy 'Avenue Q' to something serious like this it shows he really is very talented. The good thing about this theatre is that even though we were in the upper circle, we didn't feel detached from the action because it feels like you are still very close and you can see every facial expression without binoculars. It's a heart warming piece and I love the way they skip through time gaps very subtly. The set is very well done and I didn't really know what to say. I just love it! It's better than 'Phantom of the Opera' that's all I'm going to say!

Sat in the Upper Circle in Row J seats 7 and 8. Perfect view, perfect price, very comfortable (I didn't have to fidget once). However the arm rests are quite small and as both people on either side of me used them, my arms had to hang and I got pins and needles in them! Maybe it's just me, but just in case you're prone to pins and needles, it's something to look out for.
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3rd January 2009, 2.30pm performance.

I won't review the actual content of 'Les Misérables' as that is covered many times over from numerous other sources. My review will concentrate on the actual visit to the theatre, the cast, the cost and the value.

I visited the Queens Theatre on Saturday 3rd January 2009 for the 14.30 Matinee performance of 'Les Misérables.' I purchased the tickets at 10pm the night before directly from the theatre website (Delfont Mackintosh). I specified that I wanted to sit in the Dress Circle and used the seating guide on this website to keep refreshing until some ‘good’ review seats came up.

I managed to get seats G20 and G21 in the Dress Circle priced at £56.50 – a good value price, especially consider just how last minute these tickets were purchased. These seats are in the ‘good’ zone as per the seating plan on this website and I would agree with that analysis. We could see the entire stage and all the associated special effects. Picking up the tickets was fast and simple from the box office alongside the theatre.

Prior to the performance I bought a souvenir brochure priced at £5.00 – excellent value for a larger than A4 thick bound, high quality brochure featuring pictures from the show. Its worth noting that the alternative was a programme priced at £3.50 – but this did not contain as many photographs and was more for the cast listing & advertising. I also visited the bar beforehand a standard size box of Malteasers cost £2.50 and a (very) small Coke cost £1 (I’d estimate it was about 150ml – half a normal can of coke).

As you can see, prices are ‘reasonable’ for a West End theatre.

The performance itself was very well received (anticipate about 5 minutes of applause for those whose hands ache after 1 minute), although I did find that some of the cast used the premise “If you can’t sing, shout”, as others have mentioned. The ‘front of house’ theatre staff were very friendly and approachable. Toilets on each level were very clean and tidy and well maintained.

I think the most I would pay for tickets to this show is £55, any more and you’re doing yourself out of a deal – also, it’s important to check the seats you’re allocated (before you buy them) as some parts of the auditorium did have restricted views.

Brian S,
Northampton
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26th February 2009, 19:30 performance.

Brilliant show! My eighth visit to to the life of Valjean, and I love every visit as if it were my first. Cameron Mackintosh is a genius:)

We got 'best available top price seats' from lastminute.com and I nearly fell over when I received them and discovered I was the centre of row A to the left of the gap where the Conductor is:)

Although you did have to look upwards a bit, having sat all around the theatre the front row was astounding. The only bad thing I could say about it was the amount of spit Javert sprayed all around the stage as he sung - it was at times a little off-putting. The cast are amazing at the moment, not the best I've seen, but they work well together. 'Les Mis' never fails to blow me away:) Loved it.

Louise Robinson,
Lancaster
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I went to see 'Les Misérables' for the first time on Thursday 23rd April 2009 (19.30 show) and have to say it lives up to the hype. While a bit slow to get going (as others have mentioned), I suppose the scene setting with Jean Valjean, his fellow prisoners and the Cardinal, etc. is essential to the plot and theme - but the action really gets going when the story moves to Jean Valjean's factory and thereafter.

As this was my first visit to 'Les Miz,' I can't compare to previous casts or shows, but it certainly did not disappoint. If I was to give a brief review of the main performers, David Shannon (Jean Valjean) and Earl Carpenter (Javert) were absolutely outstanding. Jon Robyns as Marius was good although I would say sounded a little "nasal" at times - I am by no means a musical expert so this is just a lay person's opinion.

I was slightly disappointed by Allyson Brown's rendition of 'I Dreamed a Dream' as Fantine - I don't know whether this was a result of the recent Susan Boyle/Britain's Got Talent effect, but I would say it was a little over-cooked - concentrating a bit too much on the dramatics rather than holding the tune. Her performance elsewhere was excellent elsewhere though. I am not suggesting at all that Susan Boyle is by any means comparable with the calibre of performer on the London stage, but I thought maybe Allyson Brown might be overly aware that the audience were probably awaiting that particular song with anticipation and made too much of it.

Nancy Sullivan was excellent as Eponine and Leanne Dobinson was a treat as Cosette - I understand from her biography in the programme that she was one of the unsuccessful Marias in BBC1's 'How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?' and, while I was not a regular viewer of that programme, I was very pleasantly surprised by the quality she showed on stage.

Finally, Jimmy Johnston and Jackie Marks were excellent as the Thénardiers - Jackie Marks particularly standing out for me as an amazing voice and fantastic comic turn.

Regarding seating, I paid full price for P7 in the Stalls and was a bit disappointed. The overhang of the Dress Circle did not detract at all, but unfortunately I had my view pretty severely blocked on the right hand side of the stage by the gentleman in front. He didn't appear to be a giant and by no means was sitting particularly bolt upright, but his head pretty much blocked the bottom right hand quarter of the stage - particularly pertinent in the Fantine death scene. I'm not particularly short at 5ft 6ins, and so can only conclude that the staggering of the seats is a bit off, as I've never really had this problem in other theatres before. I would certainly choose my seats more carefully next time, and there will be a next time as all in all I adored the show!

Nicky
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I went to see Les Misérables on the 10th and 11th June 2009, and the fact that I saw it two days in a row (and am thinking about seeing it a third time very soon) should already tell you that it's worth seeing...

On the first night I sat in the Stalls, G21, which is probably the best area to watch it. If you want to forget you're sitting in a theatre, these seats are definitely worth the price. On the second night, I purchased my ticket only four hours before the show started and chose to sit in A35, Dress Circle for £20, and let me just tell you that the seat is perfectly fine, I could even see more than the ones to my right on seats A29 to 34. Yes, you miss the first ten seconds of two entrances, but that really is all - and you still feel part of the show (maybe even more than on the more expensive seats on Dress Circle and definitely more than everyone on the Upper Circle).

Before I actually review the show, please be aware that I've been a Les Mis fan for ten years now, so my opinion might be slightly biased because of my experience with other productions.

The wonderful thing about this show is that you actually get the impression that everybody involved is trying extra hard and giving more than usually just for you. After seeing the show on two consecutive evenings, you can really see the beauty of that and appreciate their work a lot more - the jokes, the tense and emotional moments are never rushed, it really does still feel like a first night.

That being said - don't expect any kind of breaks to "come up for air"... there are no spoken parts, everything is part of the songs, of the music (which you don't really notice at first), and don't expect to applaud after every song like you do in most other musicals... I remember that there were only four times the audiences found the time to applaud during first act - it's not that they didn't want to, but there was simply no moment where a disruption would not have destroyed the atmosphere.

As for the actors, there are highs and lows, but you probably won't notice them if this is your first time - and even if you do, it doesn't affect the overall experience at all.
I had the opportunity to see both the regular Jean Valjean, David Shannon, and the understudy, Jonathan Williams, and I loved both performances - maybe Williams even a bit more, his Valjean is more peaceful, calmer, whereas Shannon underlines the struggle the protagonist is going through in the first third a lot more. You won't be disappointed by any, and vocally they were truly perfect. "Bring him home" was especially wonderful - up to seeing Williams on stage I had never quite gotten the beauty of that song, but his performance was truly eye-opening. Great acting by both, too, the transformation from the strong, youthful man of ~45 years in the beginning to the old, dying man is absolutely believable.

Simply outstanding and therefore rightly awarded with spontaneous applause (at the transition from "Red and Black" to "Do You Hear The People Sing"): David Thaxton as Enjolras, a role that is never quite given the recognition it deserves. Thankfully, after years and years, the West End finally has found an actor who can handle this very demanding part vocally and acting-wise (giving it more depth than most other performers do), who is memorable and believable as the noble, charismatic and strict revolutionary student leader. He basically "outsings" the unfortunately rather weak Jon Robyns as Marius and seems to be fully taken up with his role.

Another surprise is Nancy Sullivan as Eponine - bratty and tragic with an extraordinary voice and a very well performed death scene.

I really enjoyed Earl Carpenter on the first night, he was cold, calculating, severe and controlled, but on the second night his voice could not quite carry the tunes, he was a bit weak which is not that good considering Javert had to be such a strong character.
Leanne Dobinson as Cosette was fine, a bit to hasty with some of her lines but her voice was wonderful.

Allyson Brown as Fantine delivers a very raw performance. It works if you have read Hugo's novel and know the "book" Fantine, but there were some cringe-worthy moments in "I Dreamed A Dream" while Fantine's death was, overall, perfect.

The Thenardiers, as played by Jimmy Johnston and Jackie Marks were great, just the right amount of cunning, hilarious and evil, and the good thing is that even at the second viewing, the humorous elements didn't seem to be hackneyed, another indicator of the show's and actors' quality.

The rest of the ensemble is very strong, their performances are great and they give the many choral scenes just the right impact.

The orchestra is alright, for my taste the pace is a bit too quick, but you won't notice it if you're not familiar with some Les Mis recordings and you get used to it pretty fast. The stage design is absolutely breathtaking, very simple yet effective, you really get the impression of early 19th century France.

I have talked to quite a lot of "newcomers" and they were all in awe, blown away by the sheer intensity of the show. Needless to say I'm in love with the show - if you're going to see one show in the West End, then go and see Les Mis!

After enjoying the two performances on the 10th and 11th of June 2009, I managed to get one more ticket for the evening performance on Saturday, 13th June 2009 (which was completely sold out), seat H25 (good view, but as the monkey's diagram rightly indicates, not one of the best seats for that price. I was just lucky to get a ticket at all).

Before the show started, it was announced that Mark Dugdale, understudy for Enjolras, would perform instead of David Thaxton. Needless to say I was quite disappointed upon hearing this, because as you might have gathered from the first part of the review, Thaxton's Enjolras is clearly one of the highlights of the show.

So first things first - Mark Dugdale, who normally performs as Courfeyrac, did a good job with this vocally and physically quite challenging role, and still... having seen Thaxton twice made me really miss the power and charisma he brings to the stage. Then again, the fact that I found myself missing David Thaxton is in no way a criticism of Dugdale, who was still one of the strongest singers on stage that night, but just another testament to Thaxton's outstanding performance on the other nights - he elevates the material he is given.

Of course, the Saturday evening performance is the most exhausting for the cast, because they have the matinee on the same day and there are only two hours between the end of one show and the beginning of the next. Some voices - Earl Carpenter's, Jon Robyns's (who is great as the lovelorn Marius but doesn't quite manage to master "Empty chairs at empty tables") in particular - seemed a bit strained, but on the other hand I enjoyed Allison Brown's performance much more that night than on the 10th or 11th.

Now that I've seen David Shannon again I can say pretty safely that I liked Jonathan Williams's (understudy) performance as Valjean a lot more, but Shannon is still doing a great job, especially as the old man in the Finale. Nothing new about Leanne Dobinson or Jimmy Johnston and Jackie Marks, but once again I just loved Nancy Sullivan's Eponine, easily the strongest of the actors that night. She manages to create this tragic character without making her pathetic, and "On my own" was simply heartbreaking (best solo of the night).

The ensemble was great as always, even after three performances in four days, the choir still manages to send shivers down my spine, also thanks to the stage direction. "At the end of the day", "Look down", "Do you hear the people sing", "One day more" and the final "Will you join in our crusade" are still as effective and haunting as they were when I first heard them.

So, overall, the weakest performance of the three, but still better than any other show I've ever seen. And maybe it's just me nit-picking - the audience was enthusiastic, immediate standing ovation at the last notes.

And therefore I still stand by my first advice: Go and see the show. Now.
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I went to see 'Les Misérables' on the 24th July 2009. I had booked my seats through lastminute.com for £15 each, so I had no idea where I was sitting until I went to collect my tickets. I assumed, because of the low pricing, I could expect a seat up in the rafters - but this was not to be the case. On collection from the box office I discovered we had seats A2 and A3 in the Dress Circle. These seats are in red according to the plan, and deserve to be so, based on the view that you get. You cannot see much of the stage on the far side unless you lean over the bar which is what my friend and I did, along with the other people in our part of the row. The seats were quite comfortable, and for me personally were worth the £15 I paid for them (however, I am easily pleased lol).

I had a mostly new cast that has just started in the show a month before. David Shannon as Valjean was good at portraying a man very hard done to, and who was desperate for redemption. Earl Carpenter was equally as good as Javert, the policeman with strong resolution to capture Valjean and to put him away. I was impressed with the two of them and they are a good match for each other vocally.

Nancy Sullivan is great as a very bratty Eponine and she does well as the poor girl who is so blinded by love for Marius she would do anything for him. 'On My Own' brought a tear to my friend's eye. Alistair Brammer is the new Marius and vocally he is perfect. However his acting and his chemistry with Eponine could use a lot more work. 'A Little Fall Of Rain' looked very uncomfortable and he looked awkward when trying to hold Eponine close to him. He was however very good with the new Cosette, played by Katy Hall.

This girl is a sensation as Cosette. Having seen her once in 'Phantom of the Opera' when she was an understudy, it's hard to believe such a powerful voice could come out of such a young and gifted young lady. I actually liked her interpretation as Cosette which is a first, as the last time I saw it I found the character very annoying, whiny and I wanted to beat her over the head with a sledge hammer lol. But not this time, I was actually wishing there was more to see of Cosette.

Martin Ball and Lorraine Bruce were the new Thenardiers. Lorraine has a good grasp of her character and plays Madame Thenardier as wicked but funny. Martin Ball however just did not convince me as Thenardier at all, I missed the comedy from his lines and he wasn't even very scary or menacing, just a flop really. David Thaxton is a very convincing Enjolras and I liked his passion especially in 'Do You Hear the People Sing'.

Rebecca Searle as Fantine is good singing her songs but not the best I have seen. She puts a lot more emotion into them rather than singing so in 'I Dreamed a Dream' half the time it was quite beautiful, the rest of the time it sounded like a demented, desperate banshee in pain. Just my opinion of course, but I do prefer Jo Ampil as Fantine and she is literally just 10 paces away from 'Les Miz' in 'Avenue Q' (at the Gielgud theatre next door) lol. The ensemble work really hard as well to ensure the show is absolutely perfect and they fully deserved the standing ovation they got at the end. it really is one to see again and I know I will be making a return visit soon.

Kirsty
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I can't add anything about the afternoon show on 2nd December 2009, except that it was superb as always. Row L stalls give the perfect view and plenty of leg room.

If I was asked for my 'desert Island discs' my absolute first choice from any of the Musicals I have been to, it would have to be 'God on High' and yesterdays show did not disappoint. It still sends shivers down my spine every time I hear it.

It was the third time I have taken a group there making five coach loads altogether and no doubt given 2 or 3 years years more we will go again, and again!
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January 2010, Stalls L25. Got this seat on a last minute student standby. Cost £27.50. Was a very good seat. I thought at first I might have had some problems because it was the furthest seat to the side but I don't think I missed anything at all.

Show was on top form was only my second time seeing it and really loved this cast. I think if I'd been paying full price (which will never happen :P) I would want to maybe be a bit more central and maybe a little bit closer.
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Due to several scheduling conflicts and people not being able to go I have seen 'Les Misérables' twice recently (February 2010). The first time we sat in the upper circle in Row B18 and 19. The seats cost quite a lot of money for their position and the barrier in front completely cuts off the downstage right corner of the stage where an awful lot of the action happens. The barrier also makes the people in row AA lean forward which causes a domino effect for everyone behind.

Apparently they're not classed as restricted view seats because the producer feels they give a good clear view of the stage, which is not true at all. My view was further hampered by a very large man sitting in front of me who blocked most of the stage and spent all of the time leaning forward as the people in front of him were doing the same.

The second time our seats were in the dress circle Row D24 and 25. I was rather worried about these seats, as they were on the same side as the previous ones and I did not want to miss parts of the show again but they proved to be brilliant! There was no one sitting to our left which made everything a bit more roomy and the view itself was fantastic. The dress circle is always my place of choice to sit and we had got the tickets through an offer at Time Out so they were great value for money. I even had a very tall man sitting in front of me and I could still see everything.

We could see everything perfectly, which is a bonus for me as I am terribly short sighted but I felt very close to the action. So all in all they were very good seats.

I think the show is better since moving to the Queens Theatre as it feels more intimate than it did at the Palace.

Felicity.
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Just wanted to write and say how bloody wonderful I thought 'Les Mis' was on Saturday (20th March 2010) and to recommend the dress circle E20 and E21 as full price seats. We had a fantastic view and loads of legroom. Amazing.

Natalie x
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Tuesday 25th May 2010: We had seats D6 and D7 in the Dress Circle, which are marked as good ones on the theatremonkey map, and I can see why; stage view was great and I didn't miss anything. The show was very full.

Now, I had very high expectations for this show having read all the reviews, and frankly it surpassed all my expectations. The songs, dancing and set are fantastic. This show has plot depth but is not complicated as the theatremonkey says; I would find it hard to believe someone loses the plot with this one. Just absolutely great and I will definitely by returning. The standing ovation was deserved.

Diego.
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Friday 28th May 2010: Just wanted to recommend seats D13 and D14 of the Stalls at the Queens Theatre. I got the seats for £40 but would have paid full price for seats of this quality. The seats are central to the stage and as a result you don't miss any of the action.

The only thing I didn't like with these seats was that you were stuck in the middle of the row so it was a problem getting out of the row to get to the bar or the toilets in the interval, without having to ask at least half of the row to move out of their seats first. Lots of legroom in these seats!
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I went to a Wednesday matinee of 'Les Mis' a couple of weeks ago (May 2010). I booked tickets through Ticketmaster. There was a half price offer, so I got £32.50 tickets for £18 (including booking fee). I got seats G14 to 19 in the upper circle, but when we arrived to collect the tickets we had been upgraded to stalls N 17 to 22 (my old favourite, the 'upper circle trick' - and the main reason why I booked Wednesday afternoon tickets!). I thought these seats were really good, I can see from the plan that theatremonkey rates them red, but I disagree and think they should be white at worst. You don't miss anything because of the circle overhang as it lines up with the top of the stage - it certainly does not cut off the top of the set. These seats feel close to the stage but is far enough away to appreciate the whole of the sets. A few rows back I imaging you would miss some stuff on the top of the barricade though. Leg room was fine.

I loved the show, I've seen it once before and enjoyed it just as much this time. It has a lot of really great songs, some of my favourites from any musical (and just a couple of annoying ones, I had 'Castle on a Cloud' going round in my head for a while afterwards). I think "One Day More" is worth the ticket price alone; I love it on the soundtrack, but on stage it is incredible.

The actors were good, although Marius seemed a bit of a wimp - I didn't really believe he would ever do any fighting; and I've always thought Cosette was a bit of a loser, I much prefer Eponine.
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I went to see 'Les Miz' on Wednesday 25th August 2010 matinee. And I have to say that, for a 25th Anniversary cast, Cameron Mackintosh probably has one of the strongest ensembles he's ever had. I will come to the principals shortly.

I had BB8 in the stalls. Like a previous viewer, I am very short at 5ft 2. Yes, there isn't a lot of legroom - but it did nothing to hamper my concentration and enjoyment of the show. I would recommend this seat or any on Row BB again, and in fact have booked a further 2 times in this seat. The only teeny tiny little gripe (which actually isn't worth mentioning) is that on the front of the stage there are small wooden blocks that sometimes stopped me from seeing any actors faces when they hit the deck, ha ha!

Now to the actual show. The set is very impressive and never fails to amaze me with the revolve and the barricades. I have seen the tour version as well as the London version and, although I do like both just as much, in terms of staging London wins hands down.

Like I said, the ensemble is the strongest I've ever seen for any show this year (bar the new ensemble for Wicked). They put so much effort into their characters, no matter how small the role. Stand-outs for me were Chloe Hart as the Factory Girl and Jay Bryce as Lesgles. I couldn't keep my eyes off these two in the big numbers.

I had an understudy for Valjean, Jonathan Williams. At first I was a little disappointed, but he had won me over by the end of the 'Soliloquy.' He puts so much passion and emotion in to his acting and singing, and his chemistry with Norm Lewis is fantastic.

Speaking of Norm Lewis, what a treat! he is going to be fab in the concert. Sometimes I found him a little wooden, like he was just singing the songs rather than acting in the show, but his 'Stars' was very impressive and he did look very intimidating over Jonathan.

Lucie Jones as Cosette is a little too 'pop' for my liking, and although adequate, is not the strongest I've seen in the role. Sam Barks as Eponine can also hit the notes in her numbers when needed - but I found her to be a little bland at times, I just didn't feel her unrequited love for Marius. I think she could get better as her run progresses and she develops more into the role. Alistair Brammer is very good as Marius, I liked him a lot, especially when he meets Cosette in her garden. He acts they shy young lad very well, and it got a few 'ahhhs' from the women sitting behind me.

Both Martin Ball and Lorraine Bruce are a very strong Thenardier couple and have great comedic timing, they work so well together. Rebecca Seale as Fantine also impresses, and her version of 'I Dreamed A Dream' certainly won over some people still under the 'Susan Boyle' effect.

All in all it was a fantastic show. I will be returning later in the year, and hope I enjoy it as much then as I did on Wednesday. Long Live 'Les Miz!!!'

Kirsty
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What a show. This is a classic that lives up to it's hype. I have waited years to see the show - I don't know why I waited so long, I enjoyed every second!

Take a bleak grey and black stage, add great classic songs and a splash of colour, and you have a hit. I loved how the stage adapted through the show. It takes a good set designer to turn shades of black and grey into a set that is interesting, and the multi function of the gantry and barricade was excellent.

The singing was superb, and I found myself caught up and humming along, laughing and crying in equal measure (not something I'm prone to, but I got caught up in a couple of moments at the end and yes, my eyes were wet)...

It was a full house and the seats (dress circle row L seats 7 and 8), were not a bad view but not great. I couldn't see the first line of the words on the back drop, and when people stood on the top of the gantry I could only see legs. Even Gavroche, the boy, had his head missing.

Would I see it again? Absolutely 100% yes - but only if I had better seats. It would be worth waiting to get the seats of your choice, and it is a sell out show - so wait I will.

Mrs J Hockley
Romford
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Many years after seeing 'Les Mis' I finally got to go back and see it again in December 2010.

I have to say that I was disappointed with the cast performances. Fantine, Marius, Cosette and a few others were poor, unable to hit the notes and project their voice. Javert is an interesting choice, and I'm all for more diversity in the theatre, and he does have a crisp clear voice. Jean Valjean was played by the understudy, who took a while to warm up, and was OK but not great.

I think that the music and songs carry the show and, as someone who is a big fan, you can still enjoy it. Perhaps because I know the music and songs so well I was more critical whereas if it was my first time perhaps I would be raving.

We managed to get seats in row M of the stalls, 7 to 9, only as seats were being re-released online. Good for us but not for others. I enjoyed being able to see faces and was happy with the seats. I think anywhere in the stalls would be OK as there are not any beams to obstruct your view.

Nadia
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13th January 2011. What a show. Having seen the show a couple of times before and not completely understanding it, I am slowly coming to terms with the storyline. This cast are amazing and the big numbers really have stuck in my head from seeing it. There are so many songs that are done really well. Lucy Jones was off the night I went. 'One Day More' and Norm Lewis singing 'Stars' where probably my highlights, although I am a fan of Samantha Barks.

I was sitting in Stalls seat K13 which was a brilliant seat and offered a clear view of the action, you can see all the facial expressions of the actors. This seat is comfy and leg room was very good! My one gripe and its a small one is because this is a central seat, the conductor was in my eyeline and he was moving all over the place! Quite distracting! However for the access rate of £20 it was a brilliant show and an excellent seat.

At the interval I looked to see what the £15 seats where like and I definitely think for me for this show there is no comparison - pay the extra £5 to get a top price seat!
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Having seen 'Les Misérables' many times, it with some trepidation that I accepted tickets marked as "red" on Monkey! Theatremonkey has become my Bible for bagging myself super seats...and has never let me down! This time however, Stalls seats K24 and K25 are marked as red, but in my view (no pun intended!) the seats were excellent!! I have sat in most areas in the stalls and would happily sit in these again! The view was unrestricted if VERY slightly side on (seeing as these seats are the very end of the row not as side on as you would expect due to the small theatre). We had 3 VERY tall girls in front of us and still could see perfectly and there was adequate legroom.

Samantha Barks is an outstanding performer, and I am so glad that I got to see Killian Donnelly again in the role of Enjolres before his departure in June 2011.

Now.......to book again to see Alfie Boe and Matt Lucas...that is the question

Sarah Louise
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Went to the Saturday Matinee of 'Les Mis' on 30th July 2011 with my wife and eldest daughter (11). Paid full price for seats 14,15 and 16 in row G of the Dress Circle. Great seats, plenty of legroom and a central, uninterrupted view of the action. Wouldn't have wanted to be any further back, though, as the overhanging upper circle cuts off the top of the stage after row H. Daughter said she couldn't see the performers' legs from her seat - but not too much of a problem as not a single one of them sang through their legs.

The show was utterly brilliant. Alfie Boe ( Valjean ) was surely chosen by God to sing this part and Matt Lucas (Thenardier) was superb. The rest of the cast were faultless. I saw this a few times at the Palace over the years and I've also seen touring productions and two school productions but I've never seen it as good as this. My daughter pronounced it 'AWESOME' which is high praise indeed from a monosyllabic pre-teen!

One moan (there usually is), the toilet facilities at this theatre are abysmal. The queue for the 'ladies' in the dress circle was ludicrously long. My wife and daughter joined it at 2 o'clock and got to their seats at 2.25. I gave up queuing for the gents after about 20 minutes, but did manage to get in three hours later after the show !
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I was at the Wednesday evening performance on 24th August 2011. Sadly, Alfie Boe was not performing due to illness, but the alternate Jean Valjean, Jonathan Williams, was excellent. Obviously the audience, me included, was bitterly disappointed that Alfie wasn’t performing, but by the end of the evening, Jonathan had won us all over and he received cheers and a standing ovation at the end.

Matt Lucas gave his own unique interpretation of Thenardier! He was very funny, often improvising, and he can even sing! There were no other understudies that evening and the whole of the new cast gave a superb show. It seemed like a first night, so enthusiastic was the cast!

Our seats B22 and 23 in the Dress Circle were excellent. We had a clear view of the stage as the people in front of us in row A didn’t need to lean forward (or were just being courteous!) and leg room was pretty good too for a Circle seat. You perhaps miss a fraction of the action on the extreme left hand side of the stage but it was certainly nothing to worry about.
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September 2011. I have finally been to see 'Les Mis.' It only took me 26 years to get around to it, but I got there.

We sat in V22 and 23, right at the very back of the stalls. A better view than I expected; you can’t see the top of the stage, but apart from the stuff on the barricade you don’t miss too much, and you are not having to keep moving to let people in and out. I am a dedicated box user, and this private little row was alright by me.

Now I have to say that I am not a fan of the ‘serious’ type of musical, I like my musical entertainment to be quite light hearted, and I can’t abide this singing the entire score malarkey. So having got that out of the way.

Gosh!! Isn’t it good.

I thoroughly enjoyed every minute, it was much better than I expected. The story is gripping and full of powerful emotion. I understand what all the fuss is about, and I am sorry that I have waited so long. I feel that I am extremely privileged to have seen Alfie Boe play Jean Valjean, it was almost as if the part was created for him, he was just perfect. The rest of the cast left nothing at all to be desired, note perfect all the way through. Matt Lucas was a bit of a surprise too. I am a fan, but did not expect him to be quite so good, the part is ideal for him, but you don’t expect the class clown to fit so well into a production like this.

I stand corrected, I was wrong, sometimes the hype is correct.
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I have seen 'Les Misérables' many times and can never wait to go again! Alfie Boe is vocally faultless as Jean Valjean and Hadley Fraser as Javert just gets better and better. One surprise for me this time was during a couple of matinee performances when the show's director, Chris Key, played the role of Jean Valjean (due to Jonathon Williams being unwell) - Chris was truly superb! Whilst not so strong vocally on the high notes as Alfie Boe, his acting was out of this world, and he does have a beautiful melodic voice. I loved his rendition of "Bring Him Home".

Craig Mather and Lisa Anne-Wood are perfect as Marius and Cosette, both giving very strong performances. I also saw Fra Fee in the role of Marius. He has a good voice, but I felt Craig and Lisa-Anne emitted more chemistry between them and make a beautiful couple, exactly as Marius and Cosette are meant to be. Enjolras is one of my favourite characters - the song "Red and Black" never failing to bring shivers, along with all the scenes at the barricade - and the gorgeous Liam Tamne excels in the role with his strong acting and wonderful voice. I enjoyed seeing Matt Lucas as Thénardier back in August but this time it was Cameron Blakely in the role. Cameron was flawless and gave one of the best portrayals of the rogue that I have ever seen. Along with the wonderful Katy Secombe as Madame Thénardier, the couple never failed to raise laughs from the audience at all the right moments! Alexia Khadime (Eponine) and Caroline Sheen (Fantine) also did a pretty fine job and a special mention has to go to Adam Linstead who plays Grantier to absolute perfection, (Adam also appears as the Bishop of Digne). In fact, all cast members give strong performances, the orchestra is constantly outstanding, the powerful score fills you with endless emotion and the entire show has never once disappointed me.

Sitting on row B of the stalls at a couple of performances was a thrill too - I could see all the facial expressions and felt I was really a part of the action! I hope to be able to see the wonderful Ramin Karimloo as Jean Valjean - a part in all honesty that I would never have imagined him doing. Good luck for the future to Ramin and to all the cast and crew, past and present, of Les Mis!

Fiona in Florence
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I saw 'Les Misérables' the third week of November 2011, at the end of Alfie Boe's run as Valjean. I've seen 'Les Mis' a number of times, and picked this time specifically to see Alfie Boe in the role. I'd been so impressed with his work as Valjean in the 25th anniversary concert at the O2 (which I've only seen on DVD...not lucky enough to be there), I wanted to see him live. So, I had high expectations---which made me a little nervous!

I shouldn't have worried: the evening was everything I thought it would be, and more. First, I think it's impossible to use enough superlatives to describe Alfie's performance. As another reviewer said, it's as if the part of Valjean was written specifically for Alfie. (And I've seen several Valjeans over the years I thought were outstanding, notably John Owen-Jones in the 25th anniversary production at the Barbican.) However, since Alfie's run is now over, I want to applaud the overall quality of the entire cast. I've seen productions over the years in which I thought one or more of the "lead" parts were weak - not here! The entire cast seemed a notch above other casts. I want to specifically note that Hadley Fraser is amazing as Javert -simply stunning vocals, with a huge presence on stage. He will be playing Javert until at least June 2012, I believe, so go see him! I was also impressed by the performance of Craig Mather as Marius: this is his West End debut, and I thought he was terrific. Adam Linstead as Grantaire also stood out (he has a dual role as the Bishop, as well)----excellent performance, which just made you want to keep an eye on him at all times. The rest of the cast was very good. As I said, it was a pleasure that the cast was so strong from top to bottom.

This was my first time seeing 'Les Mis' at the Queen's Theatre: when I first went in, I had the feeling it was too small for such an expansive production. However, those thoughts vanished as soon as the show started - everything seemed right. I popped for great seats this time: stalls F15, right in the centre. The seat was comfortable and there was plenty of legroom. At first I thought row F might be a tad too close, but again, I revised my opinion as soon as the show started. Row F turned out to be one of the best seats in the house...the sound was great, and you could clearly see the expressions on the actors' faces. I thought the seat was well worth the price.

As you can tell, it was an outstanding evening, and a performance I will remember for many years.

Alison.
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Fantastic. Although the Queens Theatre was smaller than I realised, it only added to the feeling that I was part of performance. Ramin Karimloo was amazing, wonderful singing and acting. The rest of the cast were equally fabulous and I would recommend anyone to come to 'Les Misérables'. I shed a few tears as it was very emotional at the end. We felt that the cast gave the best performance they could as if it was the first night.

There were five of us in our group and we sat in the stalls P4-8, although the overhang is there, in no way did it detract from the performance. We could see everything on the stage and we were close enough to feel part of the performance.

Some day we will go back to see it again.

Mel Cawkwell
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January 2012. We have just returned from a trip to see 'Les Misérables' at The Queens Theatre. That show just keeps on being brilliant doesn't it? We loved it.

We had tickets for Row AA13-15 in the Upper Circle. These are listed as having a 'slightly restricted view'. We were a little concerned when booking as we weren't sure what exactly constituted 'slightly restricted', but they were £10 cheaper than others in the row and they were right in the centre of the row - and at the front - so we took the risk.

Yes, they do have a restricted view insofar as you have to lean forward to see the very front of the stage. There is a lighting rig just in front of these seats which is why they are sold at a reduced price, however, I looked at the people sitting in the dearer seats on either side and they were also leaning forward so we felt the £10 saving per ticket was worth it. Granted on a couple of occasions we may have leant forward very slightly more than the others in the row, but I really didn't feel it was a problem. You also cannot see the orchestra pit from these seats (because of the lighting rig), not sure if this would be an issue for anyone other than those with relatives in the orchestra?? I am sure the rows behind us must have had a restricted view to some degree too (especially with row AA all leaning forward on the balcony wall), however I don't know this for a fact. The balcony wall has a velvet padded surface, so was very comfortable to rest arms/elbows on, and isn't too high.

My husband said his back was aching a little from leaning forward throughout, but I loved the show and was so engrossed that I didn't feel uncomfortable (we're in our 40s). My mum was with us too (in her 70's) she didn't complain that her back ached, but did say she kept getting pins & needles in her hands from leaning forward on her elbows. This wasn't an issue, she just moved her arms now and again. I imagine the seats may not be suitable for those with any kind of back problem. There is no extra legroom for being in the front row. None of us have long legs, so this wasn't a problem. For theatre goers with long legs, it may prove uncomfortable by the end of the three hours!

The seat/bottom part of the seats themselves are angled very slightly downwards. I'm not sure why this is, unless is allows a little more legroom? It wasn't enough to be obvious. If you sit back in your seat, you probably lose the front third of the stage. For those familiar with the show, you can see from the about drain/manhole cover and beyond (depending on your height I guess!).

I would be happy to book these seats again, we felt they were good value for the price.
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Les Misérables - 13th January 2012.

Sat in L1 of the Grand Circle, very good view, excellent sound and at only £20 quite a bargain.

This was my 7th viewing and my 4th at the Queen's Theatre.

The current cast led by Ramin Karimloo is very good and he is the best Jean Valjean I have ever seen. The only weak link was Eponine and as I don't really like 'On My Own' I was not to bothered. She was fine with 'A little Fall of Rain' which as ever brought tears to my eyes. But Mr Karimloo's 'Bring Him Home' was outstanding. In addition the new orchestrations seem to give the orchestra some added punch.

Not surprised it's in it's 27th year and by the fact there was not an empty seat to be seen I might suspect that this will be around for a few more years!

Taljaard
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January 2012: Superb show, amazingly staged. I saw Ramin last year as the Phantom and he was equally good as Jean. It’s such a superb ensemble performance though, so many of the cast have to be amazing singers. It may well run for another 25 years.

Stalls – Row A – Seats 10 and 11: Managed to get these through GILT for half price so a bargain. It’s a great view at the front, so close to the action. If you are shorter, the conductor may slightly get in your way at times if you sit in the middle of row A but otherwise fine. So if you can get hold of tickets for a discount then there is no reason to be put off by being in Row A. All the seats in the stalls are the new straight backed ones, which are not as comfortable as the traditional curved back styles.

Stalls – Row J – Seat 15: Was lucky enough to pick up one of the ‘Premium’ £85 seats half price at the last minute. It is a great view from the middle of stalls but is it worth paying the extra £20 for these ‘Premium’ seats I hear you ask ? Well if you were paying full price I would say it is not worth paying the extra, most normal seats in the stalls offer a great view and I don’t believe you would really get much different view a few rows further forward or back from the premium rows. If you are paying full price I would just try and get somewhere in the middle stalls either side of the premium rows, if you manage to get a discounted ticket then pretty much anywhere in the stalls is worth it. Leg room is ok but for the 6ft plus like myself I would say it is about average (the straight backed seats affect it), so not the best around but far from the worst and not a massive problem.
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Myself and partner went to see 'Les Mis' last Monday (6th February 2012) with GILT discount tickets.

They were offering upper circle seats 17 and 18 in Row AA. I consulted your seating plans and noted that these were additional rows without any feedback so I thought I would let you know that these were excellent value with a clear view of all the stage and the only real need for leaning forward was early on in the performance when Jean Valjean was being beaten up by the policeman for being on parole!

It's true that I usually sit on my coat to give myself extra height (being only 5'4") but partner was delighted with his view and said he'd book those seats again. The four seats to his right (from memory 13, 14, 15, 16) might get a bit hot in the summer being directly behind lighting rig but I do not think lights would interfere with viewing as quite low down. Leg room is not plentiful, but that is one perk of being short!
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I was keen to see the production again with Ramin Karimloo. so we went to the matinee on 18th February 2012, and were not disappointed. The HOUSE FULL sign was up, which was good!

We sat in seats C18 and 19 in the stalls, having followed the recommendations on this site. Excellent seats, not too far forward, fantastic view of all the action, and we felt really involved in it all. Every cast member gave it their all. Ramin - what can I say? Possibly the best Jean Valjean I've seen; he moved me to tears with his beautiful voice, and the cheers and standing ovation were well deserved.

The actors playing Javert, Marius, Enjolras and the Bishop were all stand-outs in an amazing cast. It's not light subject matter by any stretch, but we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. If you haven't seen Ramin, but can get a ticket, I would recommend it.
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Popped in to see 'Les Mis' on Thursday night February 23rd 2012. Got discounted tickets from the TKTS booth in Leicester Square, (£66 reduced to £36). Seats in Dress circle G1 to 4.

I'm not going to go on about the show as I'm sure enough has been said about it by now because it's been on long enough! But I will say that I didn't like it. Very dramatic, and well staged with strong performances from all the cast, but these 'all singing no dialogue' musicals are just not for me.

The seats we had (G1 to 4) in the Dress Circle were right on the edge of the row and I noticed were red on the all seeing, all hearing, and all knowing Theatremonkey seating plan, so was slightly worried. I have to say that there was nothing wrong with them at all! Yes they were slightly to the right hand side but I had a very clear view of the stage and didn't miss anything. Maybe at full price and with a production which sees a lot of action on the right hand side of the stage would create the 'little red mark' but I thought the seat was fine.*

The Queens Theatre (which I've never been in before) was another credit to Sir Cameron, as it was clean and well thought out (with the ticket buying public in mind) and the seats were very comfortable too. Everyone of his theatres that I've stepped inside has very much impressed me and long may he continue.


*Theatremonkey ratings are indeed based on paying full price (plus any agency fees if applicable, up to 25% extra). Discounted seats always get at least 1 grading higher. Editor.
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Les Misérables: Evening performance, 1st March 2012.

Seat: Dress Circle D18 - £39 from the TKTS Booth.

A premium £85 seat sold to me at £36 plus £3 booking fee. If I'd paid full price, (not that I would, premium seats being just a rip off in my view), I would have been a little bit disappointed. I believe the theatre has been refurbished and all new seating installed. I found the seat a bit uncomfortable and I'm only 5'6. It's the first time I've ever sat in a Dress Circle seat and had the rows in front (and I'm talking row C as well as B and A) leaning forward. D18 is just off centre; the view is generally fine, but I did have to sit bolt upright to see over the heads of those in the front 3 rows. A tad uncomfy for a show of this length.

I'm also not a fan of there being no centre aisle; when your dying to go to the toilet before Fantine's death in the long first act it's not good to get out of a central seat without disturbing a lot of people. I managed to wait till the end of the Act but it was touch and go... I really must remember that 2 pints of beer and a bottle of Coke is not a good idea before this show.

I've not see this show since its move to the Queens and have mixed feelings.

It looks squashed onto the stage here, not how I remember it at the Palace - and it seems there is a smaller cast. The cast were great - with one exception. I went to this performance knowing Ramin Karimloo was not on, but the actor playing Valjean was excellent - as was Javert, Fantine, Marius and Cosette.

The let down was Alexia Khadime as Eponine. Now, Eponine is one of my favourite characters - with probably my second favourite song in the entire show, (the first being 'One Day More'). Her voice is horrible, at times it was painful - especially when she riffs her way through 'On My Own.' I couldn't wait for her to die this time around... ironically she sang this very well - but it's the first time I've never 'teared up' at this point of the show. Oh, and the girl playing young Cosette, (I believe it was Cristina Fray) sounded more British Royal Family than French Lower Class; her pronunciation would have shamed many minor and some of our senior Royals. Very irritating!!

On the whole I liked the new orchestrations, but as a Les Miz purist I'll stick with the the OLC and Symphonic recordings.

Apart from that I enjoyed the show very much and have rediscovered it after a long absence. Will I go again? Well I'd like to get back before March 31st 2012 to see Ramin, but, while Alexia Khadime is playing Eponine I seriously doubt that I will.
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I went to see the matinee performance of 'Les Mis' yesterday (21st March 2012). It was my third visit, I wanted to go again because it's a couple of years since I saw it last and I wanted to see Ramin Karimloo. He was fantastic as expected, especially singing 'Bring Him Home,' the applause went on forever at the end of the song. Javert was also excellent. I see a few people have commented on Alexis Khadime as Eponine. I saw her in 'Wicked' and thought she was amazing, when I went to see it with someone else as Elphaba it was really disappointing. But I agree with others, she didn't really suit this role. She sang 'On My Own' very well, but it just didn't seem to fit. Marius was played by an understudy with big eyebrows but not such a big voice, he was struggling a bit. Everyone else was great.

I was sitting in the upper circle, A29. I mostly bought it because I was hoping the performance might not be that well attended and they would close the upper circle... but no such luck this time, I guess it doesn't always work. This is not a seat for someone who wants to be comfortable! However, if you can get yourself into the right position, sort of twisted and leaning forwards (!) you can see two thirds of the stage. I think the equivalent seat on the other side might be slightly better as a few things happened at the front of the stage on the left (is that one stage right? I can never remember) whereas not much happens on the other side that I can remember so I think you might miss a bit less? For £10 you really can't complain, and I would probably get it again if funds were low! Having said that, I moved during the interval as there were a few empty seats behind me. I ended up in B26, which was actually a pretty good seat, just missing a tiny bit of the stage. I heard lots of people in row AA complain that they couldn't see the front of the stage, and in row A that they couldn't see because AA were leaning forwards.

I don't think I will ever get tired of this musical. I'll let you know how I get on in another 2 years time!

Catherine.
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I just wanted to give my thanks to your excellent website for the wonderful information and advice and also give my opinion about my visit to the show.

After much deliberation I booked seats A4 and A5 in the dress circle for the matinee on 31st March 2012, knowing that it was Ramin Karimloo's penultimate performance in the role of Jean Valjean, I have to agree in part with other readers views that these seats would be normally best avoided due to the very side on seating position. I would however disagree with the very tight leg room (I am 6'1" and found it no worse than any other theatre or football ground which I have been to).

The fact is that you are unable to see the very extremities of the stage (My partner and I were on the right hand side as you look towards the stage and couldn't see a very tiny part of the singing action at one point); however this is compensated for by a reduced ticket price (and an indication that you have to possibly lean forward on the tickets). I would certainly by a similar position again for a similar price.

The performance itself was the usual high standard with Ramin outstanding as JVJ but also very strong accompanying this was Hadley Fraser as Javert and you cannot fail to mention the comedic contribution of M and Mme Thenardier (who were also very good). All in all another outstanding performance of this wonderful show.
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