Prisoner 24601 reporting for parole! Jean Valjean, the convict imprisoned for a case of theft of a loaf of bread to feed a starving nephew now funnels his remarkable life story to Singapore audiences at the Esplanade Theater. After 20 long years of wait, Les Misérables is finally back at the barricades of Singapore. The sweeping masterpiece by French poet, novelist and visual artist, Victor Hugo made its musical stage debut during the year of 1985 and Cameron Mackintosh together with its producers/directors weren’t holing any strings of clues that this musical will make it big – more so become one of the most popular musical of all time.
Based on the Victor Hugo classic novel, this 19th-century tale set in France is about the “survival of the human spirit” and features songs such as “Do You Hear the People Sing?”, “I Dreamed a Dream”, “Master of the House”, “On My Own”, “Stars” and “One Day More”. Les Misérables enthusiasts will find the production as seductive as ever with its opening act of “Look Down”, delivering astounding theatrical and cinematic illusions; Les Misérables has Cameron Mackintosh at its heart.
Kerrie Ann Greenland plays Éponine
Broken dreams, unrequited love, sacrifice and redemption – combine all these and that’s where the leap of faith chandelled. Javert’s hot pursuit and obsession with Jean Valjean remains constant and dark; fact is, it’s the darkness that gives Les Misérables its indispensable depth. Producers describe this new production as more contemporary, filled with modern technology and possess a more cinematic appeal.
Les Misérables has been translated into 44 countries, 348 cities and in 22 different languages; over 70 million people have watched it. Each performance entails some 392 complete costumes, 1782 items of clothing and 31 wigs. A piece of hair wig even costs a thousand dollars!
Highlights include the way they laid Act 1 to end with “One Day More”, the passion to fight for what is right soars on stage.The production comes into its own in Act 2, the war unfolds is at its fiery best.
Simon Gleeson as Jean Valjean is a robust yet sublime testament to the timeless strength of human spirit. Earl Carpenter ‘s portrayal of Javert on the other hand focused on his own version of a forever blinded justice. His mental torment just radiates on stage, both have powerful voices that every part of the musical becomes picturesque.
With most people not taking the time to read books anymore, this is apt to relive this classic tale. You don’t need to read the book to fall in love with its gripping story and production. Expect new orchestrations, sound design, Victor Hugo’s paintings – all seemed to cajoled to give the audience that Les Misérables authentic feels.
Here’s my interview with the Les Misérables cast members and the production team.
Alain Boublil – lyricist & best known for his collaborations with the composer Claude-Michel Schönberg for musicals on Broadway and London’s West End. These include: La Révolution Française (1973), Les Misérables (1980), Miss Saigon (1989)
How will you describe Les Misérables in this modern day era?
Since the book is less read nowadays, we aim to spread the message of Les Misérables all over the world. The vitality of human relationships, the battles to win, people will know that this is still relevant from the day it was written.
Michael Cassel – Executive Producer
What’s the biggest challenge in doing Les Misérables?
The logistics. But when we see how the audience react and express their love for the show, we’re truly thankful.
James Powell – Director
How does Les Misérables maintain that ‘fresh’ attack after all these years?
We do not compromise. The piece has to remain current and when the actor brings in a new take or idea, that’s how it becomes FRESH AGAIN.
Describe Les Misérables in two words?
Thrilling and terrifying.
Most challenging scene?
First scene! Always expect the unexpected.
Best part/scene of Les Misérables?
Javert’s suicide. There are 4 factors to bring this scene to perfection:
Lighting. Marriott of the Music. The Actor. Lastly, the projection.
Nick Allott – Managing Director of Cameron Mackintosh Ltd. Named as one of London’s 1000 most influential people of in 2011 & 2012 by the Evening Standard.
Tell us something new with Les Misérables?
This new production of Les Misérables embraced a more contemporary feel to it. More cinematic, we have injected modern technology but the material stays fresh.
What is the Cameron Mackintosh magic that works for Les Misérables?
It’s Cameron’s attention to detail. He wants to make the audience believe that it’s always their first time seeing it.
Simon Gleeson – Jean Valjean
Beard. To shave or not to shave?
I was shopping for sunglasses with my daughter, and every single piece I tried on she will say the same thing:
You look like a criminal.
Earl Carpenter (Javert)
What makes Les Misérables a classic piece?
The way the music captures the emotion of every character.
Do you ever get tired of portraying Javert?
I do. Just like going to your regular job every single day. I give it a fresher attack by studying the audience, their reactions and whatnot.
Patrice Tipoki (Fantine)
Do you do anything special before performing on stage?
We all huddle before the show, just to say hi, make eye contact. It’s a good booster for everyone.
Paul Wilkins (Marius). Emily Langridge (Cosette). Kerrie Ann Greenland (Eponine)
How does Marius feel being torn between a beautiful blonde and a brunette?
Lucky ! (*eyes twinkling)
Favorite lines from the musical and why?
Eponine & Cosette: Do you hear the people sing, the people song! That wall cry is so passionate it keeps us all pumped up!
Chris Durling – Enjolras
What’s your take on portraying the role of Enjolras?
Oh, it’s definitely the perfect role for me in my early 30’s. I will do my best to keep my vest after my very last performance, it’s my favorite!
What do you do in your spare time?
I do yoga, watch movie. You know, the normal me time.
The Voice Kids Finalist Esang de Torres is also playing little Cosette in the show as well as Filipino/Australian talent, Chloe De los Santos. I’ve witnessed Esang on stage and she did a great job. She even auditoned for Annie, got the part of Molly but due to schedule conflict with Les Mis, she won’t be able to take the part.
It will be hard to condemn an adaptation of a novel with an epic proportion, Cameron Mackintosh, Powell and team did execute an incredible production. Les Misérables is profoundly moving, with a stellar cast performance to boot. A tight, thrilling and breathtaking musical that stands out once again as an epic musical production at its finest.
Modern technology may have been imbibed to this production but it didn’t change a thing with the performance. Les Misérables raked in a standing ovation and will definitely run for more decades, with that I’m sure.
Les Misérables – Singapore
Tue, 31 May – Sun, 24 Jul 2016
Tue – Fri: 8pm
Sat: 2pm & 8pm
Sun: 1:30pm & 7pm
Ticket Prices: from $58- $228
How to book:
The Phantom of The Opera is Back in Singapore (Now Playing at the Marina Bay Sands ’til 1st Sept 2013)