Tag Archives: David Thaxton

Les Misérables – London

14 Jun

Les Misérables has long been one of the all time classics of London’s theatre scene. And ever since the release of the motion picture starring Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean the musical’s popularity has reached new highs.

Les Miserable, 2015

Now in its 33rd year the show recently welcomed a new cast to the Queen’s theatre. Dean Chisnall now stars as Jean Valjean – the man who quite frankly gets into a whole lot of trouble for stealing a loaf of bread. Having recently appeared as The Narrator in Blood Brothers (UK Tour) this is Dean’s long overdue return to the West End. Jean Valjean is a role that requires both vocal and acting strength. And Dean is not short on either of those. He manages to give Valjean a vulnerability that makes it easy to relate to the convict who breaks his parole. At the same time his Valjean is determined and strong. He is haunted by his past but knows right from wrong and wants to be a good man. Vocally Dean handles the score with ease, his “Soliloquy” and “Bring him home” being a particular highlight.

David Thaxton continues as Javert until July 21st (Bradley Jaden takes over from July 23rd). His take on the role is unique and perfect in its very own way – Javert being driven by his hunt for Valjean and appearing to be on the edge of losing his mind. Combined with a strong voice this makes for a stand out performance. Seeing Dean and David on stage together is especially thrilling. Watching them literally puts you on the edge of your seat.

Elena Skye’s Eponine is exactly what I expect of the role – rough and a bit run down from what life has thrown at her, yet strong and witty with a will to be better than her parents. Eponine is not the pretty girl from next door and Elena portrays just that. Her “On my own” brings the house down and her longing for Marius is believable without being tacky.

Another strong new addiction to the cast is Amara Okereke as Cosette who does not drift into the “helpless girl” cliché too much which is all too easy with this role. And with her clear voice she manages to express Cosette’s feelings through the songs.

Toby Miles is a solid Marius with a good voice. However, the stand out amongst the students is Samuel Edwards’ Enjolras who shines every time he appears on stage. I will admit I am no fan of his wig – but that might be just me.

The Thenardiers, played by Steven Meo and Vivien Parry, provide most of the comic relief moments of the show with Vivien giving the strongest performance. Her Madame Thenardier is sarcastic to the bone and nasty as can be.

Carley Stenson gives a good performance as Fantine. Her “I dreamed a dream” is full of despair and pulls at the audience’s hearts.

It is great to see Les Misérables is still going strong at the Queen’s Theatre. The show proves that theatre is alive and kicking and will be for many years to come.

If you have not seen the show I suggest you do it now because Les Misérables is having a great year cast wise. And if you have seen the show before: Go again because you do not want to miss seeing all that talent on stage.

Les Misérables is playing at the Queen’s Theatre. For more info and tickets go to https://www.lesmis.com/london.

Find the show on Facebook and Twitter @lesmisofficial .

*More pictures will be added once the new production shots have been released*

 

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Jesus Christ Superstar – Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

19 Aug

Jesus Christ Superstar in an open air venue staged like a gig. The concept sounds intriguing and intrigued is what I was when I sat down to watch Regent’s Park Open Air Theate’s summer musical 2016.

First of all the set is wonderful. It’s quite simple but effective and doesn’t take anything away from the one thing that really makes this show: The cast. There’s Declan Bennett as Jesus who gives the role an almost folk-like touch. He’s the angsty leader, a saviour who has been cast in a role he did not ask for. His Gethsemane is a show stopper, sung with so much emotion it hurts the heart. On the other side there is Tyrone Huntley’s fierce Judas – furious with Jesus for not making a real difference and not standing up for himself and the people who worship him.

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Jesus Christ Superstar is a show that for me stands and falls with its two lead actors. You need a Jesus and a Judas who complement each other. And this is exactly what you get in this production. Declan Bennett’s Jesus has an almost eerie calmness surrounding him even in his most vocal moments of the show. Tyrone Huntley’s Judas on the other hand is loud and angry. It’s the perfect mix.

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The show has a strong supporting cast. David Thaxton’s Pilate is truly menacing, Peter Caulfield is possibly the most fabulous Herod I have ever seen and Anoushka Lucas is a sweet Mary Magdalene with a rich voice full of heart and soul.

Interaction between the characters seems to be missing at times possibly due to the concert staging of the show. While Jesus Christ Superstar always has a concert element to it this production goes one step further letting the performers use hand mics and even instruments on stage. At times it does feel like one after the other is coming on stage to sing a song – even when addressing another character the performer would sometimes look at the audience.

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The ensemble works hard – the times they stand still are very limited in this production. While I find Drew McOnie’s choreographie impressive and imaginative I feel there is slightly too much of it here. But seeing Genesis Lynea dance is such a treat so I am not complaining too much.

Then there is the glitter – so much of it. I am a bit torn about the use of it. While I think it is an interesting artistic choice the pure amount of glittery gold on stage seems ridiculous at times. On the other hand having a bloody, beaten and broken Jesus covered in glitter at the end of the show is a haunting image that surely leaves an impression.

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All in all this is a vibrant and imaginative new production of one Andrew Lloyd Webber’s finest (my opinion) musicals. It’s not a flawless show but the positive certainly outweighs the negative and the brilliant cast alone make this a production not to be missed.

Jesus Christ Superstar runs at Regent Park’s Open Air Theatre until August 27th 2016. For more info visit: https://openairtheatre.com/production/jesus-christ-superstar The rest of the run is currently sold out but returns may become available.