Review: Les Miserables left audience feeling great

THERE is absolutely no question that Les Miserables is an impressive production.

With its powerful themes, dramatic historic backdrop and songs teeming with emotion, it is one of the musicals I have found most affecting in my limited theatrical experience – and the performance of it which I sat through on Friday night was no exception.

The school edition of Les Miserables was an ambitious first production for new theatre group What Free Time?! but if the cast was at all daunted by the task at hand it did not show on their young faces.

From the moment the curtain drew back to reveal the first scene, the audience saw a group of skilled performers working together to produce a truly excellent production.

By ten minutes in, Will Kinnon, who played obsessive policeman Javert, and Joel Dowson, as Jean Val Jean, had established themselves as talented and professional performers, and they proceeded to portray the roles with confidence, enthusiasm and skill for the rest of the musical. Both had several stand-out moments which were entirely worthy of the applause they received.

Several other actors showed incredibly promising talent in this performance, including Charley Argyle (Cosette), Kelly Greenhalgh (Fantine) and Chloe Leggatt (Madame Thenardier). Charley’s beautiful soprano voice was unfaltering throughout her scenes, even in some of the most challenging songs. Kelly Greenhalgh, who played her mother, also had a fabulous singing voice, adding a mature tone to songs including I Dreamed a Dream – now made famous by Susan Boyle. For Chloe, as the dishonest innkeeper’s wife, it was not simply her voice, but her overall presence which made her stand out as a wonderfully funny character actress.

Les Miserables was an entertaining, moving and very professional piece of theatre, and the entire cast is to thank for that. The songs performed by the company, including children from the choir at St Michael’s Primary School in Coningsby, were, for me, the most rousing moments of the show. What Free Time?! should be very proud of its first performance.