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Review: Les Miserables by Lichfield Musical Youth Theatre at Lichfield Cathedral

A new production by Oliver Rowe and his team is always a much anticipated event – and even more so with Les Miserables which has perhaps become their signature work.

Marvellously ambitious, this production was even more remarkable for the seamless shoehorning in to the cathedral of a production that was a miracle of lighting, costuming and endlessly inventive stage sets all seamlessly presented.

Les Miserables

Les Miserables

It’s a massive work based on Victor Hugo’s equally huge novel of 1862, but its many challenges were made to look effortless in the marvellously capable hands of director Julia Mallaband and choreographer Jemma Tiso.

The second half in particular is a wonder of imaginative staging, evoking the whole drama of the era’s bloody conflict.

Among the many performers obviously ready for West End/Broadway careers, Hattie Rumsey as Fantine stood out for me while Adam Pritchard as Jean Valjean sported a truly remarkable vocal range.

Sophie-Rose Dickinson was an unusually feisty grown-up Eponine, full of unexpected spirit, while Grace Willis and the marvellously droll Ollie Willett as the lowlife Thenardiers who become suspiciously grand after the revolution.

But even in this marvellous cast one performer stood out for me and here it was Nathan De Giorgio as the potentially tragic Javert. Here is an outstanding musical star character actor, and I wish him all future success in his career.

I must just mention the (almost) unseen orchestra under Mr Rowe’s sensitive baton which could take on professional theatre ensembles any day of the week.

If I’m lucky enough I might sneak in to see the second half again – it’s a masterclass of economy in staging, apparently simple yet epic while still a revelation of fresh playfulness.

The truth is you won’t see direction of this kind, achieving apparently effortless perfection with no trickery or modish degradations, no matter how far up the ladder you go.

See it at all costs, if it’s not already sold out.

Lichfield Musical Youth Theatre’s production of Les Miserables runs until Saturday (April 28).

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