Review: Les Miserables @ The Queens Theatre

The title to this post is a little misleading due to the fact the theatre in the West End where Les Miserables is performed has the same name as my local theatre- it seems the Queen has a lot of theatres! I have been lucky enough to see Les Miserabes in London but today however, I am writing about the one being performed in Barnstaple; which has been of just as high a standard.

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As you can see from the blue, white and red lighting used, Barnstaple Young Generations School Edition of Les Miserables just screams Vive La France. Honestly, I don't have enough adjectives in my vocabulary to describe just how much I enjoyed this performance, a performance that both my parents and I can not fault.

Set in 19th Century France, the show tells the story of ex-convict Jean Val Jean as he breaks parole and cares for a late factory workers daughter in an act of redemption. The story also follows the lives of several others and you witness the loss and passion of those involved in the French Uprising. Without giving too much away, I will say is that if you stood outside once the performance had come to an end you would witness a large amount of audience members emerging as they wipe tears from their faces. After watching the film for the first time I sobbed for hours on end and this performance does that justice. There are certainly no happy endings.

I'm sure many of you have heard the saying that "there are no small parts, just small actors" and that couldn't apply more to a performance than it did to Les Mis. Everyone on stage, whether it was Jean Val Jean himself or a member of the chorus, gave there absolute everything. Even if the dialogue or action wasn't focused on them, everyone remained in character for the duration. I think that's what made it more emotional; the fact that it all seemed so real.

The musical numbers were accompanied with an on-stage orchestra situated behind a screen which gave the music a certain depth to it. This was complemented by the fact that this was one of the strongest performances vocally that I have seen to date. This was especially highlighted through the numbers where the whole cast was involved. I'm not a musical genius in any way but even I could identify that those harmonies were worth getting goosebumps over. Both Jean Val Jean and Fantine had equally strong voices and had incredible stage presence to match.

I could probably write a whole blog post on just how well each of the characters performed, and saying that I could more than likely write TWO on Fantine. I could tell just by looking at peoples faces that her acting had completely moved several audience members as she yearned for freedom. I had the pleasure of commentary all the way through the show from a very loud lady behind me, but even she was speechless as I Dreamed A Dream was sang with so much emotion. Her pain was conveyed completely through both her words and the look in her eyes.
Both Gavroche and Young Cosette, the two younger principal characters, proved that you don't need to be of a certain age to perform well. Thénardier and Madame Thénardier also stood out to me, and had plenty of people laughing to themselves (myself included).

Full of wickedly quick costume changes, dramatic lighting, and a fully turning barricade, BYG's take on such a well-known show wouldn't be out of place on a West End Stage. If you wish to get tickets for the remaining show this evening I would do so quickly as if it is anything like last nights show they are on high demand. You can get them from the North Devon Theatres website and you too can Dream the Dream of Les Miserables.

The wonders of the theatre

Here I am, still trying desperately to keep you updated as I drown under the pressure of my 20 exams. Most of my friends have 11 or 12 and somehow I've ended up with 20 thanks to triple science and my choice of subjects. Sorry if everything is very quickly strung together at the moment, but after the next four weeks are over I have an 11 week long summer to spend working on katiehuxtable,com. I'm hoping to change the look around a bit and really work on getting some good posts out in the world. That is a promise.

So, on to todays post- the theatre. I should probably make a public apology to all those who have heard me attempt at singing Phantom of the Opera or any of the other range of musicals I love in and around school. I just can't deny it- I love the theatre. I've played the soundtrack to Mamma Mia and Grease so much my friend Beth can't even bare to listen to it anymore. (Sorry about that!!).

Since writing my first ever theatre review on this blog about Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap which was published a year ago this week (you can read it here) I seem to have spiraled into a world of theatre. I soon discovered that not only do I love to watch a good show but it doesn't seem right unless I have written about it too. There isn't much that gives me more joy than dressing up, putting my blogging notebook into my bag and going to watch a show - even if it does mean spending the interval eagerly scribbling down notes in order to make sure my memory doesn't let me down. 

Although I visit the theatre often, I am rarely seen at a cinema. Don't get me wrong, I love a good film and I'll happily curl up at home and watch a good movie. There's just something in being in a cinema that sends me to sleep? I am that person who, no matter how much I'm enjoying a movie, always wakes up at the end feeling gutted to have missed out, I just can't help it. I must take after my mother who somehow slept her way through the whole of The Hobbit. 

The theatre on the other hand is a completely different experience. Having the action right there in front of you provides a completely different atmosphere. Although watching a production may be seen as more of a special occasion, I seem to somehow have turned it into a hobby too. 

My next trip to the theatre is on the 29th of May and is the School Edition of Les Miserables at The Queens Theatre in Barnstaple. Not only do I love Les Mis, but I also know some of the cast. It really is going to be a great show and you can expect a review in the days to follow.

The experience of the theatre is something that just can't be replicated using a big screen. If you want to watch Les Miserables at Barnstaple from the 27th to the 30th of May or fancy any of the other shows on in North Devon- check out the North Devon Theatres website here.

Take a tour around: North Devon

North Devon, the home of Hockings Ice Cream- which, other than some lovely scenery, is about the only thing we've got going for us down here. Only kidding. I honestly do like it.

I can really say, having grown up here my whole life, I wouldn't of wished to live anywhere else. It took me a while to really appreciate what Devon has to offer but I recently found a love for it- thanks to the opportunity of being able to see it through a camera lens. 

I'm sorry to say that over the next two months my posts will be rather quick and easy due to exam revision (not that anybody reads these anyway)! Today, drowning in Biology and Chemistry revision I thought something nice to share with you, as I haven't done a photograph post in a while, would be some of my favourite pictures I have taken locally. North Devon really is a nice place to live but I'm sure that many people who have lived here all their lives would struggle to agree as they wake up and see the same thing everyday. But when you really think about it, it truly is a lovely place. Personally I prefer the coastal parts of it and as I have said on previous posts my favourite lazy Sunday activity (which now has to take place on a Saturday due to work) is going for a drive to stop off and look at the sea somewhere new or have an explore in the car with the windows down.

In the following photographs the locations are Ilfracombe, Chapleton, Bude, Blakewell, Appledore, Stoney Cross, Northam Dunes, Westward Ho! and Clovelly. They are all taken by me unless they have me in them in which case they were taken by a friend or most probably my Mam!

Good luck to anyone doing exams at this time of year and I'll see you on the other side with some posts that I will put some proper time into!