Les Misérables: crime, love, revolution and song

Les Miserables by Noteable Theatre Company (Image: Grant Leslie Photography)

Arts editor Rita Bratovich went to opening night of Les Misérables at The Concourse, Chatswood and came away singing its praises. 

Les Misérables is an operatic-style musical with an epic plot, big songs and a level of solemnity that would scare most theatre companies towards lighter fare. Not the Noteable Theatre Company. They have taken it on with the fortitude of a fist-waving revolutionary soldier and they have well and truly conquered. 

The timeless Alain Boublil/Claude-Michel Schönberg musical based on Victor Hugo’s brick-thick, highly acclaimed novel is a constant in repertoires around the world, with many of its songs having become beloved anthems in their own right. 

James Hurley as Jean Valjean in Les Misérables by the Noteable Theatre Company. Photo: Grant Leslie Photography/supplied.

Set in Paris, the story spans the years 1815 to 1832, focusing mainly on the adult life of Jean Valjean (played by James Hurley). Valjean is destitute and demoralised, imprisoned for 19 years for stealing bread, and released into an unforgiving world. Though he works hard to restore his honour, Valjean is relentlessly pursued by Javert (Lachlan O’Brien), the police inspector who is obsessed with recapturing Valjean on seemingly any pretext. 

Valjean crosses paths with Fantine (Keira Connelly), a young woman forced into prostitution to provide for her child, Cosette. When Fantine dies, Valjean takes on guardianship of Cosette, whom we then see some years later as a young woman (Isabelle Kahout). Cosette, in turn, crosses paths with Marius (played on opening night by understudy, Sam Hamilton, but normally by Dominic Lee-Lindsay). Marius is a student and he and Cosette fall in love. 

Les Misérables by the Noteable Theatre Company. Photo: Grant Leslie Photography.

The stirrings of a minor revolution forms an adjacent plotline, with Reece Lyndon in the role of Enjoiras, the leader of the rebels. Marius also joins the group and fights. A young, impoverished woman, Eponine (Liz Cornwall) insists on joining the rebels, although her motivation is that she is secretly in love with Marius. 

The popular, pantomime-styled, humorously wicked middle-aged couple, Monsieur and Madame Thénardier are played with relish by Neville Bereyne and Sally Redman, respectively. 

There are many other minor roles, including child characters, whose players deserve collective acknowledgement. 

Liz Cornwall as Eponine in Les Misérables by the Noteable Theatre Company. Photo: Grant Leslie Photography.

All voices are very strong and faultless, and the performances emotional and convincing. 

Set design is simple but effective, aided by intuitive lighting. The orchestra and sound quality are excellent. 

This is a thoroughly engaging production, commensurate with the musical itself which proves again how utterly stunning its songs and story are. 

The season is short, so be sure to get tickets. It’s totally worth it. 

The Notable Theatre Company’s production of Les Misérables plays The Concourse, 409 Victoria Avenue, Chatswood at 7.30pm Wednesday–Saturday and 2pm Saturday–Sunday, until Sunday, 14 March, 2021. Tickets ($64.50–$74.70) available from theconcourse.com.au/les-miserables or (02) 8075 8111.