Three years ago, we watched Les Miserables at Queen’s Theatre in London. I still remember having roast duck for dinner because the theatre was in the vicinity. It was the boy’s idea to watch it because I am not a fan of musicals. It took me a good 5-6 musicals before I realised that I really don’t like it the moment the cast starts singing (!) and decided that I should stick to watching theatre.
Queen’s Theatre is nothing like the Esplanade Theatre. It is a much smaller venue and I remember thinking that it smelt rather funky. We had stall seats but they were towards the back. I had a vague idea of the storyline – set in France, some guy chases this other guy, people revolt, many people die. So yes, I went into Queen’s Theatre with zero expectations. No wait. Actually, I expected to be bored and was afraid that I was going to fall asleep.
To say that I was blown away is an understatement. I believe I was left…astounded. When the lights came up at the interval, I remember looking at the boy and exclaiming: “OH MY. SO NICE, CAN?! That was amazing!” Or something along those lines.
I am not sure if being on holiday played a part (brain in relaxed, happy mode) but I thoroughly enjoyed the musical in London – the singing, the acting, everything.
When news broke that Les Miserables was going to play in Singapore from May 2016, we both agreed to catch it again. I booked tickets to watch the musical on 4 June 2016 the first day it went on sale (at 9.10am on 2 November 2015, to be exact) and we had awesome seats – second row from front – Row B, seats 9 and 10 which was somewhere in the middle. PERFECT.
June 2016 felt really far away then.
Of course, time flies and suddenly, we enter June 2016 and we found ourselves at the Esplanade Theatre. It was a rare date night out for us both and I was really quite excited. There was a long queue at the entrance of the theatre which I mistook momentarily for the queue to enter. As it turns out, it was the queue to….take a photo (or 10) with the Les Miserables backdrop.
We breezed past the entrance and saw this other backdrop with no queue (!) so if you are watching Les Miserables in Singapore, go snap a picture at this backdrop instead of the one right by the main entrance!
We were ushered to our seats and to my shock, row B turned out to the first row?! I swear Row B wasn’t the first row when I booked because I specifically did not want to be craning my neck to watch the almost 3-hour show.
For the purpose of this entry, I went into Sistic’s website again and voila! Row A shows up but in actual fact, THERE IS NO ROW A! I’ve marked out what I thought were seats that I booked – second row, at the corner (best seats in the category then). Row B is, in fact, the first row.
Wow. Front row. I’ve never watched anything live in the front row before so I was looking forward to how the experience will go. It was also the first time that I could peer into the orchestra’s pit and smile at the musicians just below us.
Being this close to the stage also meant that we could see every expression, (popping) neck veins, sweat and…spittle when the cast sang. Many scenes also unfolded right in front of us. Like, ‘3 metres away’ in front of us. One of the highlights of being in the first row was the scene where one of the actors waved the red flag right above our heads for a good 7-10 seconds. We could feel the wind draft! It was akin to a 4D musical experience 🙂
This version of Les Miserables contains new sets and staging. This helped bring alive certain scenes that might have been lost to first-timers to the musical. I won’t spoil it for you but many key scenes became more obvious (instead of having to just rely on your imagination), thanks to technology. The boy also noted that the popular tunes were sung more often (he’s the fan, remember?) which makes it palatable to first-timers.
My favourite tune is “Do you hear the people sing?” and it always, ALWAYS gives me goosebumps whenever I hear it, especially at the finale scene. The boy’s favourite song is “On My Own“. I caught him bopping his head along whenever the cast sang. Hehe.
Worth a watch if you haven’t seen it before because the new technological effects make it easier to understand. Plus, the Esplanade Theatre is a great venue. Overall, in terms of singing prowess, we both agreed that the cast in London did a better job.