By Emma Dyer

The opening night of Showbiz Christchurch’s current production, Les Misérables, as per their usual practice was a treat for the senses. Stunning scenery combined with gorgeous costumes and excellent hair and make-up within the beautiful surrounds of the Isaac Theatre Royal. The singing and live orchestral accompaniment really makes you feel immersed in the story in a way that watching a movie just can’t rival. There is magic when you attend a live musical theatre performance, it heightens the enjoyment when you know that you are experiencing an incredibly well rehearsed but ultimately unique performance.

 


If like me you haven’t seen Les Misérables before you may have arrived at the incorrect conclusion that it was largely a tragedy. It is not. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of drama, injustice, and sadness in this scathing commentary on 18th century French society. However there are also plenty of hilarious pratfalls, raunchy gags, and utterly amusing scenes in the show. For those of you that have seen Les Misérables go see it again. This complex tale of love, redemption, sacrifice, and heroism has so much depth that there will always be new layers to unwrap.  Les Misérables is a 38 year old musical, based on the 1862 Victor Hugo book of the same name, and among other social injustice issues it perfectly captures the themes of the contemporary #metoo movement. The perfectly performed song “At the End of the Day” is the best example of this. An ensemble piece which explores general aspects of poverty, but then zeros in on women in the workplace. It talks of women in subordinate roles, who can’t afford to lose their jobs, and are at the mercy of a male superior who can fire them without a second thought if his lecherous advances are refused. Sound familiar?

Onto comedic relief, which is largely provided by the two very talented performers playing despicable but somehow likeable inn-keeper Monsieur Thénardier (Ben Freeth) and his wife Madame Thénardier (Rebecca Malcolm). Blackmailing, rotten souled, scoundrels through and through they mistreat and swindle all they come in contact with, but are still relatable. The brilliant acting of the pair, but especially by Ben Freeth, kept the audience riveted on their every devious and usually suggestive or inappropriate move.

The Thénardiers (Rebecca Malcolm and Ben Freeth) and Valjean (Daniel Belle).

The Thénardiers played by Rebecca Malcolm and Ben Freeth, and Valjean played by Daniel Belle.


Acts of heroism, redemption, and sacrifice are also abundant, even in the face of overwhelming misery. This is a story about doing the right thing, even when you don’t have to, even when it would be easy to find justification for doing otherwise. Several times we witness on stage the characters choosing to sacrifice their comfort and personal feelings. The Ten Tenors performer Daniel Belle is a powerhouse as he plays Jean Valjean, a former prisoner who ultimately devotes his life to making good. Solo mother Fantine, is hauntingly played by Kira Josephson (she was Elphaba’s wheelchair bound sister in Showbiz’s production of Wicked earlier this year) gave literally everything she had to give her young daughter Cosette a good life. You’d have to have a pretty hard heart not to feel her pain, as she is thrown in the path of the comically made-up ladies of the night, during the sarcastically sung “Lovely Ladies”.

Fantine played by Kira Josephson

Fantine played by Kira Josephson


Javert, the apparent villain of the show, is played by James Foster and he delivers a solid performance. This is a character with obviously conflicting emotions who believes himself in the right by virtue of his role as enforcer of the law. It is hard to condemn him for doing what he truly believes to be the right thing, even if his actions feel wrong to modern ideals. One of the things I most enjoyed about the show was how nuanced the story is, there is no definite answer of what is right or wrong. It makes for some seriously suspenseful scenes!

The opening night child performers (they alternate through the season) in the roles of Eponine, Gavroche, and Cosette were each spot on in their own way. The challenging solo of “Castle on A Cloud” was performed by Isla Palmer as Cosette and gave me goosebumps. Her voice was positively angelic.  An optimistic sounding song, heartbreaking in the context of her miserable situation, this young lady performed with a perfect wistfulness. Gavroche actor Duncan Price on the other hand delivered a comic performance worthy of an actor three times his age. These young actors have a great future in the theatre ahead of them.

Monique Clementson as Eponine. Photo by Danielle Colvin

Monique Clementson as Eponine.

There were numerous other outstanding performers incl Eddie Redmayne look-alike Fergus Inder playing young idealistic Marius. Adult Cosette is excellently played by Jacqueline Doherty, and it is a joy to see adult Eponine so sympathetically played by Monique Clementson. Jack Fraser as Enjolras as he once again acts the revolutionary (he was Che in last year’s Showbiz production of Evita).

Aside from excellent singing, dancing, and acting the spectacle was completed by a massive portion of the stage rotating at perfectly timed intervals, adding an extra layer of urgency and perspective to many of the scenes. The set design is incredibly realistic and elaborate, a highlight for me was the barricade made of chairs, tables, doors etc that all perfectly fit together to look like the unstable jumble of a real improvised urban barricade but was instead a carefully crafted set strong enough to hold a troop of performers as they clambered all over it.

The orchestra may have been hidden in the pit, largely invisible to the eye, but it sure made its presence felt. Knowing that the singers are being accompanied live by musicians of the highest quality makes you feel rather proud of our city that we can summon up such talented individuals night after night. The depth of sound that they achieve is really immersive too and adds to the feeling of being directly involved in the story unfolding on stage.

Teh Les Mis Orchestra: Back Row (left to right): Craig Given (Percussion), Matthew Everingham (Keyboard 1), Michael Story (Bass), Iain Brandram-Adams (Cello) and Iain Mclachlan (Trumpet/Flugelhorn). Middle row: Elvira Dommisse (Flute), William Ernest (Keyboard 2), Georgina Rees-Stevenson (Clarinet), Lucienne Shelley (Violin), Susan McKeich (Oboe), Pippa Mills (Viola), Julian Weir (Horn 1) and Brooke Prendergast (Horn 2). Seated: Thomas Eves (Trumpet/Flugelhorn), Richard Marrett (Conductor) and Scott Taitoko (Trombone). Not pictured: Sandy Radford (Viola).

The Les Mis Orchestra: Back Row (left to right): Craig Given (Percussion), Matthew Everingham (Keyboard 1), Michael Story (Bass), Iain Brandram-Adams (Cello) and Iain Mclachlan (Trumpet/Flugelhorn).
Middle row: Elvira Dommisse (Flute), William Ernest (Keyboard 2), Georgina Rees-Stevenson (Clarinet), Lucienne Shelley (Violin), Susan McKeich (Oboe), Pippa Mills (Viola), Julian Weir (Horn 1) and Brooke Prendergast (Horn 2). Seated: Thomas Eves (Trumpet/Flugelhorn), Richard Marrett (Conductor) and Scott Taitoko (Trombone). Not pictured: Sandy Radford (Viola).

It is plain to see that the work of so many people has not been wasted on this epic musical. Everyone involved with Showbiz Christchurch, at all levels, has clearly put their utmost dedication into this production of Les Misérables and it really has paid off. I suspect that most of Christchurch will want to see this show before it finishes in early October. This is definitely a FOMO-worthy event so buy yourself some tickets now, because this show is three hours (incl intermission) of action packed adventure-drama-comedy you won’t want to miss.

 

All photos by Danielle Colvin Photography

Review by Patrick Shepherd, Sep 16 2018

Les Misérables stands apart from its contemporaries as the musical that defines all others of its generation and this production would rank as the best of the three I have seen.
The audience knew it intimately, applauding pretty much every major song, rising to its feet for a final standing ovation.
On every level, this is a very strong production, from the excellent leading roles, through strong supports and ensemble cast, to a polished band and realistic costumes.

I loved the imposing set, with its effective use of downlights and spots, the backlit louvre shutters adding warmth but also looming shadows. The sewer scene was particularly eerie. Okay, there were a couple of missed mic cues, fluffed lyrics and slow changes but, overall, I’m sure Showbiz will be happy with this as a first night.

You haven’t got a show if Valjean and Javert aren’t top-notch and Daniel Belle (Jean Valjean) and James Foster (Javert) are simply superb.

Daniel Belle (Valjean) and Fergus Inder (Marius)

Daniel Belle (Valjean) and Fergus Inder (Marius)

Belle brings all the physicality and presence to the role, as well as a voice that has emotional depth across a wide range, Bring Him Home and its reprise being the epitome of his stamina and control.

Belle has that magnetism and intensity that made all his songs compelling. The acerbic complement to that was Foster’s truly icy Javert, becoming visibly more conflicted and tormented. Stars was magnificent and his death a remarkably convincing piece of theatre magic.

Comic relief was provided by the sleazy antics of Ben Freeth and Rebecca Malcolm as the Thénardiers (Master of the House), gleefully sordid and a definite crowd-pleaser, along with their gaudy and raucous “lovely ladies”.

Kira Josephson was a suitably fragile Fantine, delivering a heartfelt I Dreamed a Dream, while Monique Clementson (Eponine) was a real revelation, standing out as a real rough diamond with raw emotion and tenderness.

The unrequited love element in the love-triangle between her, Fergus Inder (Marius) and Jacqueline Doherty (Cosette) cut deep, Clementson and Inder working Eponine’s death scene perfectly.


Inder gave a moving account of Empty Chairs at Empty Tables but omitting the actual empty chairs and tables from the scene lessened the impact. I also felt that Doherty needed to be more prominent, being a bit understated at times, but she navigated In My Life skilfully.

As the brooding and hot-blooded Enjolras, Jack Fraser sang with passion and conviction as he amassed his men. Duncan Price was a cheeky Gavroche and Arawyn Allan-Griffiths and Isla Palmer did very well as the young Eponine and Cosette, Castle on a Cloud simply lovely.

If you love Les Mis, see it again – if you’ve never seen it, you won’t be disappointed.

The season continues until October 6 – it may be a while before Les Mis comes this way again, and when it does it would be going some to better this outstanding production.

Reviewed by Fiona S Giles, Theatreview 15 Sep 2018

If you already have your tickets for Showbiz Christchurch’s production of Les Misérables, then you are fortunate. If not, what are you thinking? Hurry while they are available. Les Mis, as it’s affectionately called, has run continuously in London since 1985 and toured globally. It is more than a musical, it’s a cultural phenomenon. Which it almost has no right to be.

Victor Hugo’s 1463 page epic (first published in 1862), spanning almost twenty years, depicts the struggles of the French poor against a brutal justice system, grinding poverty and prejudice. Hardly uplifting stuff. Add to that the doomed rebellion and the relentless hounding of noble pauper Jean Valjean by officer Javert and, on paper, it makes one wonder how the musical ever got off the ground.

But it works. It gets under your skin. The music is heart-stirring, the story grand and sweeping. There are characters to love, to hate, to pity and to laugh at. It has love, pain, despair, redemption, the whole roller coaster of human emotion condensed into two and a half hours. The musical is long, I admit, but the pace is unremitting, aided by a revolving stage that keeps the action ever flowing.

This is the story of Jean Valjean, a man released after 19 years hard labour for stealing bread, who reconstructs himself as a respectable town mayor and factory owner before inadvertently causing the downfall of the wretched Fantine. As atonement, he raises Fantine’s daughter Cosette as his own. Cosette falls in love with a young Revolutionary, whom Valjean protects for Cosette’s sake. Throughout it all Valjean is hunted by the morally inflexible policeman Javert.

Valjean carries the weight of the story on his shoulders and you need an incredible talent to carry the musical. Showbiz Christchurch has found that in Daniel Belle, a remarkably talented singer and performer. Belle brings a steady inner strength to his Valjean, a pride in his bearing throughout his journey from embittered convict to compassionate father. Belle’s singing is stunning, particularly in ‘Bring Him Home’, a song that rises to a breathtaking crescendo that has the audience whooping and cheering.

Javert is, by contrast, a man who doesn’t believe in redemption in this life. The law is black and white to Javert: only brutal justice can provoke good behaviour. It can be easy to slip into a wooden portrayal of this unyielding man, but James Foster plays Javert with personality and humanity. He is superb as Javert on the bridge, grappling with the knowledge that his world has utterly unravelled.

Fantine is the woman who is trying to support her daughter, broken down by an uncaring society, until, destitute and ill, she hits back. Saved from arrest by Valjean, she begs him to care for her Cosette. Kira Josephson plays a perfect Fantine. Her powerful, emotive voice holds the audience spellbound. Her eyes betray the unforgiving life she has suffered, her voice trembles with her pain.

Monique Clementson is a heartbreaking Eponine, the woman who hides her true feelings for Marius under a tomboyish mask. Her heartfelt rendition of ‘On My Own’ brings me to tears and the audience to a thunderous applause.

Jacqueline Doherty plays the adult Cosette for the naive sheltered girl she is. She and Fergus Inder’s idealistic and frankly oblivious student Marius make it believable that they could have fallen in love so quickly. Their courtship scene is played with great innocence against the brutality outside the gates, though I stifle a laugh when Marius seems to show superhuman strength by bending the iron bars as he squeezed through. Why not have made the gaps wider?

Ben Freeth and Rebecca Malcolm deserve special recognition for their portrayal of Monsieur and Madame Thénardier, a pair representing the more grotesque, grasping side of human nature. They bring an element of humour to a dark story without dipping too far into caricature.

Young locals Duncan Price and Isla Palmer are tonight’s Gavroche and Little Cosette. Both only nine years old, they have demanding roles yet seem to fill the stage with their presence: Palmer as the wide-eyed, sweet-voiced Cosette and Price as the brave and cheeky urchin Gavroche.

Without the stunning ensemble, Les Misérables is only a shell of a show. These dynamic performers clearly invest all of themselves into their characters, whether students, tavern-goers, prostitutes or prisoners. They fill the stage, each a unique presence, faces animated with emotion: a delight to watch. Their exceptional voices soar and are superbly complemented by the excellent live orchestra under the direction of Richard Marrett.

The costumes are impeccable. Diane Brodie QSM has outdone herself with the level of detail and professionalism that has gone into every piece, whether simple nightgown or military uniform. The lighting design is likewise excellent; moody and evocative, particularly in the sewer scene. I do find it too dark at times – some greater variation would take it from excellent to perfect.

As my companion and I walk out of the theatre – after a tumultuous applause and well deserved standing ovation – I hear someone behind me remark “What is it about this story that English-speakers love so much?” I would have to argue that it’s less the 19th Century Paris setting and more the eternal themes of striving against injustice, the idealism of youth, the plight of the poor and the redemptive power of love, combined with some of the most powerful and memorable songs ever written, that you can’t help but keep singing to yourself long after the show is over.

We know you have been wanting to know so here it is… the performance schedule for the actors playing young Cosette, Eponine and Gavroche in the 2018 Showbiz Christchurch Saunders & Co Season of Les Misèrables

Please note: Showbiz Christchurch reserves the right to amend this performance schedule should circumstances dictate a change.

Arawyn Allan-Griffiths

Arawyn Allan-Griffiths

Isla Palmer

Isla Palmer

Lavinia Sutherland

Lavinia Sutherland

Ethan Carranceja

Ethan Carranceja

Duncan Price

Duncan Price

Daguerreotype panorama of Paris, circa 1846

Ladies and gentlemen, it is indeed my great pleasure to welcome you to the show of tonight, Les Misérables

Victor Hugo’s literary masterpiece was set against the backdrop of the June Revolution of 1832 (not the big one of the 1790s where everyone got their heads chopped off). Although there is no direct translation of the title, it is generally translated as “The Wretched” and focussed on the impoverished in Paris at the time. It turned Hugo into a national hero and his funeral in 1885 resembled that of Eva Peron.

In 1980, the book was turned into a musical which swept France in typical Gallic revolutionary spirit, only to be pilfered by the English (much like Calais) into undoubtedly one of the greatest musicals of all time. Certainly, it is in my personal top five.

This is now the third time that we have stage Les Mis. The first in 1994 was quite a watershed moment for us, as it was the first to be produced under a national Consortium model which has been so successful since. We put 33,000 people through the ITR, which is, so far as we can determine, the third largest season in the theatre’s history. And judging by the public response to this production, Les Mis remains as fresh and vital as the first time around.

The on-going support of our numerous industry partners and business sponsors is vital and hugely appreciated, in particular our major funders the Christchurch City Council, the Rata Foundation, Mainland Foundation, Lion Foundation, Christchurch Music Theatre Education Trust and, in particular, our first annual sponsor, Saunders and Co.

Most importantly, we would like to acknowledge the ongoing support from you, the theatre lovers of Christchurch – our lifeblood.

Please enjoy the show.

Markham Lee
President

Panoramic view of Paris, France, c. 1846. By Friedrich von Martens.

Reviewed by Georgia Kate Heard, What’s Up Christchurch

Showbiz Christchurch has taken on their biggest challenge yet, bringing the epic Les Miserables to the Isaac Theatre Royal. Their bold move has paid off, according to self-proclaimed Les Miserables fan Georgia Kate Heard, who felt our local talent brought a Broadway standard performance to a Christchurch stage. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to “hear the people sing”!

Les Miserables is a musical that needs no introduction.

This couldn’t have been more evident than when the curtain lifted on The Isaac Theatre Royal stage revealing the iconic image of a man passionately waving the red flag of revolution, bathed in the colours of the French flag. That single image of a man, accompanied by the rousing, full bodied sound of a live orchestra, was a promise to the audience. A promise that the Les Miserables we know and love is going to be honoured, celebrated and given the professional treatment, that a musical of this magnitude deserves.

This stirring opening tableau was so instantly recognisable it felt like rushing to embrace a long lost and dearly loved relative. This iconic stage picture was enough to elicit spontaneous, excited audience cheers, before the show had really begun!

I have never experienced such tangible audience anticipation in a New Zealand theatre-going experience. In my time seeing musical theatre on Broadway, I regularly encountered impassioned American punters applauding as the curtain lifted on a popular musical. The Broadway crowd were often hooting and hollering for the celebrity that they were eagerly awaiting. As this more reserved Christchurch audience began cheering, it struck me that we too were eagerly anticipating a celebrity, the celebrity being the musical giant that is Les Miserables!

I will openly proclaim that Les Miserables is my favourite musical of all time. Therefore my expectations and demands on what I needed from this production were sky high. To my relief and astonishment Showbiz Christchurch more than delivered on their promise; they exceeded my highest expectations!

Showbiz Christchurch are going from strength to strength. Showbiz has become synonymous with world class musical theatre, right here in Christchurch. This epic tale of a Parisian revolutionary, reborn in musical form to become one of London’s longest running and most popular shows has been translated into 21 languages and toured 42 countries, and now the talented thespians and singers of Otautahi have transported the magic and passion to the Isaac Theatre Royal. The Showbiz team proved once and for all they are producing shows of an international standard.

Showbiz Christchurch’s Les Miserables is simply superb. The dynamic duo of Director Stephen Robertson and musical director Richard Marrett are as iconic in staging musical theatre as the popular musicals themselves. Robertson has directed Les Miserables three times for Showbiz Christchurch and this feels like the finely tuned, assured accomplishment of a man who lives and breathes musical theatre. The sound that Marrett achieves with both the orchestra and the performers is second to none. The orchestra sound like a perfectly choreographed dance, that is a show within itself. The sound achieved on stage, in particular the male chorus, is breathtaking. The powerful and passionate, sound of the male ensemble on more than one occasion literally made my bottom jaw drop, and there is no greater compliment from me.

In such a slick, polished production, where every element hit the right note, its incredibly hard to single out individual performances and accomplishments. But for me there were some standouts who cannot go unmentioned.

Ben Freeth initially felt like unusual casting for the role of Thenadier, the crooked and devilish inn keeper, or master of the house. However Ben completely won myself and the audience over, with his corrupt, contorted characterisation. I couldn’t take my eyes off his full body commitment to this character, where every fibre in Ben’s body, right down to his fingers were fizzing with the twisted energy of this watchable villain.

Kira Josephson’s moving portrayal of the smaller, but deeply memorable role of the devoted mother Fantine, is stunning. Kira’s performance of “I dreamed a Dream” completely embodied the overwhelming theme of suffering and sacrifice. If you didn’t feel something while watching her pour her heart into that part, I suggest you might be emotionally moribund!

Daniel Belle as the protagonist Valjean largely carries the weight of the show’s success on his back. Daniel is a gift to Christchurch audiences and his portrayal of this iconic character is not to be missed. What Daniel achieves with this hugely vocally demanding roll, is nothing short of a tour de force of singing! During Daniel’s delicate falsetto notes in the haunting melodies of “Bring Him Home”, you could have heard a pin drop.

Marius the romantic male lead, played by Fergus Inder was everything you crave from this role; tender, dreamy, every note nailed, emotionally rich and handsome to boot.

Jack Fraser as Enjolras packed a hugely powerful punch. Jack’s impeccable diction and clear vibrant tone cut through the smoke-haze filled air like vocal bullets.

James Foster (Javert) received a huge applause after every song, and deservedly so. His rich and centred tones were a steady, regimental metronome for the show. He played the role with sincerity and layers of depth that are often missed in this part.

I never like to single out favourites, but nine year old Duncan Price, all but stole the spotlight in his scenes, playing the cheeky, endearing Gavroche! I can guarantee that on this opening night, a star was born! Jack tread the boards of that stage with the confidence, courage and conviction of an experienced man, well beyond his years. I was completely blown away by Jack’s natural acting ability and comic timing. This young man is one to watch!

Allan Lees Oam’s set is a wonder to behold, and Grant Robertson’s atmospheric lighting, compliments it perfectly.

Les Miserables is a timeless tale, with classic themes of redemption, greed, betrayal, camaraderie, enduring love, and sacrifice. There is something for everyone in this show. It has no musical theatre fluff; all the fat has been trimmed and all that’s left is a piece of prime theatre to experience.

The opening night received a full standing ovation, with many, including myself and even the discerning elderly gentlemen in front of me, wiping away tears from their eyes.

“To love another person is to see the face of god”. I can’t think of a more relevant message, in any time, than love and acceptance of our fellow man. This show is a hugely impactful glimpse into the human experience and a glorious production that deserves no empty chairs!

The 2018 Showbiz season comes to an epic conclusion in September with Les Misérables – the third staging of this popular musical in the organisation’s 80 year history, and also the third to be directed by leading NZ musical director Stephen Robertson.

As part of the inaugural NZ Theatre Month this September – a nationwide festival celebrating New Zealand theatre and the people involved in making it – Showbiz Christchurch is delighted to present their first Audio Described Performance and Touch Tour of Les Misérables. This is a ticketed event for a limited number of visually impaired patrons and their companions during a public performance.

Winner of over 100 international awards and seen by over 65 million people worldwide, Les Mis’ popularity is undisputed but Showbiz wasn’t sure if it would also be a good candidate for an audio described performance.

“We consulted extensively with the Blind Foundation to make sure ‘Les Mis’ would work for their clients,” says Showbiz’s Marketing Manager, Wendy Riley. “Foundation Recreation and Volunteer Coordinator Petronella Spicer is an avid theatregoer so we asked her to review the show and give us her opinion. Once we got the greenlight from her we felt confident in moving forward with the performance.”

NZ Opera have previously audio described their productions of Madam Butterfly and Tosca at the Isaac Theatre Royal. Showbiz Christchurch’s production of Les Misérables is believe to be the first musical to be audio described in the South Island.

Showbiz has engaged the services of a professional audio describer Rachel Sears who has been instrumental in championing accessible theatre. Sears will spend around a week watching rehearsals and preparing for the audio described performance on Sunday 23 September. She will describe the visual aspects of the show live to audience members fitted with headsets that enable them to also hear the live performance. The audio describing equipment is provided by Christchurch company BounceNZ who are industry leaders in theatre sound operation.

Theatregoers who attend the audio described performance will also be able to take a backstage ‘Touch Tour’ prior to the show, so they can understand the makeup of the set, props, costumes and the physical nature of the actors before they attend the performance.

Public Open Day

Showbiz also has plans to open up the doors backstage on Saturday 22 September so members of the general public can gain rare access and insight into what it takes to stage a large Broadway-style musical. Tour numbers are limited and tickets will cost $10, proceeds from which will go towards offsetting some of the costs of providing the Audio Described Performance and Touch Tour.

The Isaac Theatre Royal will also open the foyer from 11am to 4pm to view dynamic displays that chart the history of the theatre and some of the stage productions, and catch a glimpse of Les Misérables set from the auditorium.

“These initiatives are part of the journey to make Showbiz Christchurch productions more accessible to a wider audience” says General Manager Michael Bayly.

Audio Described Performance and Touch Tour of Les Misérables:

  • 4pm, 23 September 2018
  • Information and tickets phone Showbiz Christchurch (03) 377 7954.

Les Misérables Public Backstage Tour:

  • 22 September 2018. Tour times: 10:30am, 11:00am, 11:30am, 12 noon and 12:30pm.
    Each tour takes 45 minutes.
  • The Isaac Theatre Royal foyer will also be open from 11am – 4pm.

Les Misérables:

  • Opens 14 September 2018
    Isaac Theatre Royal

Great drama never gets old

The 2018 Showbiz season comes to an epic conclusion in September with Les Misérables. Winner of over 100 international awards and seen by over 65 million people worldwide, Les Misérables is a grand and uplifting story about the survival of the human spirit. This modern classic is based on Victor Hugo’s novel and features one of the most memorable scores of all time proving that great drama never gets old.

Directed by Stephen Robertson, with musical direction by Richard Marrett, this is a new production of Alan Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s Les Misérables. It will feature the set from the 2001 Showbiz production – including the famous revolve – all of which has undergone major refurbishment.

This will be Robertson’s third time directing a Showbiz production of ‘Les Mis’, and each time he manages to breathe new life, and reach new heights, with the show he has come to love and know so well.

“Les Mis is big and majestic and directed like musket shot to your heart” said Christchurch Star reviewer Barry Grant of the 2001 production. The 1994 production was no less spectacular and holds the record as the largest musical ever staged by Showbiz, with the season of 33,500 seats sold out before opening night. It is the third longest running musical performed in the history of the Isaac Theatre Royal behind the J.C. Williamson production of My Fair Lady in 1962 and the 1975 production of Jesus Christ Superstar starring Jon English.

Sydney Tenor Daniel Belle will perform Jean Valjean, a role he has performed ‘hundreds of times’ previously.

In this new production Sydney born tenor Daniel Belle will be performing the principal role of Jean Valjean, the man at the heart of the story.

In nineteenth century France, Valjean is released from 19 years of unjust imprisonment and finds nothing in store for him but mistrust and mistreatment. He breaks his parole in the hope of starting a new life, initiating a lifelong struggle for redemption relentlessly pursued by police inspector Javert.

Belle has performed the role ‘hundreds of times’ in the Australian National production of Les Misérables, and in the Asian tour performing in Manila, Singapore and Dubai.

In June he performed at the Isaac Theatre Royal as part of the internationally acclaimed vocal group The Ten Tenors, which he joined in 2012 after completing studies at The Sydney Conservatorium of Music and the Australian Institute of Music. Performing in the Ten Tenors Double Platinum tour, Daniel has sung throughout Australia, Europe and The United States to critical acclaim.


Performing alongside Belle are seasoned Showbiz performers: James Foster (Javert), Kira Josephson (Fantine), Fergus Inder (Marius), Jacqueline Doherty (Cosette), Jack Fraser (Enjolras), Ben Freeth (Monsieur Thénardier) and Monique Clementson (Eponine). Making her Showbiz debut is Nelson performer Rebecca Malcolm in the role of Madame Thénardier.

98 children auditioned for the roles of young Cosette, young Eponine and Gavroche who will be played by five alternating performers.

Eight year old Duncan Price and 11 year old Ethan Carranceja (Southern Ballet) will perform in the role of Gavroche. Nine year old Lavinia Sutherland and eight year old Isla Palmer (Anna Lee School of Dance) will alternate the role of young Cosette. All are new Showbiz performers with previous performance training and/or experience. The role of young Eponine is currently still being cast.

The ensemble consists of: Mitchell Anderson, Samuel Baird, Katie Beer, Liam Braithwaite, William Burns, Sam Burt, Philippa Chilvers, Roz Ellis, Paul Fidow, Jack Hanrahan, Catherine Hay, Simon Heeringa, Anna Henderson, Bryony Jamison, Andrea Koorey, Jack Marshall, Tara Martin, Laurel Rose, James Shera, Claire Steel, Chris Symon, Lorraine Turner, Chris Walker, Matilda Wickbom & Elliot Wood.

The Saunders & Co Season
Showbiz Christchurch production of
Les Misérables

Opens 14 September 2018
Isaac Theatre Royal

A musical by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg
Based on a novel by Victor Hugo
Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg
Lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer
Original French text by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel
Additional material by James Fenton
Adapted and originally directed by Trevor Nunn and John Caird
Orchestrations by John Cameron
Original London Production by Cameron Mackintosh and The Royal Shakespeare Company
Licensed exclusively by Music Theatre International (Australasia) and Cameron Mackintosh Ltd.
All performance materials supplied by Hal Leonard Australia.

Tickets available online through Ticketek or by phoning: 0800 842 538