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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 5 October 2010
"In the rain, the pavement shines like silver . . ." Happy Silver Anniversary, Les Mis, bounding back more colour, incisive, and moving than ever. I attended both the historic O2 live concert and in the Barbican to see the too-short-lived 25th Anniversary Touring Production. [So perhaps I may commend the work of 3 people in the Barbican - John Owen Jones (Jean Valjean), James Earl Carpenter (Javert) and Gareth Gates (a fine Marius).]

Many other reviewers have praised the O2 cast, which included the returning 1985 cast. So let me emphasise the other glories of this production. Matt Kinley's breathtaking design loses the revolving stage, and references the art of novelist Victor Hugo (didn't know he was painterly? Neither did I.). Strong echoes, also, of misty Turner and Delacroix - all moody revolutionary tableaux, dramatically spotlit (Paule Constable, lighting). Factories, churches, windows, marvellous back-projections. And a STUNNING "coup-de-theatre" for Javert's ending.

Musically, the new orchestrations, by Chris Jahnke, Stephen Metcalfe & Stephen Brooker, add colour, depth, intensity and subtlety. They bring out the cleverness as well as lyricism of the score. And the new orchestrations fully support the lyrics, e.g., "With their voices soft as thunder" followed by an ominous, barely perceptible rolling drum (yup, thunder alright . . .) that chills you.

The singing and acting at the O2 was top-notch. Alfie Boe's operatic voice goes effortlessly to the centre of all the "money" notes, perhaps therefore not as intense as the musical-theatre singers, but with undeniable warmth. And his "Bring Me Home" was perfect. The ageless Jenny Galloway rolled back the years as Madame T., ("or I'll forget to be nice!"); Matt Lucas was in superb acting and revelatory vocal form as Thenardier.

Oh, it goes on. A life-changing, historic concert. Immediate addition to your Christmas list, everyone! (and apparently Cameron M is planning a film version. To be continued, then.)

One last word. Whatever dark and depressing aspects this work may have, whatever self-indulgence, I personally feel its abiding success is because it is all about LOVE ("How can I live when we are parted?" "Still I say, there's a way for us", etc.). Au revoir, mes amis.
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on 6 January 2011
Starting with the positives, this is a must have for all fans of Les Miserables. The music is epic and when the orchestra strike up the prologue you will get shivers down your spine. As this is a concert, I thought it would be most appropriate to draw out reviews of individual performances rather than the production although I will briefly state that the cast size is epic and the lighting is very good indeed.

Firstly, Jean Valjean himself. Alfie Boe is an amazing singer and he is truly virtuosic in his vocalisations here. I am still reserved when reviewing the acting part as when he enters a scene he always looks like he is looking at a ghost with that startled look in his eyes. He also looks like he is about to cry alot which is the audience's job. Then again, it is a concert. Nonetheless, excellently sung. However, the faster recitiative sections which dominate the opening thirty minutes can become convoluted as the operatic tenor voice Boe adopts sometimes melds together some of the diction. Bring Him Home is truly outstanding though and is probably the stand-out performance.

Norm Lewis is competent as Javert and certainly looks the part. He has a beautiful voice but there is something missing from his version of Stars. You just don't get that same tingling feeling as when you hear Philip Quast sing it. However, his suicide scene is outstanding and his scrappings with Valjean and the revolutionaries. Ramin Karimloo is one of my favourite singers and I admired his voice since seeing him live in Love Never Dies. Truly outstanding and a belter whilst seeming completely effortless. He really shines through when he is singing and is a standout performer.

Katie Hall is rather indifferent as Cosette although that is not her fault. I have never liked her character and whomever portrays her I have difficulty empathizing with. She is shrill at times but has a good voice and is appropriately cast. Sam Barks makes a superb Eponine. I was thinking where I saw her and remembered she came 3rd in ALW's search for a Nancy in Oliver (won by Jodie Prenger). Her voice is very good although her big note in On My Own is admittedly shouted. A very emotive performance with heaps of empathy, which is much needed for Eponine. You really think Marius should go with her. In fact, never have I been more annoyed at Marius for ditching her for Cosette.

Matt Lucas is very good as Thenadier and gives the character a more creepy edge. However, sometimes Lucas can be guilty of tampering too much with the narrative just to get more laughs (who can blame him, he is a comedian after all). His singing holds out well in the bantering sections between Valjean and others and Master of the House is expertly delivered. However, his voice seems weak in Dog Eats Dog (a song which requires more lyrical singing) and the song is cut shorter perhaps for this reason. Jenny Galloway as Madame Thenadier is surprisingly average in this production as she seems to allow Lucas to take over and does not seem to rise to his effort. Her voice is also out of tune sometimes which is disconcerting. Perhaps she misses Alun Armstrong or maybe she is bored of the role.

Onto the worst part about this concert, yes you guessed it from other reviews, Nick Jonas. Now I have nothing personal against Nick Jonas but he should stick to what he knows. I have not read one positive review on his performance of Marius. Empty Chairs is probably his best moment and even that is distinctly average. For such a big occassion with a splendid cast why was it ruined with this? You will immediately notice that his voice is weak. He cannot sustain notes, he sings every note in that breathy tone adopted by American pop singers and the high notes, although in tune, are only achieved by Jonas adopting a facial expression which verges on that pulled when passing a gall stone. His movements are also static and his face only has one pained expression throughout. He may have got away with it if they had not stupidly decided to make him compete vocally with Ramin Karimloo and Alfie Boe, who between them are the strongest singers in the show. It is a shame because Marius is such a pivotal role, especially in the second act, and it is sad that I cannot empathise or like him at all in this production.

Finally, one thing missing was a narrative. I am lucky to know the show quite well but to people who do not know the show, there is no explanation of the story beyond the music itself. The 10th anniversary show at least had cuts to physical actions on a screen and captions and quotations to explain the context and what was happening. Therefore, at least read the plot before watching. Although it is nice that the characters walk on the stage from backstage here rather than just getting off a chair like in the 10th. There are some pleasant additions at the end including a Valjean quartet (Boe, Wilkinson, Owen-Jones, Bowman) of Bring Him Home and the Original Cast singing One Day More. This also gives you a chance to see how Marius should be sung through Michael Ball. Sadly, Colm Wilkinson does at times come across like the old major who cannot quite sing it as well anymore but he is getting on and I still credit him for packing it full of emotion. Enjoy this and buy it if you love Les Mis. Luckily there is enough to make up for Nick Jonas' masochism of musical theatre.
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on 5 October 2010
Lost count of the number of times we have seen Les Mis in both Manchester and London (well into double figures), but this was something else at the O2 on Sunday evening. Emotional, breathtaking, exciting and memorable to say the least. Must commend Alfie Boes on his performance, his rendition of "Bring Him Home" was especially amazing and if the spotlight had not been switched off him after a minute or so, his standing ovation would have gone on for the rest of the evening!!All the artistes were outstanding, and the finale when previous cast members joined the show is something that all Les Mis fans will remember forever. Still getting goose bumps now thinking about it! However, we were sorry that Philip Quast was missing from the celebrations because in our opinion, as far as Javert is concerned he is "The Governor".

Congratulations to everyone involved in Sundays performance. You all made many thousands of people very happy. We have ordered the DVD and look forward to "re-living the moment".
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on 5 October 2010
15 years ago a friend showed me the 10th anniversary addition of this life changing show, from the first moment I heard 'I dreamed a dream', 'on my own' and of course 'bring him home' I completely fell in love with music and knew that it had to be apart of my mum made me a promise that the next big event that les mis would do she would make sure we were there, and 15 years later she came up trumps with the one of the best seats in the house, watching at the O2 was absolutly fantastic!!!! a fantastic cast with outstanding performances!!! but the absolute icing on the cake was to listen to colm wilkinson performing 'bring him home' he truly has god's gift.......well done to all cast members for creating a magical show couldn't fault any of it...and matt lucus was just hilarious!! that man has talent!! made me laugh, made me cry and made my mum act like a teenager when colm wilkinson walked onto dvd you could buy in 2010 xx
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on 4 October 2010
My daughter and I couldn't afford to go to the O2 arena but saw the concert through the satellite link at our local Vue cinema. It was a fabulous evening - dolby stereo sound, what looked like an HD picture and close ups of all the singers at they were performing. We didn't have the same atmosphere as the O2 I suppose but we applauded and cheered along with the O2 crowd and had a wonderful time. If the DVD is the same footage that we saw on the cinema screen it has to be an absolute must buy for fans. We believe we had the best view of the night - it was like being on stage with the singers, we could see everything. Alfie Boe was a revelation as Jean Valjean and deservedly received a standing ovation when he sang 'Bring Him Home'. It was a little strange seeing Lea Salonga as Fantine - brilliant singing as ever - but to me she will always be Kim from Miss Saigon and Eponine from the 10 yr anniversary performance. Ramin Karimloo as Enjolras was, we think, the best singer we have ever heard in this part, powerful voice and very expressive face. Norm Lewis as Javert, not quite Philip Quast but a fine voice. We knew we had seen Samantha Barks somewhere - she was singing Eponine's part - but we couldn't place her and then it came to us - she was in the competition for the part of Nancy on the TV reality show, "I'd Do Anything'. What a find! She was excellent. Matt Lucas as Thenardier was just superb and completely surprised me as I only knew him from Little Britain. He sang with Jenny Galloway as Madame T and they were the most awful, funny couple. They really did lift the solemnity of the show. Marius (Nick Jonas) - hmmm - have to agree that he was the one, slight weak link - all the people around us agreed but saying that, he did a credible job of 'Empty Chairs'. Don't get me wrong, he was not awful and someone said he is only 18 or so, and if that is the case, he did extremely well and I am sure his voice will get stronger if he continues in musical theatre. Or perhaps he was very good but the quality of the other singers on the night simply left him trailing a little, maybe his young fans will buy this DVD because he is in it and discover there is more to music than pop!

The finale was the original 1985 cast on stage, Colm Wilkinson, Michael Ball etc. What a night and what a stunning show, the best £15 for a ticket for 2½/3 hours entertainment that I have ever spent. This DVD is already on my Christmas wish list if I can wait that long....
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on 5 October 2010
I have been fortunate to go to a lot of shows over the years and this simply took my breath away. My hands are sore from clapping, my voice hoarse from cheering and my eyes red from crying. Incredible singing, and what makes it is the passion they sing it with - they are incredibly talented and famous yet also seemed to enjoy singing this amazing story so much and truly gave it their all.

If you love musicals, then you love Les Mis and will be buying this - my advice, yes it is as good as you imagine and way beyond - I've never seen anything like it and may never again. when the original company came out....4 valjeans together...

If you don't really like musicals, just watch this. That's all I can say. Just watch this. Your life will be changed and you will be amazed by the passion of what these incredibly talented people can do.
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on 29 November 2010
Like a number of other reviewers I have lost count of the number of times I have seen Les Miserables - I even went to see it when I was in Copenhagen (and I dont speak Danish!!) - with a show like Les Mis you really dont need to understand the language. I still remember going to see it for the first time when it first opened at the Palace (25 years - no way, I must have been about 2!!) - getting a standby ticket, sitting in the stalls and feeling that production just washing over me.

I saw the recent production at the Barbican and loved it but missed out on the concert at the O2 - but not any more. Just got the Blu Ray and all I can say is WOW.

The music is, as always, great.

The finale with a quartet of jean Valjean's is unbelievable and brought tears to my eyes.

I just want to watch it over and over again.
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on 7 January 2011
Having already set the bar high with the Les Misérables 10th Anniversary Concert at the Royal Albert Hall in 1995, Cameron Mackintosh now goes one further.

Performed within the vast arena of the O2, no expense is spared in making this the most awe-inspiring production yet seen. The stacked stage, featuring triple projection screens that look down on choir, orchestra and actors, is framed by a barricade-like web of mobile lighting platforms.

The show is performed by a (mostly) fresh and talented cast that proves equal to any that have gone before. The one exception is Nick Jonas as Marius, who is simply not in the same league. That's not to say he isn't competent, but his weaker voice and lack of eye contact are both readily apparent. Otherwise, the singing is uniformly excellent with a standout performance from Alfie Boe.

As if Boe's literally showstopping rendition of "Bring Him Home" isn't enough, the best is saved until the end when he reprises the song with three other Valjeans: Colm Wilkinson, John Owen-Jones and Simon Bowman. There is now also a recorded version available in support of Tickets for Troops. The finale also brings together the casts of various Les Mis productions for rousing encores of "One Day More" (with Michael Ball effortlessly outclassing Mr Jonas) and "Do You Hear the People Sing?" (led by members of schools' productions from around the UK).

The region-free Blu-ray is presented "as live" and includes the speeches at the end by Cameron Mackintosh and the show's authors. The picture quality is exemplary and the soundtrack is DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, which provides a fantastic accompaniment, particularly when the orchestra and chorus combine to maximum effect.
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on 14 October 2014
Since Amazon sometimes uses the same review for several different editions of both CD and Blu-ray versions, please pay attention. This review is valid only for the Blu-ray discs. There are two quite different versions: one sold as a US Import with a higher price, the other a UK edition with a bargain price. Contrary to the information given by Amazon both versions are region free. The US import is not region 1 only. You do not need extra equipment to play it. I first bought the cheaper European version but was dissatisfied because you cannot at all hear the very large (300 singers) offstage extra chorus, which is clearly visible above the orchestra. The effect is comic when you see the mouths of the chorus move but hear nothing. In the editing room the tracks of those mikes have been left out, by mistake I believe. All you hear are the soloists and smaller chorus onstage. Things like this, I agree, do not bother most people; however, for me the addition of hundreds of extra voices at the climactic moments gives a powerful additional sonic experience. In the US Import version the sound has been remixed, the volume levels on both audio channels 2.0 and 5.1 are the same. The sound is clear and vibrant with a much wider dynamic scale. The orchestra sounds thunderous at times, close to a theatrical movie version. The offstage chorus can be heard clearly. Especially in both momentous finales the difference is striking.

How to tell the two versions a part from each other except for the price? The US Import version: in the Amazon product information the studio is Universal Studios, the release date 22 Feb 2011. There are subtitles in English SDH, French, Italian, Spanish (Castellano), Spanish (Latin America), Japanese, Korean, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish, Icelandic, Dutch, Portuguese, Hungarian, Polish, Turkish, Mandarin and Kantonese. On the box the number at the bottom of the side title says Universal 61118326. The picture quality of the special features is also 1080p, like the main feature, and the special features audio is in DTS 5.1 Surround. On the back cover below the Universal logo there is a text: Universal, A division of NBC Universal. On the back cover there is an ad on a blue ribbon across the whole page saying: Perfect Picture and Purest Digital Sound Available. In this case it is true. The UK version: In the Amazon product information the Studio is given as Universal Pictures UK, the release date is 29 Nov 2010. The subtitle languages are English SDH and German. On the box it says Blu-Ray Disc 8280887 in the side title, on the backcover 8280887-11. In the special features the picture quality is 1080i and the audio is English 2.0. I now have both records, is the US import version worth the extra cost? Absolutely! For audio lovers and people who want to hear every note of Les Misérables it is a must. The acoustical experience is simply quite different. The musical and other virtues of this performance have been praised in hundreds of other reviews so I’ll only say 5 stars, absolutely fabulous.
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on 30 December 2010
Every performance (save one) was impeccable. Many of the performers rival and in some cases surpass those of the 10th Anniversary Dreamcast. Seeing the show on the big screen with a bigger sound system really made the nuances of the genius score come to life. I am thrilled that it is finally on DVD! The use of soft split screens to be able to watch multiple performers' reactions and "dialog" was a wise creative decision.

The stunning Norm Lewis, whose subtle facial expressions and genuine passion commanded the stage/screen, sang Javert with such power and depth that I actually, for the first time, empathized with his character. Alife Boe's Val Jean was brilliant, with an operatic quality. Samantha Barks shined as Eponine with a stunning vocal performance. Besides being delicious eye-candy, Ramin Karimloo was a standout with his brilliant portrayal of Enjolras. I didn't quite understand the decision of casting Nick Jonas as Marius. He really gave it his all and had some nice moments in the sweeter songs, but lacked the vocal fullness and attack for the more powerful songs. It was adequate but uncomfortably contrasted by his much stronger, seasoned cast mates.

The occasional cut to various instrumental highlights was a wonderful addition and seamlessly included the orchestra as an important part of the ensemble. The encores with the original cast, backed by a chorus of hundreds was breathtaking (particularly when Michael Ball reprised Marius in "One Day More" the way it should be sung. If you're a Les Mis fan, this movie is a must.
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