From Port Talbot to Paris: plenty to sing about in latest Les Mis
Following a sell-out run, Cameron Mackintosh’s acclaimed production of Boublil and Schönberg’s musical Les Misérables has just opened at the Wales Millennium Centre.
The new staging has been hailed “Les Mis for the 21st Century”. With scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo, the magnificent score of Les Misérables includes the songs I Dreamed a Dream, On My Own, Bring Him Home, One Day More, Master Of The House and many more.
The cast features a host of Welsh talent, including Lauren Drew from Port Talbot, semi-finalist on ITV’s The Voice UK in 2021.
Lauren was most recently seen in Legally Blonde at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, and her other theatre credits include Catherine of Aragon in the UK Tour of SIX, Heathers, Evita and Kinky Boots.
On returning to Wales, Lauren said: “I’m so excited to return to Wales Millennium Centre in one of my dream roles in one of my favourite musicals.
“I fell in love with Les Mis when I was 17 years old and was cast as Eponine in the Neath Port Talbot College production. Never did I think I would be playing Fantine professionally on stage 12 years later!
“A few years ago, I played Catherine of Aragon in SIX the Musical at WMC, and I will never forget the roar that came from all the friends, family and people who have followed my career as I ended my song.
“There was so much love and support in the auditorium, it really was an indescribable feeling that I’ll never forget. There is nothing more special than performing at home, each time becomes another career highlight and I can’t wait to make dreaming a dream a reality.”
Lauren has some favourite moments in the show. “One has to be the battle on the barricade. The lights and sound effects create a high stake, battleground feel which is so hard hitting and the actors are phenomenal!
“As an audience member, you go through so many emotions and feel as though you are fighting alongside the characters.
“Another favourite part of the show for me has always been the confrontation between Jean Valjean and Javert.
“The orchestration is immense and it’s the perfect accompaniment for the fight which is happening next to Fantine’s death bed. It’s quite a brutal, but such a powerful moment. It always sends shivers down my spine.
“Another favourite moment for me is Fantine’s transformation after she has sold herself to help provide for her daughter. You see this hopeful beacon of light slowly diminish into a shell of what she once was. Incredibly tragic but so powerful.”
The show, for all its pleasures for a performer, is not without its challenges as Lauren explains: “Les Mis is a wonderful show and written incredibly well hence its success for all these years, so as an actor being fortunate enough to be telling this story, I always want to come from a vulnerable, truthful place so that in the short time we get to meet Fantine we go on a journey with her, and we get to understand the pain, crushed hope and loss that she endures.
“That of course brings its challenges as her story is a tragic one and she goes to some very dark places, but she is driven by hope. Hope is what I like to hold onto in my interpretation of Fantine and I take that right to the bitter end of her life.”
Also starring in this production are Siobhan O’Driscoll as ‘Éponine’, Dean Chisnall as ‘Jean Valjean’, Nic Greenshields as ‘Javert’, Merthyr Tydfil-born Ian Hughes as ‘Thénardier’, Will Callan as ‘Marius’, Helen Walsh as ‘Madame Thénardier’, Samuel Wyn-Morris from Llanelli as ‘Enjolras’ and Paige Blankson as ‘Cosette’.
Seen by over 120 million people worldwide in 52 countries and in 22 languages, Les Misérables is undisputedly one of the world’s most popular musicals.
Les Misérables runs at the Wales Millennium Centre until the 14th January 2023. You can buy tickets here.
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