It is at his factory where he first encounters Fantine, one of his factory workers who loses her job when the others discover the existence of her illegitimate daughter Cosette. Through her struggle to provide for her daughter she slowly slips into the disgraced depths of society and eventually succumbs to tuberculosis.
Valjean chances upon her one fateful night prior to her demise and realizes he is partially to blame for her situation. At her deathbed he vows to care for her child and bring her up as his own. Valjean finds Cosette and rescues her from the abusive couple who have taken her in.
Nine years later there is unrest in Paris and a revolution lead by students begins. Cosette falls in love with the student Marius who is part of a barricade that blocks a major street. Javert infiltrates the student barricade and is discovered by Valjean who has arrived at the barricade in search of Marius. Valjean is given the opportunity to do away with Javert but releases him instead. Javert struggles with Valjean's mercy and throws himself off a bridge.
Matt Kinley's scene and image design and Paule Constable's lighting were brilliant. When it came to Javert's suicide scene it wasn't clear how they were going to pull that off. Without spoiling the scene for viewers, suffice to say the audience burst into uproarious applause before the scene was completed.
Andreane Neofitou's costumes truly captured the essence of the characters and the hair and make-up worked well together to round the characters off.
If there was one thing that one might choose to criticize, it would probably be the sound levels. Mick Potter's sound design itself was fantastic, and the music was exceptional, but at times it was difficult to hear the singing over the volume of the orchestra, even though the performers were wearing microphones.
Les Misérables is a must see for musical theatre and is well worth the price of admission. It's an emotional journey that will fully engage you from beginning to end. The music and the story are both so moving it may be difficult to hold back the tears. If you think it might get you, bring an extra hankie and go with it: it's part of the experience, and a lovely one you'll remember for a very long time.
For tickets check out the Queen Elizabeth theatre.