I had been looking forward to this day for so long! I booked the Les Mis tickets in around April – they are THAT hard to get hold of – and then Jessica, one of the ROAdies (the chosen name for the Rock of Ages fans) decided to organise a ROAdie meet-up where we’d all get together for drinks and then invade the Garrick theatre. Luckily I’d chosen to book the Les Mis matinee, so I’d be able to see the show and then go to the meet-up afterwards.
I was supposed to be going to see Les Mis with my Mum, but when the day came she wasn’t feeling up to two shows so instead she decided to rest in the hotel room for the afternoon and I took my best friend Sarah, who was also going to the meet-up, to see the show instead. Sarah is a huge Carrie Fletcher fan and, as she is currently playing Eponine in the show, didn’t take much persuading to come with me. I was more excited about seeing Tam Mutu play the role of Javert, my favourite character in the musical. I’d heard so many good things about him and I couldn’t wait to see him perform. I’d not seen the full stage performance since January 2010 when John Owen Jones played Valjean opposite Earl Carpenter’s Javert, but I did see the 25th anniversary concert at the O2 with Alfie Boe (Jean Valjean), Norm Lewis (Javert), Samantha Barks (Eponine), Lea Salonga (Fantine), Ramin Karimloo (Enjolras) and a whole host of others. It’s safe to say the London cast had a lot to live up to!
This probably isn’t going to make me very popular, but I was a bit underwhelmed to be honest. Daniel Koek played Jean Valjean and, for me anyway, he didn’t have any real authority. What he did have, however, was a very strong, very badly disguised Australian accent. Tam Mutu as Javert, on the other hand, was absolutely breathtaking. His version of “Stars” was one of the best I have ever seen and his acting during “Javert’s Soliloquy” and subsequent suicide had me in floods of tears. I was also very impressed by Anton Zetterholm who played Enjolras and of course, Carrie Fletcher. Her voice was simply spectacular and she gave such a feisty attitude to Eponine which was such a refreshing take on the role.
After lots of crying throughout the show, (if you don’t cry at least once you are made of stone) it was time to meet up with my Mum and head to the ROAdie meet-up. The actual meet up was being held at The Salisbury pub which is literally a stone’s throw away from the Garrick. When the three of us got there, there were ROAdies EVERYWHERE. I’m not even going to attempt to name them all because I know I will miss somebody out, but there is a group photo of us all at outside the Garrick at the bottom of the page!
At around 6:00pm Jess and our co-organiser Ale rounded everybody up outside the pub and we all headed over to the theatre for our pre-show surprise. Jess had remained very tight-lipped about this and none of us had a clue what was going on, so it was an awesome surprise when we were all led into the theatre before it was open to the public and told we were going to have a backstage tour! After seeing the show over 25 times it was so strange to stand up on the stage and have a peek backstage, but at the same time it was absolutely amazing and so interesting. Because there were so many of us we had to go up on the stage in two groups and this was going really well – until Nathan Amzi, Dylan Turner and Simon Lipkin appeared to see what all the noise was and all hell broke loose. Cameras were flashing in all directions as people tried to get pictures with them on certain parts of the stage – it was madness!
After we’d all had our pictures it was time for the actual show. My God we made a lot of noise. We’d had to book our tickets ourselves so there were ROAdies all over the place which resulted in a surround-sound like effect. Every time an actor came on stage they got a big cheer, the whole atmosphere was electric and definitely one of the best shows I’ve ever been to. The ROAdies had decided in advance to give the cast a standing ovation after the first act, but nobody wanted to be the first ones to stand up! We all hovered halfway between sitting and standing, glancing around to see if anyone else was going to make a move. Eventually we were all up and cheering away and all too soon it was time for the interval.
The second act was even louder than the first and by the end of the show everyone, ROAdies and non-ROAdies, were singing along to Don’t Stop Believin’, much to the amusement of the leads Ross and Natalie! As usual we all got absolutely covered in confetti by Dan Fletcher at the end, and then we made our way back up to the foyer where a handful of the cast members were collecting money for charity in costume. After taking pictures with them (and donating money of course!) we invaded the stage door. It was such an amazing atmosphere with everyone chatting away and hugging, and I really didn’t want to leave.
We’re hoping to meet up again after the show and I really hope we can make this happen because I have met some truly amazing people through this show and I’ve definitely made some friends for life. I know I said I wouldn’t do this but I have to say a big thank you to (in no particular order) Becky, Nikki, my Mum, Jus, Charlotte, Janet Eleanor, Rachel, Steph, Beth, Ali, Laura, Sarah, Emma, Sigal, Lucy, Mandy, Ann, Hope, Natalia, Bonnie, Samantha and Annie with a special thank you to Ale and Jess for organising everything and making this amazing night happen!!