A long time ago, when I was a very young girl (well, not that young, and probably old enough to know better), I thought musicals were great. All of them. While other girls my age were lusting over Take That, me and some of my friends (who shall remain nameless to protect their pride) were singing along to Michael Ball and knew all the harmonies in The Sound of Music.
I have grown wiser since then. I've realised that Michael Ball is cheesy, that the lyrics of Miss Saigon don't scan and that making millions by turning the story of Jesus Christ into a piece of light entertainment is inappropriate to say the least. But I haven't abandoned my love of musicals completely. I'm just more selective about what I like.
One of the musicals that I not only still like but also appreciate as a work of art is Les Misérables, so when my friend and I saw that it was coming to the Théâtre de Châtelet, we decided to buy tickets straight away. The French are not that into musicals (the only one that has enjoyed long-running success here is, bizarrely, The Lion King) and although the original version of Les Misérables was in French, it was only when Cameron Mackintosh's English language production opened in London that it became a huge success. The version playing at Châtelet is in English, with French subtitles, although a French translation of the English version also exists.
The production is amazing. Somehow, the show's creators have managed to distill Victor Hugo's 5 volume novel into a couple of hours of theatre and still convey both the essentials of the story and the complexity of the characters. The scenery and use of special effects is also innovative without being too obviously technical for the story.
As an added bonus, if you go out to the theatre terrace during the interval of the evening performance, you can drink a glass of champagne while watching the sunset over Notre Dame, the Théâtre des Halles and the Tour Saint Jacques. Definitely an experience not to be missed!