Les Miz on stage

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 August, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 August, 2005, 12:00am

Peter Jordan and the Chung Ying Theatre Company have a tough act to follow. Mr Jordan, a senior drama lecturer at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, is directing a local production of the Victor Hugo classic, Les Miserables.

But he insists that it will be completely different from British impresario Cameron Mackintosh's celebrated musical version, which toured Hong Kong to packed audiences in 1998.

The lavish show opened in London 20 years ago and has been touring the world ever since.

Mr Jordan says that while the Chung Ying Theatre presentation has music, it is a drama adapted by British writer Jonathan Holloway from Hugo's epic tale of social injustice in 19th-century France.

'Although we have a lot of music, the players do not sing to build up the story,' he said. 'Instead of a large-scale production, we have only nine actors and actresses. I would say that people can come and enjoy a different version.'

Les Miserables, which was published in 1862, tells the story of Jean Valjean, who is sentenced to 19 years imprisonment after stealing a loaf of bread. Valjean commits a minor crime after his release and is hounded by the police inspector, Javert.

Valjean becomes a successful businessman after changing is name. The law is never far behind and he is soon on the run again.

But he finds meaning and love in his life when he adopts Cosette, the illegitimate daughter of one of his factory workers.

Cosette grows up and falls in love with Marius, who is wounded during a student uprising.

Valjean carries Marius to safety through the sewers of Paris. The two lovers are married and Valjean finally reveals the truth about his past.

'It is a great story about tension, frustration, desire, hope, despair, love - all about human nature,' Mr Jordan said, adding that the themes were still relevant.

'Today in Hong Kong, people still face the problem of poverty, which is perhaps even more concentrated as Hong Kong is such a small city,' he said.

Edmond Lo Chi-sun, who plays the role of Valjean, said he is feeling a bit of pressure, 'because I know that many people, including myself, liked the musical version so much.'

The non-profit Chung Ying Theatre Company promotes the dramatic arts.

Les Miserables will run in Cantonese from August 26 to September 4 at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre. Tickets priced from $100 to $160 are available at URBTIX outlets. For enquiries, visit www.chungying.com or call 25216628.