ON paper, it doesn't sound like the best concept for a musical – following the life of an ex-convict through 19th century France, against a backdrop of woe and loss.

But there is something about Les Misérables that has captured the hearts of the world, making it one of the most enduring musicals of all time – celebrating its 37th year in London's West End.

Audiences are thrown straight into the drama, with the opening chords of the prologue setting the scene for an emotionally charged evening.

All around me, people are visibly moved by the power of the epic soundtrack, with songs including I Dreamed A Dream, Bring Him Home, One Day More and, of course, Do You Hear The People Sing – all delivered with raw emotion and the most outstanding vocals. I can't find words that do justice to the commanding, yet so pure, voices of both Dean Chisnall as Jean Valjean, and Nic Greenshields as Javert.

Katie Hall as Fantine, Nathania Ong as Eponine and Paige Blankson as Cosette were equally spellbinding, and even youngsters Megan Hyne and Noah Walton as Little Cosette and Gavroche respectively were faultless.

As the tale of suffering unfolds, it's impossible not to feel the pull of this juggernaut of a show. It's been said that the themes of courage, heartbreak and the resilience of the human spirit transcend time and place. And, in today's world, parallels between the characters standing together to fight against a regime they deem unfair and the war in Ukraine make the evening all the more poignant.

It's something not lost on the cast as, following the curtain call, they urge theatregoers to scan a QR code in the foyer and donate to the DEC website.

We left feeling emotionally drained, yet uplifted by the pure magic of Les Misérables.

Les Misérables runs at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton until March 26.