Globe theatre critic Peter Grant meets Nic Greenshields - one of the stars of Les Miserables coming to the Liverpool Empire.

NIC Greenshields is looking forward to returning to Liverpool in the new 21st century production of the global phenomenon - Les Miserables.

London-born musical star Nic was last on stage in Liverpool for Disney's Beauty and the Beast back in 2001.

He remembers the stay with great affection.

Nick tells the Globe: "I recall the ever changing city, the wonderful Empire Theatre and, of course, the Merseyside audiences.

"It's a place the cast are all looking forward to coming to.

"I may even manage a bit of sight-seeing. Last time my family came to see me there they all went on a Beatle tour.

"I enjoyed staying in Hoylake, but I didn't get much time to go out and about so I will try and make up for it during the three weeks we will be on Merseyside."

He has been back to Liverpool more than three years ago for the acclaimed TV series Cilla, with filming taking place on both sides of the river Mersey.

Nic has enjoyed success in a wide range of musicals including most recently Young Frankenstein.

Now he is loving his time in the award- swamped musical monster that everyone calls affectionately Les Mis.

Nic is a firm favourite in this sure-to sell-out UK and Ireland tour.

This well-received version actually inspired the Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway film.

Trained at Laine Theatre Arts, versatile Nic clearly thrives on playing the character of the police officer Javert.

The musical gives actors like Nic a chance to shine in a vibrant multi-layered piece of theatre.

Cameron Mackintosh's much-loved production has the time-less, unforgettable score by Bourbill and Schonberg.

The musical has played to more than 50 countries across the world and in theatres from Brazil to Broadway.

Nic has played the role of the complex, flawed Javert since last October he says he is proud to be a small part of a superb ensemble cast.

Before playing Les Miserables in its entirety he had played in the concert for the 25th Anniversary at the O2 in London.

But this is his first tour in the role and he is relishing every city he has played in.

He never stops enjoying the audiences' reactions.

The music features such house-hold famous standards as I Dreamed A Dream, Bring Him Home and the soaring number Stars - sung by Javert.

Nic is thrilled that he has now been signed up for another year which will see him on stage with the company till November 2020.

He says: "Les Miserables is like Blood Brothers - it is a production that people take to their hearts.

"They come and see it time and again.

"And like that well-loved family favourite by Bill Kenwright you don't need to change it.

It is what it is.

"My mum is always been in floods of tears when she sees Blood Brothers just like those of every generation who sob at Les Miserables."

This updated version has stunning scenery inspired by the paintings of the novel's author Victor Hugo.

Nic says that his own aim in interpreting Javert is to see the obsessive French policeman gain sympathy.

"Jarvet is determined to see justice done at any cost.

"He is relentless in pursuing Jean Valjean the convict and later respected mayor who is the hero. But I don't regard Javert as an all-out baddie.

"Inspector Javert lives by the letter of the law.

"He starts off as a prison guard and is promoted and continues to see the law as it is.

"He is more than one dimensional.

"The story is universal about compassion and persecution.

"I want people to understand him and feel sorry for him.

"For Javert, life is black and white.

"I want audiences to come away feeling real sympathy for him and gave a deeper understanding of the man.

"He passionately wants to uphold the law and that is what drives him."

While he is on tour, Nic has a strict regime.

"Oh yes ... morning coffee, breakfast and then the nearest gym.

"I will catch the news ... but don't get me started on Brexit.

"I will have a nice meal and will also fit in a steam room treatment.

"That way I am ready and prepared mentally and physically in every performance to become Javert.

"It's something to look forward to returning to Merseyside on and off stage throughout October."

Les Miserables is at the Liverpool Empire from October 9-26.

Tickets from the box office on 0844 871 3017.