Les Misérables

Just got back from finally seeing Les Misérables again, and yes it is definitely my favourite musical. It’s probably the only one I can watch over and over again – I’m quite happy to keep seeing new performers in the different roles, and to compare them to my favourites. I must admit, however, that listening to recordings made in studios is very different from listening to a real performace. A stage performance is so much more immediate, and the performer has to concentrate on both acting and singing. That said, I doubt I’ll ever have wanted to see Michael Ball as Marius…he’s probably improved since then, but most opinions I’ve read maintain that his acting was quite inferior to his singing…although his voice is magnificent. That’s the only one I will say that for though…I’d love to have seen the original Jean Valjean (Colm Wilkinson) and Eponine (Frances Ruffelle), especially the latter, whose strained final word in the OLC recording of ‘On My Own’, in contrast to the more gentle tones of the rest of the song just defined that aspect of Eponine for me. Eponine is rough, she’s had a tough life, but whilst she can never be as refined as Cosette, there is a gentle feminine side to her too, and that’s what her songs have to bring out – FR did it with just the right mix.

Yes, that does mean I’m highly biased. But I still enjoyed tonight’s show immensely. It was an entire new cast (i.e. the West End cast for the long-running shows are changed periodically – I should find out how often they change them), so I’m wondering if the performers were nervous, but it didn’t seem to show except maybe for one or two. Cornell John always seemed out-of-breath when singing Javert’s soliloquys…I felt that he was the weakest principle. But I have only seen two shows (and can’t really remember the first interpretation) – the CSR recording’s Javert is my favourite (having heard both the OLC’s and OBC’s performers too) – and if the intention was to really contrast Javert with Valjean, then this was an interesting way to show it, I suppose. Just not my taste. A couple of the others went a bit OTT at times, but I’ll place the fault more with the mic amplification than anything…seriously, I wish they didn’t have to use mics… John Owen-Jones was great as Valjean, and Hayden Tee’s ‘Empty Chairs at Empty Tables’ was pretty good too. Shaun Escoffery as Enjolras is a little…short…but he’s alright. I didn’t quite realise until today how small Enjolras’s role is though…he doesn’t even have a solo, and really leads in just one song (‘Red and Black’), even if ‘Do You Hear the People Sing?’ is what most people use to define him (he only sings the first two lines solo!). The girl who was playing the young Cosette (Lucy Brushett) really looked the part, and James Burgess as Gavroche did well (and I’ve just realised that they haven’t been (described) in the program). He didn’t managed to throw the bullets over the barricade though…pity…I’ve read about it happening once.

Well…I believe that if I move away from Australia, it’d have to be either to the States (around New York) or somewhere in Europe with cheap flights/trains to London. They’re the only places in the world where Les Mis is still running.

About karice
MAG fan, amateur translator and political scientist-in-training. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

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