In our characters post, we skipped over a major character simply because we wanted to dedicate an entire post to him...
We adore Marius and we abhor Marius. We pity Marius and we loathe Marius. We're fond of Marius and we despise the mention of his name.... just in case you haven’t guessed, we have a love-hate relationship with this guy. He falls in love with Cosette after bumping into her on the street for approximately two seconds, he’s a die-hard revolutionary who fights for freedom, he’s oblivious to the fact that a starving, desperate girl is in love with him, he risks everything for those he loves, he considers his reputation more important than loving and forgiving his father-in-law, he holds Eponine as she dies, he falls at Valjean’s feet begging for forgiveness…
Yeah, sometimes we hate Marius. But he always redeems himself, and by the end, we love him again. The character of Marius is a big role to fill. He must be likable, hateable, pleasant, impassioned, pitiable, good-looking and be able to sing exceedingly well. And of course, we have staunch opinions on how this character should be portrayed. Unfortunately, this character has not always been portrayed in, shall we say, the best way possible.
Cameron Mackintosh (the producer of Les Miz, btw), for reasons best known to himself, cast 17-year-old pop singer Nick Jonas for the role of Marius in the 25th anniversary concert. We were
We don’t have anything personally against Nick Jonas. We haven’t really heard any of his pop music so we can’t objectively form an opinion about his musical abilities. In all honesty, his voice isn’t that bad. It's fairly decent, actually. (Shh, don't tell anyone we said that.) We gag whenever he opens his mouth, but that’s because we’re immature. But Nick Jonas is a bit young to be playing Marius (he's supposed to be 23), and while he never technically missed a note, his voice just isn't strong enough for the part. Compared to the rest of the company, his voice is downright weak. Sometimes we even feel the need to sit back and ponder if the boy can actually hold a note for longer than two seconds: “A heart. Full. Of Love.” No, peoples. Just no. Nick Jonas does not need a heart full of love; he needs some lungs full of air. And especially when he’s paired with the stellar Samantha Barks... well, that’s when it really becomes cringe-worthy. But we'll get to that later.
|See what we mean?|
|"I. Need. Tums. Now."|
|The Official Nick Jonas Pout|
Well… well, well, well. *Petie and Amy exchange mischievous glances and rub their hands together in glee*
Ladies and gentlemen, we will now introduce you to the sterling individual who completely and utterly OWNS the role of Marius. He speaks Marius, breathes Marius, moves Marius, IS Marius. Not only that, but he has the voice of an angel, blow-your-socks-off amazing stage presence, phenomenal acting, and killer dimples to boot.
Yep, it’s MICHAEL BALL. Ze one, ze only Marius Pontmercy. Applause, please. *Amy and Petie clap their hands over their ears to preserve their poor eardrums from the deafening cacophony of sound.*
We may very well be the biggest Michael Ball fans in the whole entire world. EVAH. In fact, we most firmly maintain that...
And now you all know what we were driving at with all those hints about puppies. This has become one of our biggest inside jokes of all time--namely, that whenever Michael Ball smiles, a puppy is born. (And all the Michael Ball fans said, “AMEN!”)
|See? A puppy!|
|Oh, and according to Petie, every time he cries a puppy dies. It's like the whole fairy thing in Peter Pan.|
There isn't, but just in case you did have a question, watch this:
(You are permitted to squeal over "my world if she's not the-heh-heeeeere...")
The finale to the first act of Les Miserables is a smashing, all-cast song titled "One Day More." And you can literally hear Michael Ball's voice over everyone else's in the entire cast, ringing out loud and true. He's got some amazing lung-power that makes Nick Jonas' voice sound like a half-hearted, withered whisper. (And all the Michael Ball fans said, “AMEN!” ... Hmm. You're probably getting tired of hearing that. Should we stop? Okay, we'll stop.)
|And another puppy...|
In this song, according to the subtitle explanation thingies on the 10th DVD, "Eponine arrives at the barricades and is fatally wounded." Brief, succinct, and to the point... but allow us to elaborate. In this song, Eponine returns to the barricades after delivering a letter from Marius to Cosette, but in the process, she gets hit by a stray bullet. "I took the letter like you said, I met her father at the door. He said he would give it-- I don't think I can stand any more..." She collapses and Marius holds her as she slips away, comforting her and promising to stay close by. She tells him she loves him... and then she dies. *Petie and Amy tell each other that they are going to be big girls and get through this--YES, THEY ARE.*
|Another puppy! Okay, okay, you get the idea.|
Frankly, the 25th “Little Fall of Rain” can’t hold a candle to the 10th. And what’s more, Nick Jonas can’t even hold a lighter to Michael Ball. You need proof? We'll give you proof.
10th's "Little Fall" is nothing short of gut-wrenching. Lea Salonga's voice is beyond gorgeous, of course, but it's Michael Ball's performance that we're here to rave about, and rave about it we will. We're also here to bash Nick Jonas's performance, and bash it we will. While Michael Ball is holding Lea Salonga close during the entire song (and that's when we totally lose it), comforting her as best he can, Nick Jonas just stands there, awkwardly making an occasional swipe at Samantha Barks' hair. Ooh-OOOH-ooh. How sweet.
You can hear the sadness and hopeless hopefuleness (yes, we made up that phrase) in Michael Ball's voice; Nick Jonas sounds like he's in dire need of some Tylenol. Michael Ball sheds actual tears at the end and Nick Jonas merely screws his face into a grimace not unlike that of a toddler preparing to throw a tantrum. Our verdict? Michael Ball wins. (Well, duh.)
Probably one of the most tragic parts of the 10th's "Little Fall" comes after the song, when Enjolras comes over to put his hand on Marius' shoulder. Though he hadn't seemed like much of a sentimental chap before, at this point Enjolras is truly sorry for his friend and is attempting to comfort him.
|*sigh* If only Enjolras would hop through the screen and comfort us |
as we sit here blubbering like two baby sea monkeys...
Nick Jonas’ portrayal of Marius is so blah that we can’t even really understand why Eponine (or Cosette for that matter) is supposed to be drawn to him in the first place. Now in the 10th, it’s obvious why Eponine falls for Marius (and we two starry-eyed Michael Ball fans go, “DUHHHH”) but in the 25th, why? Why would a girl as strong and resourceful and, yes, needy as Eponine fall for Sir Twerp-a-lot? She must have seriously been desperate.
Near the end of the second act, Marius finally gets his solo, a tearjerking ballad entitled "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables." And again, Michael Ball completely owns the song. From the first notes of "There's a grief that can't be spoken, there's a pain goes on and on," to the final strains of "where my friends will sing... no more..." he manages to keep us in perpetual tears. (It's not really a difficult task, because we're both uber-emotional when it comes to Les Miz, but that's beside the point.)
"Empty Chairs" has become one of Michael Ball's trademark songs, and rightly so. Nobody, but nobody else can sing, "Oh my friends, my frieeeeeeeeeends!" the way he can. It's that tremendously strong voice again, folks.
The 25th's version of "Empty Chairs" isn't completely ruined, however. Nick Jonas did his best to make it awful, but he couldn't succeed entirely because when Ramin Karimloo made an appearance (what more needs to be said?), the song became Awesome with a capital A. The ghosts of Marius's dead friends appear behind him as he sings in 10th as well, but the effect is not nearly as... effective... because Ramin Karimloo wasn't there.
Truth be told, Michael Ball is the whole reason we even like Marius. The Marius of the musical, that is. (We strongly encourage you all to read the book--you'll discover so much more depth in Marius!) Poor musical-Marius just doesn't get enough stage time to really develop his character, but Michael Ball manages to convey everything that matters about Marius in the limited amount of time he was given.
We've been rather mean to poor little Nick Jonas in this post, however, and we do feel a bit remorseful. So let's say something nice about him for a change, to wrap up this post. *Amy and Petie put on their Deep Thinking Caps and use them for a good forty minutes* Ooh! We've thought of something! Nick Jonas played dead exceedingly well. In fact, we greatly enjoy the scene where he’s being carried through the sewers, because he has no lines whatsoever and our ears get a bit of a rest. (Oh, and although Amy doesn't quite agree, Petie wants to point out that Nick Jonas has fabulous hair.)
Michael Ball, if you ever read this, then first of all please leave a comment because you'd make our century. Secondly, we just want you to know that we love you forever and like you for always and as long as we're living, our Marius you'll be.
So, in conclusion, peoples, Michael Ball is Marius Pontmercy. And don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise.
~ Petie and Amy
P.S. Anyone interested in purchasing an adorable puppy or two? We seem to have an abundant supply on hand.