Friday, June 8, 2012

The Music of a People: The Songs of Les Miserables - Part Two

{In case you missed it, hop over here and read part one.}

Do You Hear the People Sing-

Do You Hear the People Sing? - Enjolras and company
Eeep! This song reminds us just how much we love Ramin Karimloo - er, we mean Enjolras. "Do You Hear the People Sing" could be called the theme of Les Miserables. In a way, it pretty much sums up the entire story. Enjolras and his friends sing it once, and then this fabulous song ends the entire concert, with the entire company belting out their hearts, inviting us to join their crusade.

The first time we hear this song, we fairly melt with awe. Enjolras sings with such passion and intensity as he speaks of freedom and unity. "Do you hear the people sing, singing the song of angry men. It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again!"

Yes.  We agree.
We simply cannot get over Ramin Karimloo from the 25th as Enjolras. He's everything we could have ever imagined Enjolras to be. His portrayal of Enjolras is so intense that we truly do want to join in his crusade, be strong, and stand with him.

In My Life-

We are seriously, seriously annoyed by Judy Kuhn’s performance (10th) in this song.  Her voice is quite beautiful, but she shows little or no emotion as she sings her only sorta-solo, and we’re left with a feeling of disappointment.  (And is it just us, or do other people keep expecting her to burst into “Just Around the Riverbend” when she sings “So many things unclear… so many things unknown”?) Katie Hall (25th), on the other hand, does an excellent job of making Cosette—dare we say it?—almost likable in this song. 

Unfortunately, Katie Hall’s performance is tainted somewhat by the appearance of Guess Who.  Nick Jonas’s voice is disgustingly weak in this song, but it’s his never-changing facial expression that really bugs us.  He’s supposed to be fantasizing about the girl he loves (and has loved for three entire hours) but instead he looks like someone punched him in the stomach.  And though Michael Ball does an excellent job, this song (and the one following) are two in which we heartily dislike Marius no matter who’s playing him.  Temporarily, that is.

In My Life - Cosette, Eponine and Marius.  Sob.
However, Samantha Barks saves the song with her incredible acting.  Lea Salonga’s voice is incomparable in 10th, but Samantha Barks completely owns this song.  We’re left with huge lumps in our throats when she stares brokenly after Marius as he goes to join Cosette.  “In my life, there’s been no one like him anywhere, anywhere where he is.  If he asked… I’d be his.”

A Heart Full of Love-

A Heart Full of Love - Marius and Cosette (10th)
WehateMarius, wehateMarius, wehateMarius, wehateMarius...

Okay, okay, maybe not hate exactly, but it's hard not to when he's being such a shallow coxcomb at this part. "A Heart Full of Love" is actually a sweet song, but Marius and Cosette both are so enraptured with each other after just one incidental meeting that it's almost cheesy. But those kinds of thoughts immediately dissipate as soon as Eponine steps into the picture. Her hopelessness and despair instantly makes the song absolutely gorgeous, heartrending and tear-worthy. Marius and Cosette are proclaiming their undying love for each other with Eponine watching from the background. It's awful. And then in the 25th, Marius and Cosette kiss at the end. Right. In. Front. Of. Eponine. We truly most sincerely despise Marius at that point.

We really like both versions of this song. Of course, the 10th stars Michael Ball, and Michael Ball is Michael Ball, no matter what sort of lovestruck imbecile he's playing. Judy Kuhn as Cosette is pretty annoying, although she sure can sing. Lea Salonga as Eponine, well, there's no need to continue those ravings, right? From the 25th, we love Katie Hall's performance as Cosette. She almost makes Cosette likable (emphasis on almost). And Samantha Barks as Eponine just kills us. Her pained facial expressions are perfect; she almost looks like someone stabbed her in the gut, which is exactly what Marius is doing to her. Samantha nails the emotion. That's probably our only complaint with Lea Salonga in the 10th; she makes Eponine look pouty.

Then, of course, there's Sir Twerp-a-lot. We really should stop making fun of him, as it's evident the poor boy has no lungs and therefore it's not his fault. But c'mon. SERIOUSLY. This is how Michael Ball sings it: "A heaarrttt fullllll of lovvvvvveeee" in a swoon-worthy voice that makes us want to, well, swoon. Now Nick Jonas: "A heart. Full. Of love," with a look of utter agony on his face. No, people. Just no. Um, did he forget he's supposed to be in love?

A Heart Full of Love - Cosette, Marius and Eponine (25th)
Attack on the Rue Plumet-

Eponine finally gets her chance to shine—and we cheer our heads off! Samantha Barks does a great job in this exciting, intense scene, but more of the original song lyrics are included in Lea Salonga’s version (10th).  Plus, Lea frankly screams better.  “I’m gonna scream, I’m gonna warn them here!”  We really have to hand it to Eponine.  Who knows what her slimebucket of a father might have done to her for daring to spoil his robbery attempt?  Yay Eponine!

Attack on the Rue Plumet - Eponine

Alun Armstrong also does a better job of this scene in 10th than Matt Lucas does in 25th.  While Matt Lucas comes across as gross and annoying, Alun Armstrong really seems quite menacing when he threatens Eponine.  “You heard, my girl! You’ll rue this night! I’ll make you scream—you’ll scream all right!”

Attack on the Rue Plumet - Marius
And yet again, we have to do a facepalm over Marius.  He comes bouncing out of the shadows to congratulate Eponine on saving the day once more, but before her delight can even register, he’s zoomed over to “dearest Cosette” and is completely ignoring poor Eponine once again. Grrrrr.

One Day More-
One Day More
*Petie and Amy put their faces in their hands and wail* URGH. This is such a tough choice. Both versions are just so doggone epic. "One Day More" is the finale to the first act of Les Miserables, and wow, what a finale it is! This song could very well be the best song from the whole concert. It's hopeful, emotional, heartbreaking, and triumphant.

The 25th
As hard as it is, we choose the 10th for the best performance of this song. The main reason? Michael Ball, peoples. We've said it before, and we'll say it again: you can hear him over every single other person in that entire ensemble. "I did not live until todayyyyyy!!!" Nick Jonas in the 25th just cannot compare. And we also find it hilarious that Valjean and Javert share a mic in the 10th. :)

But we can't forget two major things from the 25th version of "One Day More."
1) Ramin Karimloo is Enjolras. DUHHHHH.
2) Gavroche is up on Combeferre's shoulders! How cute is that?

*fangirly giggles* Have we mentioned how much we love Enjolras/Ramin?
There he is with his trusty rifle and of course the Red Vest of Power
and Awesomeness!

On My Own-

Okay, first of all let’s give a huge round of applause to Samantha Barks for doing such a lovely job with this song in 25th.  *applause*

And now that that’s out of the way, we can begin to gush over Lea Salonga’s version in 10th.  We are really big fans of Lea Salonga, a fact you may or may not have guessed already.  She has such a gorgeous voice and incredible stage presence (peoples, she IS Eponine) and all of her songs in Les Miz are pretty close to perfect.  But if she had never done “In My Life” or “Little Fall”, we would still be huge fans, because she absolutely owns “On My Own”.  (Hmm.  That definitely sounded redundant.)

Lea Salonga, on her own.  *spontaneous applause*

“In the rain, the pavement shines like silver.”  It’s Lea Salonga’s voice that shines like silver (if voices shine, that is—do they?).  The pathos she puts into, “I feel his arms around me,” the resigned anger in, “And I know it’s only in my mind!” and the heartbreak of, “…a world that’s full of happiness… that I have never knooooooown!” break us every single time.  “I love him, I love him, I love him—but only on my own.”

Javert's Arrival/Little People-
Javert's Arrival/Little People - Gavroche
This song just makes us grin. Javert is pretending to be a sympathizer for the revolutionaries, but who should come along and expose him for the police officer he truly is? Yep, smart little adorable Gavroche, in all his cocky-cute self. "It only goes to show what little people can do."

We love Robert Madge from the 25th. His expressions are so endearing, and he's so proud of himself. And at the end of the song, he gives this awww-worthy, cheeky smile. Bravo! We only wish 25th had included the full lyrics of "Little People" the way 10th did.  Sigh.

Night of Anguish/ Drink With Me-

“Marius.  Rest.”  Enjolras reaches out a hand to stop Marius as he turns blindly away after Eponine’s death.  He puts a hand on Marius’ shoulder, an awkward gesture from a young man unaccustomed to sentimentality, but a testimony to Enjolras’ concern for his friend.   (We prefer Ramin Karimloo overall, but Michael Maguire’s portrayal of this seemingly insignificant event is much more touching.)

Drink With Me - Grantaire and company
Grantaire steps forward to lead the Friends of the ABC in one final song together.  “Drink with me, to days gone by.  Can it be you fear to die? Will the world remember you when you fall? Can it be your death means nothing at all?” Hadley Fraser’s Grantaire in 25th is so much more memorable (and pitiable—do please tell us we’re not the only ones who cry over him) than the whatshisname dude in 10th, and the 25th version of this hopelessly tragic song is by far our favorite.  If it weren’t for Nick Jonas’ squeaky, “Would you weep, Cosette, for me?” at the end, that is.  (It’s a good question, though…)

Bring Him Home -
Bring Him Home - Valjean
Ohhhhh, wow. Can we just fall over in ecstasy from the sheer gorgeousness of this song? Valjean is pouring his heart out to God, offering his life in exchange for that of Marius (the dirty, selfish little twerp) all because Marius and Cosette love each other. Valjean loves Cosette and hates to give her up, but because he loves her, he wants Marius to live. Wow. Jean Valjean is truly one of the most self-sacrificing human beings on the planet.

Alfie Boe does a beautimous job in the 25th, but somehow, we can never lose sight of the fact that he's performing. Now Colm Wilkinson from the 10th, on the other hand, seems to be living it. When we watch the 10th, we're seeing Jean Valjean himself up on that stage, singing his heart out in a prayer for a boy he has no obligation to love. So "Bring Him Home" belongs to Colm from the 10th.

Dog Eats Dog/The Sewers-

One word sums up our perception of Thenardier in this song: ewwwwwwww.  This guy is gross and despicable.  The end.
The Sewers - Valjean and Marius
Moving on to a slightly more pleasant topic than that of robbing dead bodies in the Paris sewers (gag), we definitely prefer this song as it appears in the 25th. Alfie Boe actually has Nick Jonas slung across his shoulders (see, he DOES have the advantage of being little enough to be lugged around the stage) whereas Colm Wilkinson in 10th just stood there and Michael Ball was nowhere in sight.  Plus, the 10th version spends far too much time zooming in on the orchestra as they play the hauntingly sad reprise of “Bring Him Home.”  It’s lovely music… but we want to see Jean Valjean, not the bassoonist! (However, we do get cold chills up and down our spines when Colm Wilkinson sings, “Look down, Javert, he’s standing in his grave! GIVE WAY!”)

Javert's Suicide -
Javert's Suicide
Well, the title explains it all. We love how this song is like a Javert-version of Valjean's "What Have I Done." This is where Javert decides he can no longer wrestle with his utter confusion, and he can't understand Valjean's actions. He realizes he has been totally mistaken, and he is ashamed that he cannot bring himself to convict Valjean, after all these years of hunting him. "There is no way to go onnnnnnnnn!" So, you guessed it, he kills himself.

*Petie and Amy collapse into hiccuping sobs* We need more tissues. Pronto.

This song is so difficult to choose a favorite. Philip Quast puts more emotion into it, we think, and he is definitely the better singer. BUT Norm Lewis tears up, and that's a HUGE plus for us. But if you demanded we choose and threatened to come after us with Enjolras' rifle, we'll have to say Philip Quast. But it's a painfully close call.

We've been raving so much about Philip Quast, how about we give some applause to Mr. Norm Lewis? *cascading round of applause*

Every Day-

Cosette finally gets her teeny-weeny moment to shine when she comes to comfort Marius after his pathetic solo (and we mean pathetic in the best possible way). Jean Valjean is close on her heels, come to make his ultimate sacrifice and give away his little girl.

Every Day - Cosette and Marius
The harmony on his song is just gorgeous, and Judy Kuhn actually does a lovely job with Cosette’s part in 10th. “Don’t think about it, Marius, with all the years ahead of us…” The real credit for making this song amazing, however, has to go to Colm Wilkinson and Michael Ball (cough, cough). Believe us, nobody can beat the way they sing, “She was never mine to keep”… “Cosette, Cosette!”

Though Alfie Boe sings beautifully in the 25th version, we’re for 10th all the way—Marius and Cosette’s kiss in 25th was anticlimactic, and did we mention that Colm and Michael are the best of the best?

Valjean's Confession (25th only) -

Valjean's Confession - Valjean
Ooohhh... we are having to hold each other back from leaping through the screen and strangling Marius within an inch of his life. Valjean is telling Marius everything (hence the "confession" part of the title) about his past, about Cosette, and about his true identity, once again being willing to separate himself from his precious Cosette in order to spare her from shame. And Marius, not wanting to spoil his own reputation, allows Jean Valjean to walk away from his life forever. Marius, this is the part where we glare at you and dislike you temporarily. BEWARE OUR ANGRY EYES.

Of course, we like the 25th version of this song because, well, it's only in the 25th version. :) Funny how that works... Alfie Boe does a beautiful job, and Nick Jonas is, well, Nick Jonas, standing there in all his five-foot-tall glory with his ever-present pout. (Okay, so maybe he's not that short, but sometimes he sure looks like it.)

Wedding Chorale/Beggars at the Feast-

Ring out the bells upon this day of days! No matter what our feelings for Marius and Cosette as a couple may be, nobody can keep from wanting to scream and shout and jump up and down when they finally wed. Sadly, the 10th concert doesn’t include the wedding (except for the chorale at the beginning) and leaves out the Thenardiers’ party-crashing, which is a real shame because that’s an important element of the story. Plus, we would have paid good money to see Michael Ball punch out Alun Armstrong. (Disclaimer: we have nothing personal against Alun Armstrong.)

Wedding Dance - Marius and Cosette (apologies for the poor quality!
They were moving so fast it was hard to get a good screencap)
The 25th version of this song really wins by default—Cosette’s wedding dress is breathtaking and the chorus’ jubilant song sweepingly beautiful, but Marius and Cosette’s so-called wedding waltz rather resembles two little kids playing see-who-can-get-the-dizziest.

Beggars at the Feast - Mme. and M. Thenardier
As for Beggars at the Feast, the sleazy Thenardiers’ last appearance, the applause goes unquestionably to the 10th version. Alun Armstrong beats Matt Lucas any day.

Is Les Miz week almost done already? How tragic…
We’ll see you tomorrow!
~ Petie and Amy


Anonymous said...

As you said on my blog..... SQUEEEEEEEEEE.
The end. :)

Miss Woodhouse said...

Why, why, why did you leave out 'A Little Fall of Rain'? It's my favorite song!

Miss Dashwood said...

We didn't leave out "A Little Fall of Rain"-- we went into great detail about it in the Marius post! :D

Miss Melody Muffin said...

I've seen both the 10th and the 25th versions of Do You Hear The People Sing now and I have to say that for me, Michael Maguire and Ramin Karimloo tie as Enjolras. Now, my opinion MAY change after I read the book and see the full concerts, but as things stand now, that's what I think. I like Maguire's voice better, but Karimloo does act with such passion and I like it when an actor POURS themself into a role like that.

And both versions do make me want to join with them then and there!!!!

Miss Dashwood said...

Miss Melody Muffin,
Michael Maguire DOES have a phenomenal voice, and for a while I had an incredibly hard time choosing between him and Ramin Karimloo. But I honestly think RK completely inhabits the role of Enjolras and brings him to life in a way MM didn't... so he's my favorite. :D

Alexandra said...

ACK! I'm so behind! What one day of being-gone-all-day-and-not-getting-on-computer will do to you!!!

(hurries to catch up)

Let's see...I agree on most...except I just have to go with the 10th on A Heart Full of Love. That harmony on the last note is so perfectly crystal-clear. And Lea Salonga. And Michael Ball.


Oh, speaking of that...look for a Ramin/Sierra clip in your email. Just sayin'.

Ummm....yeah. Totally agree with everything. Lea owns On My Own. I just felt like Samantha kind of...I don't know. It was nice, but yeah. Didn't do what Lea
s did. And YES, totally. I could never quite believe that Alfie was LIVING Bring Him Home.

Onto the next post...

Anonymous said...

Busy all day yesterday, camp tomorrow... anywho, I am here to comment now!!

Ramin IS Enjolras. The End.

My thoughs exactly on 'In My Life.' : ) And Eponine's last little part... *sob*

You hate Marius? Hmmm... I dislike him a lot. And I think I have to go with both versions, too, because there are things I like and don't like in both versions. : P

'Attack on Rue Plumet' - same. : )

The 10th for 'One Day More' - umm... yeah, I think I'm going to have to say that, too. Javert and Valjean sharing a mic... heehee!!! And those two things - yes, totally agree - epicly awesome and SO CUTE!!!

Applause for Samantha, then that's out of the way... ha! Definitely. I'm sorry, but Samantha didn't do NEARLY as good. *sobs as she reads paragraph with the lyrics* Great. Now I have to go listen to both versions again.

YES!! LOVE Robert's version of 'Little People.' Love it. And the last lyrics... they save them for when he dies. ARGH!!!

*sobs* I love this song. Love it. AND HADLEY FRASER AND RAMIN KARIMLOO!!! WOOT!! This song would be SOO much better if Nick hadn't sang. I mean, if MARIUS had sung, that'd be great, but Nick had to do his impersonation of Marius, and that just ruined it. But it's still good. : )

GO COLM!!! Totally agree on 'Bring Him Home.' "IF I DIIIIIIE, LET ME DIIIIIIIE!!!" Such a better version than Alfie's.

HA!! That picture is too funny! It looked better when the mic was somewhere on him and he walked around. Heehee... And, yeah, Nick does have that advantage. *giggles* I think I like that aspect of the 25th better, but I think I like the 10th better, singing-wise.

*sob* Will whoever is bringing them tissues bring ME some?! I can't say, either. : P

Yes, 10th for "Every Day," too. : )

25th only?! That's awful. I'm going to have to find it on YouTube somewheres.

Oh, YEAH!! He does punch him out, doesn't he?! Heehee. Agree.


Miss Woodhouse said...

Miss Dashwood
Oh! I forgot about that. :)

An Old-Fashioned Girl said...

*sniffs, wipes her eyes* What a musical!