Tuesday, June 5, 2012

My Name Is Jean Valjean: The Les Miserables Ensemble



We all know strong characters are what really make a story. And boy, oh boy, Les Miserables has a horde of amazing characters. So as you can imagine, the actors in the concerts have a lot to live up to! It's crucial that each and every role is absolutely nailed. So which concert got it the best? The 10th Anniversary or the 25th Anniversary?

Ladies and gentlemen, may we present... the characters of Les Miserables?
*Note: For brevity, henceforth we shall be referring to the concerts as "the 10th" and "the 25th."

First of all, Jean Valjean is probably the greatest 
hero ever to grace the musical theater stage.  Do not debate us on this point, or we shall be forced to do… um… something.  (Actually, if you really want to debate, hop over to the comment box and we’ll have fun refuting everything you say.  Nicely, of course.)  We won’t waste space here recounting all of Valjean’s good points (they are manifold) so if you wish to read more about him, you can check out Amy’s guest post at her sister’s blog. 


Colm Wilkinson, 10th
Alfie Boe, 25th

Now, about the different portrayals of this character… we feel that Colm Wilkinson from the 10th Anniversary Concert absolutely and utterly OWNS the role.  He’s the one and only Jean Valjean.   Alfie Boe of the 25th possesses a beautiful voice and great stage presence, but his performance lacks Colm’s raw power.  Valjean is supposed to be a hardened criminal, a man who has been embittered by years of turmoil and pain.  He changes drastically, of course, and becomes a man who understands the true meaning of forgiveness, but he’s still a tough guy.  Alfie Boe seems too squeaky-clean—there’s never a single smudge of dirt on his face.  His voice is beautiful, but we definitely prefer Colm.  “Keep Colm and Call Quast”—which brings us to…

Inspector Javert
Ah, Inspector Javert... would it freak you out if we told you he is one of our favorite characters? Yes, this guy gets a really bad rap. He's the one who doggedly pursues Valjean for the entirety of the story; he's the relentless hunter who believes in full and complete justice, no matter the cost; he's the man who will stop at nothing to see Valjean back in prison. Yet both of us have a very special place in our hearts for Javert. One of the reasons he was so intent on justice was he believed in a works-based salvation. He mistakenly believed that in order to please God and gain an eternal home, he had to work for it. "Honest work, just reward, THAT'S the way to please the Lord..."

This breaks us. He was so misled! We might very well be the only two teenage girls on the planet who cry at his suicide. Javert is so torn apart by this radical forgiveness granted him by Valjean, the man whom he hunted and pursued for years on end, that he cannot bear to live.  This is why we love Javert (morbid, we know). We honestly can't help it. And he really is an admirable character with admirable qualities: staunch determination, fierce loyalty to the law...

So now for the big question. Which actor brings the role of the infamous Inspector Javert to life?

Philip Quast, 10th
Norm Lewis, 25th
The problem with the two Javerts is that they are both fabulous. They both have incredible voices and convey the character of Javert very well. But we agree the best Inspector Javert is the 10th's notable Philip Quast. He is a big, intimidating man with an even bigger voice. A phenomenal actor, he displays the fierceness and personal turmoil of Javert. Norm Lewis is certainly commendable, but Quast does a terrific job in portraying the terrible inner struggle Javert was going through.

Fantine-
Cosette’s mother, Fantine, may be the most tragic character in the entire story.  Fired from her job because of prejudice on the part of her coworkers, left to fend for herself on the dangerous streets of Montfermeil, Fantine ultimately sacrifices everything—her possessions, her morality and eventually her life—for her beloved daughter Cosette.  Pardon us while we sob hopelessly for a moment.

Fantine is what well-bred people of her time would call a fallen woman—we won’t go into details here, but it’s sufficient to say that Fantine made some major mistakes in her life.  Yet we can’t help loving her, because Fantine’s unselfish love for her little girl is a beautiful testimony to the undeserved, self-sacrificial love that Christ has for us.  (You can read this post for an in-depth analysis of Fantine.)

Ruthie Henshall, 10th
Lea Salonga, 25th
We think that Lea Salonga from 25th did a superb job of portraying Fantine.  She brings us to tears every single time.  Her lovely voice, her superb acting… everything is spot-on.  She manages to put such depths of emotion into each and every song, especially in the scene where Javert arrests her and Valjean intervenes.  “I never done no wrong… my daughter’s close to dying.  If there’s a God above, He’d let me die instead.”

Special note from Amy:
Heehee, this is the one character on which Petie and I slightly disagree.  I absolutely love Lea Salonga’s portrayal of Fantine, but I really like Ruthie Henshall’s beautiful performance in the 10th as well.  Her voice is a little rougher than Lea’s and doesn’t quite convey as much emotion, but she still brings across the tragic character in a way that never fails to move me.  Her wig, though—eep, we won’t go there.

Special note from Petie:
I’m not a huge fan of Ruthie Henshall’s performance because 1) her hair and her dress severely bug me and 2) her voice grates on my nerves.  She has some real talent, but it’s almost like at some times, she’s trying too hard. I was very disappointed with her rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” because near the end it sounds like she’s suffering from a bad sore throat. Some might claim that it’s emotion, but it just doesn’t appeal to me.  

Eponine
Oh, dear. Just saying this girl’s name makes us tear up. Eponine is the true heroine of Les Miserables. She is strong, but vulnerable. She’s resourceful, but needy. She loves Marius, probably because he’s the first and only person in her life to show her the least bit of love and attention. She’s a desperate, starving girl who just needs somebody to love her. Are we the only ones who totally break down when Eponine sings, “Without me, his world will go on turning. A world that’s full of happiness that I have never known
?

*Petie and Amy pause for a moment to wipe away tears and pat each other comfortingly.* 

Don’t worry; we’ll be all right… in a decade or two.
(For a complete and detailed rave on Eponine, please read Petie’s post on this overlooked heroine.)

Lea Salonga from 10th
Samantha Barks from 25th
Lea Salonga from the 10th (who also plays Fantine in the 25th!) and Samantha Barks from the 25th both just blow our minds. We’ve already raved about Lea Salonga’s voice and to say that Samantha Barks is great at portraying emotion is the understatement of the year. 

So who’s better? Wellll….

Lea has the better voice, but Samantha has some terrific acting. They are both gorgeous girls, and they completely bring Eponine to life (which is, uh, ironic considering Eponine’s tragically untimely demise). So this is a character where we must say, both these actresses nailed this role. We really can’t decide who’s better. But if you twisted our arms and threatened to take away our 10th Concert CDs, then we’d have to say Lea Salonga is our favorite. But only by a little bit, mind you.  

Cosette -
Let's be honest: Cosette is a bit of an airhead. She instantly falls in love with someone she's never seen before or spoken to, and she can be pretty demanding at times (to Jean Valjean of all people! We can never forgive her for that.). Of course, we don't blame her for wanting to know about her past (wouldn't you be curious?), but still, we're not the biggest fans of her as a character. HOWEVER, she is Cosette, Fantine's treasured daughter and the child whom Valjean loves far and above his own life. So we have to love her a little bit. You know, for Valjean's sake, of course.

Judy Kuhn, 10th

Katie Hall, 25th
We are all for Katie Hall from the 25th. She just looks like how we picture Cosette: young, sweet, innocent, and maybe even endearing (IF we were prone to be endeared to Cosette... which we're not). She has a very pretty, clear, almost child-like voice, which is perfect considering she's supposed to be only 17 or 18. Katie is also a great actress; her emotions and facial expressions are very well timed and executed. Judy Kuhn from the 10th has a beautiful voice, but 1) she's WAY too old to play Cosette and 2) as such, she's not very believable at times. And most importantly, she hardly puts any emotion into the Tragic Ending Scene. Really? Jean Valjean is dying, and she doesn't seem sad at all. Ugh.

Enjolras –
How do we begin to describe Enjolras?  “Impassioned” is a word that comes to mind; “tragic”, “foolish”, “powerful” and “brave” all seem to fit him as well.  We’re both huge Enjo fans, and we cried buckets when he was killed at the barricades, both in the book and the musical.  Enjolras’ story is so sad—he had so many hopes and dreams and ambitions and was so swept up in his vision for freedom that he ended up sacrificing his own life (and the lives of his friends) for… nothing.  We have our moments of almost disliking Enjolras (like the time when he didn’t stop Gavroche from climbing over the barricade in "The Second Attack") and our moments of loving him (pretty much every time he appears).  And of course we can’t forget his Red Vest of Power and Awesomeness, which is just one more part of what makes Enjolras so wonderful.


Michael Maguire, 10th

Ramin Karimloo, 25th
Choosing a favorite portrayal of Enjolras is a hard call (isn’t that the truth for most of these comparisons?) but we have to go with the amazing Ramin Karimloo from the 25th.  Michael Maguire, who plays Enjolras in the 10th, is a great singer with a powerful voice, but he’s a little too old for the role and doesn’t seem to be quite as gung-ho as Enjolras is supposed to be.  Ramin Karimloo, on the other hand, has a phenomenal voice, looks like Enjolras ought to look, is young enough for the part and, last but not least, perfectly captures Enjolras’ fiery charisma.  When he first appears, we’re this close to leaping from our seats, through the TV screen and onstage beside him to sing the song of angry men (er… women).

Monsieur and Madame Thenardier-
Let’s get this straight right from the very beginning—WE HATE THE THENARDIERS.  Slimy, money-grubbing, ruthless, cruel and all-around disgusting, they are definitely the most despicable characters in the entire musical.  (That doesn’t mean we aren’t amused by their comic relief at times, though… after all, in a story as sad as this, a little humor is quite welcome occasionally!)

Alun Armstrong, 10th

Jenny Galloway and Matt Lucas, 25th
For the best portrayal of Monsieur Thenardier, we award Alun Armstrong from the 10th.  (This has nothing to do with the fact that we are quite familiar with his craggy face from many of our favorite Dickens adaptations.)  His singing voice is frankly better than that of Matt Lucas in the 25th, plus he looks the way we imagined Thenardier should.  Greasy hair, grimy army uniform, stooped back… yep, spot-on.

Jenny Galloway plays Madame Thenardier in both the 10th and 25th anniversary concerts, so we really can’t pass judgment here! She does an equally good job in both.

The Bishop -
The Bishop only has about 5-10 minutes of screen time, but he is a major part of the Les Miz story. He's the one who first shows Valjean forgiveness and begins Valjean's road to redemption with the simple gift of two candlesticks. So in the concert, the part of the Bishop has to make a big impression in a very small amount of time.
Earl Carpenter, 25th (heehee, doesn't Alfie Boe look so evil
in the background?
To be honest, we think Paul Monaghan from the 10th is... scary-looking, to say the least. He does leave a big impression, but not exactly a good kind of impression. Instead of "Wow, he just blew me away," it's more like "Whoa... that dude was creepy." Not exactly what we want to come away with from that scene. (He does have a beautiful voice, though.) So obviously, we infinitely prefer Earl Carpenter from the 25th. He exudes the whole demeanor of a humble bishop, possesses a fabulous voice, and leaves us with tears in our eyes.

Gavroche -
Gavroche is just adorable. He's a little boy with a big heart. He's a brave fighter and a strong survivor. He lives on the streets, and he's proud of it. We are simply crazy for Gavroche. He's confident and cocky, fearless and loyal. The Thenardiers did not deserve to have a boy as fabulous as Gavroche.

And a boy as fabulous as Gavroche did not deserve to die.


So you can imagine how heartbroken we are when he's shot down at the barricades... it's so unfair. He shouldn't have died; he's just a little boy. It's sickening, really. At that point of the story, we temporarily dislike Victor Hugo. Immensely.
Robert Madge, 25th
Both these young actors are extremely talented, but we have to go with Robert Madge from the 25th. Apart from the fact that he's cute as a button (that cheeky grin at the end of "Little People"? SO. CUTE.), he just portrays all the qualities and characteristics of Gavroche to perfection. But we must also give a huge round of applause to Adam Searles in the 10th; he was spectacular as well!

Little Cosette -
We just want to reach right through the screen and envelop Little Cosette in a big bear hug. She’s so cute in a pathetic way—she needs love so badly and yet can’t even remember her own mother.  We already hate the Thenardiers, of course, but seeing the way they treat poor Little Cosette, we’d be happy to strangle them with our bare hands.
Mia Jenkins, 25th
We honestly can’t decide between the two Little Cosettes—both do an excellent job in their roles.  Hannah Chick from 10th deserves a big round of applause for keeping calm and carrying on when the balloon burst during "Castle on a Cloud," but she looks about twelve and Cosette is supposed to be much younger than that.  Mia Jenkins is utterly adorable and perfectly captures Cosette’s sweet wistfulness, so we’ll go with Mia Jenkins from 25th as Little Cosette.

And that concludes our evaluation of the Les Miserables concert actors. Let's have a round of applause, shall we?

(And if you noticed the omission of a Certain Major Character, do not let your heart be troubled. There is much, much more coming on that subject in our next post...)  :) 

~ Amy and Petie

24 comments:

Molly said...

I am simply LOVING this week! In the picture of the bishop, doesn't he look puzzled at something? All your comparisons were lovely, m'dears. Congrats!

Miss Dashwood said...

Molly,
He does indeed-- and I'm so glad you're enjoying this week, dearest! I think you're going to get a huge kick out of tomorrow's post... :D

Anonymous said...

Oh, my gracious. I'm writing, like, this exact same post, except for the cast I saw. HA!! : )

Yes, Valjean is THE BEST hero on the stage. Take that, Raoul, Phantom, Professor Bhaer, and Eric! And Colm is the best of the two. Alfie is too perfect - too squeaky-clean, like you said. I'm sorry, but he just is. (Same with Nick Jonas.)

YEAH!! Javert is one of my favorite characters, too. Hehehe. I really liked him, even if he was one of those twisted-religion guys. Totally agree with you on the suicide part, too. Yes. I'm not sure I can agree with you on Quast vs. Lewis, mainly because, ahem, I've never actually listened to Lewis. I heard his 'Stars' the other day, but I knew I liked Quast's better. (So if I based it off of their rendition of 'Stars' alone, yes, Quast wins.)

Amen on Fantine!! That's why I liked her, too. (Ooh, a link Alexandra's blog! Must read...) Hmm... I really can't say which one I liked better. Ruthie's vibrato annoys me a little, but I can't say that I like Lea's voice better. Lea Salonga is really just an Eponine for me. (And come, come now - she can't be both Eponine AND Fantine!... Oh, wait. Yeah, she can. Quick-change artist!) And, yes, the wig... Yikes. Someone didn't want to tell the wigmaker their true opinion of it. Talk about weird! But I can't say which I like better... I only recently decided that I didn't like Ruthie's voice, and I haven't nailed down *exactly* why. I also haven't heard Lea Salonga's *entire* 'I Dreamed a Dream,' so... my opinion on either of them is not decided yet. (However, my opinion on who I think is THE BEST Fantine is... *wink, wink* Wait for my blog post. Hehehe...)

Eponine... wow. I can't say which I like better, either. I'm really glad Samantha is going to be The Eponine from The Movie, though!! 'Both bring Eponine to life... which is ironic...' HA!! I think I'd have to say both, too.

Totally agree with you on Cosette. I haven't seen Katie Hall, but I think I'd have to agree with you. (Seriously, girl, you need to watch the whole thing before you start trying to say your opinions!)

BUT!! I know that I TOTALLY agree with you on Ramin. Oh, yes - he IS Enjolras!! But, hey, he DID try to stop Gavroche. The little boy was just too fast... *tears up* Anyway, I love him pretty much every time he appears, too. I screamed a little when he came out on 'One Day More!' and my siblings didn't care. : P Whatever. Yes! His Red Vest of Power and Awesomeness. Just about describes it!!! You really can't stop yourself from singing with him whenever he comes onstage. I mean, he's SO COOL!!

Silly Blogger won't let me finish my comment. : P
Eowyn

Anonymous said...

My comment, cont'd. Hehehe...

And I couldn't agree with you more about the Thenardiers. I hate them with a passion. So much that even when he did say something really funny - that wasn't crude or disgusting - I hardly even laughed. Oh, my STARS!! Alun Armstrong! WHOA!! Really?! I didn't know - wow! Hmm... now which song is clean so that I can hear his voice...?

Yup, I think Paul is a little creepy. (And that picture - Alfie looks EVIL! HA!) I'm going nto have to watch Earl's version.

Gavroche... wow. He's SOOO CUTE!!! Oh, my word, when he died... "When the pup... grows..." BAM! Ouch. Talk about sad death! See, I almost cried then - not that I didn't cry when Eponine died, but... his was sadder, in a way. (Cuz Eponine's death was too sweet to be sad. Anywhoz...) Yup - that's when I really don't like Victor Hugo. REALLY. And the Enjolras. And then Marius! Argh. I could go ON and ON about Gavroche - how cute he is, how great he is, how adorable his little voice is, how brave he is.... But I won't, cabuz this is a comment and not an essay or another blog post. I really liked Robert, too. Almost better than Adam. (Sorry, but it's true!) He's just got the actions that go with the part, too!

Little Cosette is a hard one for me, too! Hannah did a REALLY good job when that balloon burst (I, on the other hand, would have started screaming or laughing or something...), but I think I'm going to have to say Mia, too. She's so cute!!!

APPLAUSE!! That was so much fun! Makes me want to do a comparison of another musical... Hmm... that's a good idea. I'll have to think about it.

Yes, I noticed the ommision and canNOT wait. Seriously, I have an opinion, and I can't wait to read yours. Ha!

Eowyn

Miss Dashwood said...

Eowyn,
Yay for long comments!
*sits back with a contented sigh to write a long reply*

Wait... who's Eric? I recognized all the other heroes you mentioned--oh, is he from The Little Mermaid?

Okay, so you have DEFINITELY got to listen to Lea Salonga's IDAD in its entirety. Just go do it now. Please, please. And I'm going to guess Betsy Morgan is your favorite Fantine. :D

You're right, Enjo DID try to stop Gavroche, but IMHO he didn't try hard enough. If it had been me there, I wouldn't have said, "Someone pull him down at once!"-- I would have been scrambling up the barricade pulling him down at once. *sniffle*

If you want a clean Alun Armstrong song, try "The Sewers/Dog Eats Dog." It's not a very pleasant song, but as far as I can remember there's no swearing in it. Master of the House is okay up to a certain point as well (just turn it off when Madame comes on).

And OH YES. Gavroche's death just kills me (pun not intended). And the scene in the book (which, by the way, is almost identical to the musical, except he's singing some French song instead of Little People, haha) is absolutely heartrending. I was bawling my eyes out while reading it--and it was a school assignment! :P

So glad you're enjoying this! Ooh, I do hope you decide to do a musical comparison-- I would LOVE to read it.

Heehee, I'll be looking forward to your opinionated comments tomorrow... *rubs hands gleefully*

Alexandra said...

Squeeee!!!

(Ally cracks her knuckles for a Great Big Discussion. Actually, I don't crack my knuckles, that's a MAJOR pet peeve of mine. So I sit back and get comfortable. Anyway.)

Alfie has a lovely voice. But he lacks the emotion for a lot of it. And his voice is too operatic for the hardened criminal, Valjean. Now, I might not have a problem with him being, say, the Phantom, as the whole point of the character is his gorgeous voice, but he was just wrong casting for Valjean, IMO. Colm rocks. His Bring Him Home was stellar. (ALSO. ALfie kinda went out of character during the standing ovation of his Bring Him Home...that bugged me a bit. This is not a concert,this is a play. Ignore the peoples and stay in Valjean's tragic moment.)

Philip Quast definitely gets my vote for Javert. I think he's awesome, and also. He is an antagonist. Not a villain. :-D An antagonist keeps the protagonist from reaching his goals, but he isn't always evil. A villain is evil. :-P I love being picky like that. :-D Anyway. Norm blew me away, but he sitll didn't quite wow me the same (and my Javert-adoring brother thought he was nothing to Quast).

Fantine!!!!!! My faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaave!!! (and btw, honored to have been linked! Thankyouverymuch!) Gahhhhh, I would LOOOOOVE to play her someday. SIGH, SIGH, SIGH. Anyway.

Ugh, I'm torn. I think this all just depends on the portrayal of Fantine. Both Ruthie and Lea are a bit old for the role, honestly (Fantine was supposed to be twenty-five...I'd love to see a young Fantine casting someday (cough, cough, I *am* two years younger..heheheeee). But minor quibble. I personally will sacrifice a stellar note for major emotion, so I'm good with Ruthie's ending. But Lea brought a lot of anger into the role, which i thought was cool. And Lea's just always awesome, of course. But wehn it comes to "Come to Me", probably (next to IDAD, of course) my favorite Fantine song, I'd have to go with Ruthie's. Soooo IDK. Both are amazing.

Eopnine is Lea, all the way, no holds barred. I reallly didn't care for Samatha at first...however, she is growing on me, and she DOES show a lot of emotion. I think my big problem is that I don't like when On My Own is performed like...IDK, a pop ballad. Too many singers like to just belt out the song intstead of ACTING it, which I kinda felt like Samantha did in the concert. But I've since warmed majorly to her (and can't wait to see how she does in the movie!!!!) plus her Little Fall of Rain fell so very flat (but then, I know most of that was NJ's fault) while Lea's was sooooo incredible (that was actually the first Les Miz song I ever heard, and I was bawling the first time I heard it. So gorgeous). So while they're both good, definitely Lea.

Alexandra said...

continued...

Hmmmmmmm, Cosette. Judy was waaaaaaaaaay too old, but I felt Katie was a bit weak in her higher notes (I am very mucho picky about that). However, she was cute and looked the right age. Too bad she got stuck with NJ's Marius. that might have helped things. :-P

Enjo - RAMIN WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT!!!! SQUEEEEEEE!!!!!

There we go.

Michael's voice may technically be better (and for years he was my favorite), but Ramin has all the charisma that you imagine Enjo must have had to inspire the devotion of all those men. Plus Ramin is SUCH A STINKIN' INCREDIBLE ACTOR, it's not funny. Ramin, wooooot! (and I love that pic. And that right muchly.)

Alun Armstrong without second thought. He and Jenny had such awesome chemistry that was lacking in the 25th with Matt Lucas, and he's just amazing. Period. Love the guy.

I never really paid attention to the bishop...heheheheee. You know, I don't know if I saw that first song. ha!

Gavroche - I am one of the baddies who isn't a huge fangirl of Gavroche (not that i hate him by any means, just never really paid attention. :-P). But Robert Madge was a cutie.

Hannah was FANTASTIC when the balloon popped, but yes, she was way too old. However, she did look remarkably like Judy Kuhn, gotta give that to her. But yes, Mia was a doll.

Whew! And now I might as well just go copy this on Blogger for my post. Hahahaha!

THIS IS SO AWESOME.

Payton Wilson said...

Eowyn,
What is your blog address? I would love to check it out!!!

I've been listening to the 10th concert CD (shock!) and I must admit that I can't exactly pinpoint why I don't really like Ruthie Henshall either. Her voice annoys me at times (okay, a LOT), but on just a few other times I really like her, like on "Come to Me." But even if she does eventually grow on me, I know I'll always love Lea Salonga better. =)

The disappointing thing about "Master of the House" is that it's really a clever and catchy song; I just prefer to turn it off once Madame comes on. Urgh. Why did they feel the need to do that? =(

Thanks for sharing your opinions, Eowyn!! Loved your long comments. =)

Miss Dashwood said...

Ally,

Knuckle-cracking is one of my pet peeves too. :D
And YES. Alfie's too operatic! It's gorgeousness... it's just not Valjean.

EXCELLENT way of putting it-- Javert is an antagonist and not a villain. *applause*

Okay, so I love you. You just said of Samantha Barks, "however, she's growing on me" and that is the exact phrase that has been getting me a lot of grief from my sisters lately. According to them, every time I talk about Eponine, I say how awesome Lea Salonga is and then wind up with, "but Samantha Barks is growing on me." They tease me about it unmercifully. :P But now I can retaliate with, "hey, I'm not the only one..."

Hahaha, poifect Ramin reaction. And YES, MM has great singing and all that, but Ramin just IS Enjo. You can totally see why they all practically worship him!

The only semi-important person we had to leave out (for space and time constraints) was Grantaire and I'm still feeling sad about that... what's your take on him? (note: if I get started on Grantaire, I have to warn you that much sobbing will ensue.)

Petie,
Heh, the risque songs are always the catchiest ones... but at least they share tunes with other songs, so if "Lovely Ladies" starts going through your head, you can sing "Turning" instead! (You see I'm a bit of a poet and you did not know it, what? Neither did I until I'd finished typing the sentence.)

Anonymous said...

Amy - I love long comments, too... Especially when they're more like another blog post!! I was just worried mine was a little *too* long. : P

Yeah, Eric is from The Little Mermaid. He's a little bit of an airhead - like Cosette - but I liked him better in the musical than I did in the Disney movie. (I mean, come on - "If Only" is soooo good. How could I *not* like him after all that?!)

Okay, okay... I'll listen to it after my long reply to everyone's comments. : ) And, yes - quote from my upcoming post, "Betsy Morgan has GOT to by my FAVORITE FANTINE EVER!!!!!!!!" (Maybe not that many exclamation points, but with the same passion behind it.)

True... true.... That's RIGHT!! Me, too. Saved the poor boy... *tears up*

Okay. Yeah, I just can't listen to any part of MotH anymore because that scene pops up in my mind... and it's not a very pleasant scene, either. : P

Seriously... you wouldn't think that a little boy would be so awesome. If only they'd made his part a leeeettle less cute! Then maybe it might not be so sad!! Argh. Why must the cute die young?! Yes, the book again. I'm GOING to read it! Just watch!

Enjoying is not the right word. Loving? No. Adoring? Maybe. : ) I'm seriously thinking about it. I'd have to contact some other huge fans, first, though. : )

Glad you're looking forward to it. I love that whole subject... Hehehe... Can't wait!!

Alexandra - RAMIN WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT!!!! SQUEEEEEEE!!!!!
SUCH A STINKIN' INCREDIBLE ACTOR!

B'HAHAHAHAHA!!!! Exactly what I'd say!!! Phantom 25th... need I say more?! He's SO GOOD!!!

Payton - www.inklingspress.blogspot.com Enjoy! I'd dearly love to stalk your blog, too... but my internet filter blocks it. My dad is going to unblock it soon... and then you will be BOMBARDED with my comments. : )

Yeah, Ruthie's "Come to Me" is okaaaay. Better than her IDAD. If I had to pick, it'd be Lea. Her voice is gorgeous!!!

Sadly, like Amy said, most of the risque ones are. : P I know, right?!

Thanks for doing all this!! I'm having so much fun reading and commenting!!! : D

Amy and Alexandra - You guys don't like knuckle-cracking? Heehee... remind me never to do that around you, should we ever meet. I crack my knuckles a lot. : ) And, yes - Javert IS an antagonist, not a villain. Love it!!

Ooh, Grantaire. He's such an interesting character! He had SO many actions in the musical, I didn't realize just how important of a character he was! And he and Gavroche were such great friends... *sob*

Amy - I watched Lea Salonga's IDAD. Wow. She's SOO GOOD!! "Then it all went wrong..." *SOB!!!*

But I still can't decide which I like better - Betsy Morgan or Lea. : P Let me think about it.

Eowyn

Miss Melody Muffin said...

I. Am. Now. A. Convert.

To explain: last night I was reading your inaugural Les Miz week post, Amy. I saw the playlist at the side of the page and just turned it on, figuring it would be a good preview of the Les Miz music. The song that played was Do You Hear the People Sing? (Ramin Karimloo version). The first few seconds in, and I was thinking "This is fantastic music!" Come the end of the song and I was thinking, "That was a wonderful, terrific, EPIC, and gorgeous song!!!!!!!!!!! I LOVE IT!!!!" I played it again. And then again. Then I rushed over to youtube and looked for a video of it. The first video to come up was the 10th anniversary version. So I watched it. Once. Twice. A third time. And then, still a fourth time just before I went to bed! (To be honest, if I hadn't absolutely HAD to go to bed right then, I'd probably have seen it even more times!) Then I played a couple times this morning before breakfast.

Words now fail me to describe how it has become my current favorite song-which means it will be played 5-10 times a day for quite awhile now!!

Oh, and I really enjoyed this post about all the characters. I absolutely HAVE to make the time to read Les Miz SOON! Late nights here I come!! (Actually, it will probably have to wait until my friend's wedding is done in a few weeks.)

Anyway, many thanks for introducing me more fully to this classic masterpiece!!!!

Jemimah C. said...

Before I speak of anything else, you had me laughing at the end of your post. "...the omission of a Certain Major Character..." Now just who might that be? Ha ha ha! Can't wait to see that upcoming post, as well as all the other Les Miserables posts. This week is going to be amazing. I just know it!

'Kay, where was I? Oh, I have only seen the 10th Anniversary concert, and that was years ago. As in, I can't remember everything about it. Sad, right? Argh, I seriously need to schedule a viewing for both the 10th and 25th concerts. It's hard to judge the productions without seeing both first.

Anyway, you're doing wonderfully, Petie and Amy!

Miss Laurie of Old-Fashioned Charm said...

Yay! the post I've been waiting for where I get to put in my two cents about the characters and read your lovely opinions! :)
I give you warning, I do not at all promise to keep my comment short. hehe ;)

"amazing characters" indeed!

Jean Valjean - Having never read the book I'm going to take your word that Colm Wilkinson "is" Valjean. I have a great deal of respect for him in the role, and admire several of his touches to the songs. Unfortunately I was already a bit ("a very little bit") of an Alfie Boe fan before watching the 25th so I sort of felt an instant connection to his Valjean that I didn't quite get with Mr. Wilkinson's. I shall duck for cover now and whisper under my breath *whispers* "that I almost prefer Alfie Boe's Valjean, well at least I think I prefer his voice". But after saying that I am quite ready to be scolded into preferring Colm Wilkinson to any other Valjean that has every graced a stage. :)

"Keep Colm and Call Quast" - how clever! hehe :)

Inspector Javert - He'd one of my favorite characters too! I like him almost as much as Valjean and Enjolras! :) Oh no m'dear Amy and Petie, I cry at his suicide too! *sniff, sniff* (well, I'm not a teenager any more...)
Because I got lost in the plot while watching 10th I didn't really get Javert's story until watching 25th. I love Norm Lewis' bit voice and many of his facial expressions and it was his Javert that first made me love the character. But...just a couple days ago on my second viewing of 10th Philip Quast made me bawl in his amazing emotional rendering of 'Javert's Soliloquy'. As you say his does a wonderful job with portraying the inner struggle of the character! :)

Fantine - She's a character I feel sorry for but I can't quite bring myself to like her all that much. Lea Salonga's emotional performance and voice as amazing but (as I'm sure you'll mention later) I quite disliked the "Lovely Ladies" scenes which she has such a bit part of so overall I prefer Ruthie Henshall's Fantine a bit better. But then again, Lea's 'Fantine's Death' always make me cry!

Eponine - Dear sweet girl! Chills, goosebumps and tears just reading that quote from 'On My Own' and thinking about her!
Oh my goodness! How did I miss that? Lea Salonga was 10th Eponine?? See, I'm learning something new about Les Miz every day!
I think I prefer Samantha Barks a tad more, her performance is amazing and I love her voice.

Cosette - "airhead" indeed! Poor dear, but she is a silly goosie! :) I hate it when she's so demanding and almost disrespectful to Valjean in "In My Life", I mean what more could she wish for than Valjean as a father and a life of safety and love? But yes, it's true, she is "darling Colette, er Cosette" and you can't help but like her because she's so special to Valjean, Fantine and Marius.
I love Katie Hall's looks and her clear sweet voice but her portrayal is actually the Cosette I get most aggravated with. On my recent viewing of 10th Judy Kuhn's version made me like the character a bit more, but maybe it was just Michael Ball making her look good... ;)

To be continued... :)

Miss Laurie of Old-Fashioned Charm said...

My comments continued...

Enjolras!!!! - I’m a huge Enjo fan too!! When I finally get around to reading the book I’m greatly looking forward to hearing more about his story. Sadly he was one character in my first viewing of 10th that I liked but didn’t really understand, then on watching 25th I absolutely fell in love with his character and Ramin Karimloo’s voice! Watching Michael Maguire’s portrayal again was quite a disappointment, he just doesn’t have the youthfulness or passion that Ramin Karimloo has as Enjo!

The Thenardiers - Yes, they are nasty slimy creatures! But boy aren’t they funny in so many ways and because of their “comic relief” I can’t help liking them a bit. Thought Matt Lucas has some facial expressions and comedic timing (he is a comedian after all) I can’t help preferring Alun Armstrong’s Thenardier in every way! Is it really the same actress in the role both times? Wow! another fact I’d totally missed. Oh! it is! Then who is the lady who sings with Alun at the :reunion song” at the end of 25th? Hmm...

The Bishop - Yes, he is such an interesting and admirable character! Paul Monaghan in 10th is scary hairy!! Earl Carpenter in 25th has an equally lovely voice and truly seems concerned for Valjean to turn to the light.

Gavroche - I’m kind of glad that both 10th and 25th seem to skim over his death because I’m not sure I’d be able to handle it, not after Eponine’s death! Robert Madge’s Gavroche is so so charming and full of like and spunk! My favorite too! :)

Little Cosette - I prefer Mia Jenkins in 25th because she’s so incredibly sweet and her voice is perfect for “Castle on a Cloud”. Ohhh! so that was a balloon bursting on stage in 10th, I wondered if maybe one of the “cannons” went off prematurely or something. hehe :)

This post was amazingly lovely! I had WAY too much fun reading your thoughts and writing a few...err many...of my own. Thanks so much Amy & Petie for hosting this Les Miz week! :)

Miss Laurie of Old-Fashioned Charm said...

P.S. I just saw Amy & Ally's discusion about Grantaire. It's too bad you didn't have time to add him in, I liked his character quite a bit even though his role isn't very big in the musical. I think I prefer 25th and especially the part in 'ABC Cafe' where he sings "It is better than an o-per-aahh!" it was just a great touch to his part. His is another story I look forward to learning more about when I read the book. :)

Sophie said...

Cosette is actually 16/17, not 18 - it's also implied that she was born in autumn in the book, so she was probably 16 during the barricades. x

Miss Dashwood said...

Eowyn,
Ooh, are there new songs in TLM like there are in Beauty and the Beast? Cool! I'm not a big fan of TLM, but I do like a few of the songs from the movie (except Part of Your World, which drives me nuts!).
YAY! So glad you watched Lea's IDAD. SOOOOOO good. I'll have to see Besty MOrgan's version, too, now-- you've piqued my curiousity!

Miss Melody Muffin,
YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY! That song is sung on repeat in our house-- my brother sings it while brushing his teeth in the mornings. :D I'm so glad you're becoming a fan! Do please take a moment to listen to some of the other music in that playlist-- it's amazing.
The reprise of "Do You Hear the People Sing?" (the 10th anniversary version) is, IMHO, even better, so be sure to check that out! :)

Jemimah C.,
Hehee... ooh, you must definitely watch the 10th again! As soon as possible, m'dear! The whole thing is on YouTube. :D
Thanks for your sweet encouragement-- Petie and I have been having SUCH fun with this!

Miss Dashwood said...

Miss Laurie,
Yay! I love long comments. :)
Ah, well, that's okay if you prefer Alfie Boe-- personally, I believe that Colm Wilkinson completely embodies the role from the book but Alfie does have an incredibly beautiful voice! Have you heard him sing "Abide With Me"? It's gorgeous.

Heehee, we didn't come up with the Keep Colm and Call Quast but it's really cute, isn't it?
Acck, Philip Quast's "Suicide" is just heartbreaking. He's so torn apart and half insane at that point--it's utterly tragic.

Oooh, you didn't know Lea Salonga was 10th Eponine? My dear, you must now go and re-watch her scenes posthaste! Isn't she amazing? Samantha Barks' performance is outstanding though-- SO happy she's going to be in the movie.

Hahaha, Michael Ball making Judy Kuhn look good... Excellent thought there. :D

YES! Ramin Karimloo was what made me love Enjolras so much. Michael Maguire's performance was great, but I didn't fall in love with him. :D

The lady who sings with Alun at the end of 25th is the original Mme. Thenardier from the 1985 London stage production (she didn't appear in the 10th concert though, since that was composed of actors from many different productions over the past ten years).

Yes, Grantaire is such a tragic character-- I DEFINITELY prefer the 25th's portrayal of him, but that may be just a bias toward Hadley Fraser (who is an amazing singer IMO).

Sophie,
Whoops, thanks for the correction! That actually makes more sense, in light of the time lapse between Montfermeil and Paris...

larkin said...

Just in case you're wondering, you are not the only two teenage girls who cried when Javert committed suicide. I sobbed, both at home in front of the tv and in the theatre. That last note breaks my heart. Javert is one of my favourite characters without a doubt.

-larkin

Anonymous said...

Amy - YES!!! Oh, yes. 'Positoovity,' 'If Only,' and 'She's in Love' are my favorites! Eric has a new one, too - 'Her Voice.' My absolute favorite is 'If Only,' though. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgUxhUUk_Hs&feature=related The song is from the soundtrack (Sierra Boggess as Ariel!) and random clips from the musical.

I agree about 'Part of Your World.' : D She's a little spoiled, but it's a really great example of Christ's love for us when her dad trades places with her in the end. Love that part!

Eowyn

An Old-Fashioned Girl said...

Okay, Amy and Petie, I agree with you completely on everything, except I do like Ruthie's Fantine ( I don't mind the wig , because in the book, it mentions Fantine's "golden" hair), and I love Cosette. I think she's such a sweet, kind girl, very much like her mother in that respect, and she's a very loving daughter to Valjean.

SeafaringLass said...

I absolutely and utterly adore Ruthie Henshall's portrayal of Fantine in the 25th. The timbre of her voice and the true emotion she conveys makes me cry every time. At the very end as she appears as a ghost, I get such chills when she holds out the last word of "...is to see the face of God." One of the most touching, beautiful performances I have ever seen - very close to my heart. In my opinion, Ruthie's is by far the best and I don't care what anyone says! I've always found Lea Salonga's performances to come across as stiff and she drives me crazy with her over-enunciation of every syllable.

Melody said...

Okay, I got halfway through this before clicking the comment box. "Oh, I'll just wait till the end." Uh-huh. :P

So, you added your note here, but you still didn't say whether or not you preferred Lea Salonga or Ruthie Henshall in the end. So... which is it? :P
And Petie's note cracked me up. I understand her opinion. ;D

Hehe, you don't break down during OMO anymore, though. Callous creature. ;D Kidding, kidding.

"(which is, uh, ironic considering Eponine’s tragically untimely demise)"
*snicker-snorts into hand* ehehehehe... ahem. Stop making me laugh. :P
Okay, I think either your views have changed slightly since then or that was partly Petie's influence on the thing, because to me it seems like you much prefer Lea to Samantha in the concerts. But if it really was almost a toss-up... what about when SB-of-the-movie is thrown into the competition? Because she obviously did better there.

Haha... pretty sure I've heard you be a bit more positive about Cosette other times than in this post. :P
I did like Katie Hall better but she annoyed me sometimes, too. It's like ten million times better than having her as Christine, though. O_O I dunno, I saw a picture of her as Christine (I think) and I was like, wait, what, no... I guess it's mainly her looks, haha.

"Whoa... that dude was creepy." BAHAHAHA. Eehee. You girls are hilarious.
And Alfie Boe DOES look rather evil in the background. Hahaha.

Soooooo... if Eponine and Gavroche are both children of the Thenardiers, how's come we don't really see, like, interaction there? Oooor is it just not in the concerts? :P

Eheehehe... the Certain Major Character left out. Okay, this is gonna be goood. Haha. Well, I'll be more interested in the Nick-Jonas-Bashing than the Michael-Ball-Swooning, but never mind that particular point.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to point out a Fantine that doesn't usually pop up in discussions of the character, but who impressed Caird (who directed her) and Schonberg (who was there to check out a new production). The 1987 Japanese production is well known for its Eponine, played by Kaho Shimada, who went on to perform in the CSR. However, its Fantine is often overlooked by Les Mis fans. She was played by Hiromi Iwasaki, a singer of some repute in Japan. Unfortunately for her, she's not featured in any of the numerous Japanese cast albums, so her rendition of Fantine is remembered only by those who've seen her live. However, I Dreamed a Dream does feature a lot in her concerts, so there is that.

I Dreamed a Dream, Kohaku 1987
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmlkfYA8WIA

A clip of a younger her in 1983, with Fantine-style long hair
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avxe6q_ScnU

Hiromi & Kaho singing Dancing Queen, late 1990s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-afDVmwAWQ