The musical that has been seen by an audience of over 70 million worldwide in 42 countries, sweeping over 125 major awards internationally, and which I have watched various versions repeatedly is coming to our sunny shores! The hit musical, produced by Cameron Mackintosh, has returned to Singapore for the first time in TWENTY years.
AND I AM GOING TO WATCH IT!! 😀 OMGOMG I'm such a huge fan of Les Miserables you cannot imagine. It's such a dream come true to be able to watch the musical LIVE.
Update: I watched the musical and thoroughly enjoyed it! 😀 Here's my review >> Les Mis Singapore 2016
It's not fair to pit actors from the movie against singers from the musicals because they're inherently differently mediums performed for different audiences. So here's my idea of a Les Miserables dream cast in my perfect world for a musical, where one possesses the voice and presence to sing for a 5-digit audience size, not just in front of a camera.
Before that, a little history here first. Many people think Les Miserables is about the French Revolution of 1789-99. Truth is, Les Miserables is actually set 26 years after this Revolution, and concerns a rebellion that occurred in Paris in June 1832 against the rule of King Louis-Philippe. I only understood this after watching the movie.
(screenshots from Les Miserables 2012)
My Les Miserables addiction began after watching the movie twice. I then watched the 10th anniversary (original broadway 1985) and 25th anniversary (2010) on YT. The full videos have since been taken down due to copyright issues, but if you know the way of the Internet, it isn't that hard to look. Heh.
The movie was fantastic for it provided a visual framework for all that story-singing to happen. If I had watched the broadway musicals before the movie, I wouldn't have understood half of it. The movie helped me understand the little details so that I can further appreciate the musicals.
Cinematography opened up my imagination from the scenes to the people to the place in time - little Gavroche singing 'Look Down' amongst peasants begging the aristocrats to look down and help them; deterioration of working class living conditions; people suffering from a deadly cholera epidemic; streets of 19th-century France; Gavroche getting shot dead; Fantine falling into despondency after getting her head shaved and teeth unhygienically extracted; Valjean stealing silver under the bishop's nose; troops and young boys getting ready in 'One More Day', how Valjean saved Marius by escaping via the sewage.
Colm Wilkinson created the starring role of Jean Valjean in 1985, making him the original Valjean. There were no guidelines, no references; he shaped the way Valjean would sing based on his own interpretation of the character. In Hugh Jackman's words, 'Colm Wilkinson created a way of singing that tenors have been copying now ever since. He did things with that role that was not originally written'. I'm glad they cast Wilkinson in the movie as the Bishop of Digne. There couldn't have been a better person for that role, especially when he passed the candle sticks to Hugh, symbolic of passing the baton. He brought the spirit of the original musical into the movie.
While Wilkinson may have been the original, my favorite Valjean of all time is Alfie Boe, whose portrayal of Valjean in the 25th was widely acclaimed. Through his voice I feel his fury, hopelessness, pain, shock, hunger to retrieve what was taken away from him during the 19 years in jail at the beginning of the musical. His voice is extraordinary. I never get sick of his 'Who Am I', 'Bring Him Home', and 'Confrontation' with Norm Lewis.
Here's a special encore performance of four Valjeans singing 'Bring Him Home' from the 25th and you can tell Boe is UNPARALLELED in his singing. The 3 other Valjeans are Colm Wilkinson, John Owen Jones, Simon Bowman. All of them are good, but Alfie's voice has a depth and richness that cannot be imitated. When it comes to belting 'TWO-FOUR-SIX-OH-OOOONE' and 'I AM WARNING YOU JAVERT!', no one can do it like Alfie.
Dream cast Valjean = Alfie Boe, 25th anniversary
The first time I watched the 25th, I had a hard time getting to the next scene coz I kept replaying 'Stars'. Haha. Norm Lewis' rendition of 'Stars' is beautiful, poignant, and shows a side of Javert never reveals to anyone, except to the stars in his quiet moments. In 'Javert's Soliloquy', Norm tells you that Javert has a soul.
Here's my favorite 'Confrontation' by Alfie and Norm, the BEST counterpoint I have ever heard. Their chemistry is just amazing. Every time I watch this my heart is so tight you could cut the tension with a knife, and at the end, I'll go PHOOO coz I forgot to breathe. Every time. LOL. Norm's voice screams authority and did you hear his deep chaaii-innnnnn... SO SEXY AND SCARY.
Russell Crowe did great in the acting department, however the musical fact remains that Javert should be sung by a rich baritone, and Russell was struggling musically throughout the movie.
I think the population is divided between Norm Lewis (25th) and Phillip Quast (10th), both professionally trained theatre singers with range, depth, strength, and power. But I prefer Norm, who portrays a harsh, beastly, aggressive, passionate, confident and full-of-rage villainous Javert. I am mesmerized by his enunciation, each word emphasized at the right spot, probably his interpretation of Javert's rigidity in his beliefs towards righteousness.
Norm's acting is excellent too. From the Prologue Work Scene where Valjean is about to be released,
Now bring me prisoner 24601
Your time is up
And your parole's begun
You know what that means
Yes, it means I'm free
He accompanied that stern NO! with a quick frown, as though finding it ridiculous that Valjean would think being on parole means regaining freedom.
Earl Carpenter, who played the bishop in the 25th, plays Javert for the version that is bound for Singapore. I am very excited to see how he transforms himself from a kind bishop to an unfeeling figure of authority!
Dream cast Javert: Norm Lewis, 25th anniversary
Anne Hathaway's portrayal of the frail and forsaken prostitute Fantine in the movie is heartwrenching and fragile. One can feel the joy she once had in her youth and despair in her current state when she did 'I Dreamed a Dream'. Lea Salonga played Fantine in the 25th and she's very good no doubt, but I prefer her as Eponine from the 10th.
My favorite song by Fantine is actually 'Fantine's Death' and the best singer I've heard for that is Ruthie Henshall from the 10th. Her rendition is heartbreaking. And she's just standing there, without having to exert too much effort to let everyone know how painful it is to live her life - her voice alone sings it all.
At 02:48 the way she sings it when she knows her Cosette is in the safe hands of Valjean and she can die and says 'take my hand, the night grows ever colder'.... my tears are real. AND OMG if you listen to the last sentence 'and tell Cosette I love her and I'll see her when I wake'. She fades the 'wake' into a beautiful high-pitched echo. I can't describe it, you need to hear it yourself. Just WOW.
Dream cast Fantine: Ruthie Henshall, 10th anniversary
Mr & Mrs Thenardier
I thoroughly enjoyed 'Master of the House' by Sacha Baron Cohen & Helena Bonham Carter in the movie and they did great what was required of them within the confines of a crowded inn.
But Matt Lucas was terrific in the 25th and him just standing there is funny enough with his comical expressions and expressive singing. If you watch the Les Mis rehearsal videos, you can tell Matt is the same type of fun on and off stage. Jenny Galloway played Mrs Thenardier in both 10th and 25th and I love how nasty and cheerfully sarcastic she is.
Dream cast Mr & Mrs Thenardier: Matt Lucas & Jenny Galloway, 25th anniversary
Samantha Barks is good but Lea Salonga is the best Eponine. I am very impressed with how Samantha can hit all the high notes in such a tight corset.
Dream cast Eponine: Lea Salonga, 10th anniversary
To be honest, I don't have a definite favorite Cosette. In the 10th, Michael Ball was an incredible Marius but I feel Judy Khun's Cosette wasn't erm, sweet enough? In the 25th, Katie Hall played an amazing Cosette but Nick Jonas ruined Marius. It's such a pity since Cosette has very short solos and it's painful to listen to Nick in their duets.
Dream cast Cosette: Katie Hall, 25th anniversary
How they could cast a Jonas brother in the historical 25th anniversary moment of Les Miserables will always be a mystery. Though Nick Jonas gave it a valiant effort, he was outgunned by all the other outstanding singers. People said the reason for casting him was to attract the young crowd, his kind of fans. Erm, but, no? He wears the same expression when he sees Cosette for the first time, stands with his brothers to fight, sings 'Heart Full of Love', sings 'Empty Chairs & Empty Tables', and marries Cosette. Amazing how he does that.
Nick is not a lousy singer, but in my humble opinion shouldn't have been cast for such a major role. His voice is not strong enough and he was drowning in songs sung with the others like 'Heart Full of Love' - totally overshadowed by Katie Hall and Samantha Barks; and he was eaten up alive when he sang opposite Ramin's Enjolras in 'One Day More' (start from 01:15).
Nick Jonas' reed-thin voice is more apparent when Michael Ball sang across Ramin Karimloo in the 25th anniversary encore of 'One Day More'. After hearing this, I went "Ohhhhh~ so THIS is how Marius is supposed to sound!" Ramin's fiery and passionate voice versus Michael's rich and charming voice made magic on stage.
Michael Ball's voice will make you swoon, so rich and beautiful, a great contrast when he sings duets with Lea Salonga and Judy Kuhn. He will always be the one and only Marius. #nofight
Dream cast Marius: Michael Ball, 10th anniversary
Ramin ruined Enjolras for me. I can never listen to another rendition of Enjolras. Ramin exudes so much charisma and enthusiasm that you want to join the fight with him even though you know you will die. His eyes and gestures are ablaze with revolutionary zeal, fight-to-the-death spirit, and he does all that while looking so good. IT SHOULD BE ILLEGAL TO LOOK THAT GOOD AND BE SO TALENTED AT THE SAME TIME.
Here's him mouthing 'It is the music of the people, who will NOT be SLAVES again!!! <3
Anyone read the book? Does it describe Enjolras as someone supremely handsome and charming? Coz Enjolras in both 10th and 25thare.
By the way, how I got to know Ramin Karimloo was because I watched the Phantom of the Opera at Marina Bay Sands and after that went back home to watch more POTO videos and somehow landed on Ramin as the Phantom and right there and then, I decided I shall never love another Phantom in my life. HAHA.
Dream cast Enjolras: Ramin Karimloo, 25th anniversary
Daniel Huttlestone played Gavroche in the movie and he stole my heart with his toothy grin, cute face, innocent arrogance, street smarts, and singing pipes. I have faith that he will do well on a big stage.
Dream cast Gavroche: Daniel Huttlestone, movie
So this is my dream cast for Les Miserables in a perfect world where people don't get old and forever be at their prime to perform their best. Hahaha!
Why, thank you so much for making it this far! You must be a huge fan of Les Miserables too to read through all of that. Lol. I'm really excited to catch the musical LIVE this time at the Esplanade Theatres. Who knows, I might even need to update this list! I heard that there will be computer animation (probably to make the bloodshed at the barricades more dramatic), a slicker production, and a speedier pace for this new production to suit the modern palate. 😀
Get your tickets here! 😀 >> Les Miserables Singapore @ Esplanade Theatres
If you could have your dream cast, who would you choose?