Saturday, December 4, 2010

The People Sing!

I got my Les Misérables 25th Anniversary Concert DVD a couple of days ago.
A really short review: I loved it.
A little longer review: I loved it, but...

I believe it's best to talk about the bad things first.
I'll try to keep this short, because I admit the rant about Finnish/Swedish Les Misérables went on about three meters longer than anyone cares to read...

Nick Jonas.
I'm certain he's a really sweet guy and probably does nice music with his band, if you like that kind of stuff. And he's the same age as I am. I've nothing against him.
But I have everything against the person who decided he was the right Marius for this concert.
I mean, his voice just didn't hold. He sounded ridiculous next to Ramin Karimloo's great strong voice, and when singing duets with the girls his voice was overpowered all the time, too. On top of this he had the same suffering expression the whole time. Kind of an "I know I'm failing, please don't beat me!" expression...

I wasn't that keen on Katie Hall as Cosette, neither.
She sounds really sweet, and she's lovely on the 2010 CD. But watching her performance I felt something was missing. She was not exactly bad, but I thought she could've been even better. Especially when it came to Marius and Cosette scenes... They seemed like two kids lost in this wild whirlpool of events, and not in a good way. To me, it felt like these two had a little more chemistry than two a planks of wood placed next to each other.
But maybe I've just been spoiled by the amazing, outstanding, wonderfully cute Finnish/Swedish Cosette and Marius.

Samantha Barks as Eponine was okay but not great.
I think Eponine is one of those characters that I haven't found a favourite performance yet, though lately I've been listening to Rosalind James on the 2010 CD. But this girl didn't manage to amaze me. She was okay, definitely not bad, and sung nicely. But somehow she didn't really make me feel for the character. I think I enjoyed Lea Salonga's Eponine more than this, for example.

Now the good things?
Well, everything else.

I loved, loved, loved Ramin Karimloo (I saw him in The Phantom of the Opera, by the way! Pure wonderfulness there, too!) as Enjolras. A gazillion times better than the guy on the 10th Ann. DVD - the only thing I remember about him is his hair, which slightly reminded me of a Ken doll...
In Ramin I've found my ultimate Enjy. He's so great, I can believe this guy really could be a revolution leader. And I could loop his "Grantaire, put that bottle down!" the whole day without getting bored. And the Enjy/Grantaire interaction during Drink With Me... Pure goodness!

Speaking of Grantaire: I liked how the students were less middle-aged this time! The clearly too old students annoyed me on the 10th ann. DVD, better luck this time! And Grantaire could pronounce "Don Juan" right! Right now I only remember hearing that done on the Dutch CD before this! It's not that hard, see!

Some have claimed that Norm Lewis was a horrible Javert.
I can't see where they get that from.
In my opinion he wasn't better than Philip Quast (my, and I dare guess everybody else's ultimate Javert), but that definitely doesn't mean he would be bad! I especially liked how he had a somehow different interpretation of Javert than the usual - for example, I could swear Earl Carpenter (my first Javert, and the Bishop on this DVD!) is channeling Philip Quast during some parts of the 2010 CD, since he sounds just like the 10th Ann. CD. But I didn't get that feeling with Norm Lewis. His Javert was his own, and totally not a bad one!

Alfie Boe's Valjean was great, too.
Valjean is not a character I feel for easily. Usually, he leaves somewhat distant for me. And I can't say it wasn't like that this time, too - might have to do more with the character than the actor. But I really liked hearing an opera singer in the role, and I thought he sounded great!
I especially loved Confrontation. Sung by Boe and Lewis it really sounded like a lifetime of pure hatred compressed into two minutes. Just great, maybe my favourite performance of that song ever!

Lea Salonga as Fantine was fantastic.
During I Dreamed a Dream shivers kept running down my spine. It was amazing. And after Fantine's Death when she leaves the stage, little Cosette enters and they look briefly at each other... I wasn't far from crying at that point!

And finally, the Thénardiers.
I thought Matt Lucas couldn't top Alun Armstrong, who I find hilarious. But he did! He was even more funny, almost perfect! I couldn't help giggling during Master of the House! If the movie becomes reality, I wouldn't mind casting him - actually, I would almost demand it!
Jenny Galloway, then again, was a little bit more funny 15 years ago, in my opinion. But of course there's more to Mme Thénardier than the fun - I think her performance is now closer to the book. And I loved how she interacted with the audience at the end of Master of the House!

Lastly, a couple words about the staging:
I think the lights, especially during the barricade parts, looked amazing. And I also liked how they didn't sit on the stage the whole time anymore (but I will miss looking at the background action!). Especially Fantine's and Eponine's deaths had a whole new emotional level to them because of the new staging!

And now it's time to shut up so you won't run out of energy reading this and go to watch the DVD again!

1 comment:

  1. Totally agree with what you say about Norm Lewis. Personally I'm surprised to discover such a good voice ! He's doing really good.