Monday, October 17, 2011

Crowning Moments of Awesome

I think I should stop calling this thing a musical blog altogether and instead call it a blog about all things Les Mis... But I'm on a roll now! To balance out all the negativity in the previous entry, let me present you with some of my favourite things about Åbo Svenska Teater's Les Misérables, in no particular order. I guess my goal is that if someone, sometime in the future, for whatever reason, wants to stage an exact replica of the ÅST Les Mis, they don't have to go digging around the theatre's archives for the director's notes or rehearsal videos... My blog will tell them everything they need to know.
Some Superfluous Opinions - because I know reading me ramble is a bit more interesting than watching grass grow!

In this list, too? Yes!
No matter if he's played by Glenn Daniel Nilsson or Tomi Metsäketo, ÅST's Marius is the most adorable, dorky thing I've ever seen in the role (meaning that in a positive way, so Nick Jonas haters may hold their peace)! Even with him hugging Éponine all the time, which I mentioned in the previous post... I just love him.
Adorable awkwardness is not everything there is to Marius here, though. I love his more serious moments just as much as the adorkable courting Cosette scenes. From falling from a tree into Cosette's garden (never gets old!) to the way he shakes a fellow revolutionary's hand off his shoulders after Éponine has died... I love this version of Marius the best out of all the ones I've seen.

Javert's Suicide & Javert in the Finale
I guess I've mentioned how much I adore the decision of including Javert in the Finale for about seventeen times already, so I don't really need to go into much detail... Let's just say, one time more, that for once my favourite character gets the ending he deserves.
What I haven't talked about so much, yet (I think?), is the staging of Javert's Suicide. I do like the traditional West End version, but the very end... The actor rolling around the stage like a dying fly really takes something away from the drama of the moment. Luckily that's not the case here. Instead, Javert falls backwards from a bridge and disappears. Boom, gone. Not a moment of awkward dying on the stage floor - and thank goodness for that. The impact is much stronger this way.

The ABC Café
Where do I even begin with this?
The ABC Café is filled with brilliance. I don't try to claim the original staging isn't interesting, energetic and all that, but this... From the blood oath Les Amis take for the revolution to the mock fight Marius and Grantaire have after the latter has teased the former about Cosette... The less-than-gentle way Enjolras puts a stop to the aforementioned fight... The energy.
I'm especially fond of the mock fight. I admit I don't remember, clearly, the details of that moment in the original, but I think I can still say I prefer this treatment. It's such a fun, nice moment this group of friends share - only to be interrupted by a higher call. Maybe my number one favourite moment of the whole show, if it's possible to pin one down.

The Staging of the Barricade + the Aftermath of the Barricade
Simply the fact that the barricade has both sides has charmed me ever since the first time I saw this production.
In the original, we don't see who the barricade boys are fighting against. We hear a disembodied voice calling them names every now and then, and then some lights to signify the gunfire. The revolutionaries die as heroes, the opposing side staying faceless, emotionless, monstrous.
But here? We see the National Guard shooting the revolutionaries. And guess what? They're just as young, just as cute as the barricade boys. And they die, too. They, too, are fighting for what they believe to be right, and dying for their cause. I love the staging because it shows us all this and makes us think. The barricade boys aren't heroic martyrs anymore, and the whole second act seems much more realistic.
Also, after the barricade has fallen, the bodies of both sides stay onstage for a surprisingly long time: all the way from The Final Battle to Turning. Thénardier robs them during his song. Then the ensemble ladies, giving a purpose for their usually very tedious number at long last, carefully take them all, both National Guard and Les Amis, away and clear the barricade.

Gorgeous choices.

Bubbling under:
- Cosette (has a personality, pretty dress instead of the original lampshade)
- Valjean and little Cosette moments (adorablemeter hits 100%)
- the Thénardiers (not a moment of Matt Lucas-like over-the-top comedy here!)

Photo by Nana Simelius. 

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