Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Miserable Spring

In the past few weeks, a lot has happened in the Les Misérables front.

You remember, a month ago Tampereen Teatteri told us their musical for the 2013-2014 season would be Les Mis. Ten weeks without my favourite musical in my country and they tell us we'll get another one! I couldn't be luckier!
The only negative side of getting a new Finnish Les Mis was the translation. Jukka Virtanen's rhymes don't do the original any justice at all, I belive its place in the hall of fame of worst Finnish musical translations is widely accepted. Laughing at it was nice while it was just subtitles on the concert DVD, but the thought of it becoming a real libretto they sing onstage again... A couple of jokes about a petition for a new translation were made and I ranted about it here, but then something wiped that out of my head:

It was time for a short vacation in London.
I'm working on a couple of proper reviews, but here's what I have to say about West End Les Mis in a nutshell: I was confused to find out how much I've grown to dislike some of the original production's choices. After seeing the Åbo Svenska Teater version so many times, I felt the original is too over-the-top, too melodramatic, simply too big. Its faults - the students fighting a faceless enemy and dying as saint-like martyrs, sickly-looking dead soldier dolls in a severe need of dusting, grandness during the wrong momens (look out, it's a runaway caaaaaart...) - suddenly all that seemed more apparent to me than before.
Even though it had four understudies, and even though I was a bit disappointed I didn't get to see David Shannon as Jean Valjean again, the cast was reasonably strong. Earl Carpenter, who briefly returned to play Javert, once again claimed the number one spot in my list of favourites. It was like seeing the Javert from the book materialise onstage! But I feel the direction, the production surrounding the performances, doesn't compare to the ÅST version.

I returned home to some rumours I - surprisingly! - found alarming: Georg Malvius, the director behing ÅST's Les Mis, would direct the upcoming TT Les Mis. The third Les Mis of his career, I believe? You'd think, knowing what I think about ÅST, I would be glad... But I'm not sure.
It might be Malvius has new ideas and will give the show a different spin, but I'm afraid we'll get an ÅST revival. Despite my love towards the production, I think it's time for something new. Of course an ÅST replica might not happen, and anyway, Malvius giving us a production similar to ÅST might be better than a director with no vision at all messing up the whole thing... But somehow, I think it'd been refreshing to give a new director a chance. Oh well.

After thinking that through, I remembered the matter of the translation again. After a couple words of encouragement from friends, I got the thing online: A New Translation for Tampereen Teatteri's Les Mis. The petition is in Finnish, has English signing instructions for foreign supporters, and speaks for itself. Check it out.

The Les Mis madness shows no signs of slowing down, though... Tampereen Teatteri just told us they'll be doing the piece the West End way, with over 15 minutes of cuts compared to the full show (they claimed half an hour would go, but if they're truely doing the West End cut as they also say, that's an exaggeration. Luckily).
I can't help being disappointed. One of the many things I loved about ÅST's Les Mis was the show being practically complete. I hear some people would like a shorter Les Mis, I know some think it's too long and boring - but, it being my favourite show, the last thing for me to do is to jump out of joy when I hear it'll be practically impossible to see the whole thing live again. The TT Twitter claims the show will be "even better" with the cuts. I, on the other hand, dislike how the cuts get rid of some lovely moments, little scenes I love. The little character development Cosette has is, for example, on the line. Her face is in the freaking logo - is it too much to ask for she could get her moments back?

They're auditioning today and tomorrow. I'm glad they're starting to use more auditions in Finnish theatres, giving the chance to everyone. Seems like a good idea to me. Here's to hoping they'll find an amazing cast! If the actors are stellar enough, I'll probably stop fretting about the cuts... But nothing will stop my disappointment if the hideous translation is not fixed.

Sign the petition.


  1. It's great to hear they are doing another production of 'Les Mis' in Finland as I did not have the chance to see the ÅST one. The only 'Les Mis' I have seen is the West End one so I don't have anything to compare to as of yet.
    Jealous you got to see Earl Carpenter! He is supposed to be an incredible performer!

    1. Hope you'll get to see the new Finnish one - and hope it'll be awesome! :)
      Yep, Carpenter was indeed incredible! I had a seat in the front row. I think my mouth was hanging open for half of the show since I was so mesmerized by him... :D