August 21, 2010

Les Miserables? Not Me

Thursday Night I went to the Lowry Theatre in Salford Quays to see Les Miserables which is currently on it's 25 Anniversary Tour.

Here's a Link to some information about where i was, in fact the picture at the middle in the bottom was very close to my actual seat giving you some idea of what my view was, excellent.

I've never actually been to Salford Quays before and I was delighted to find a Chiqito's there!! Finally I could have Mexican after the show...pity it shut 30 muntes after the show was due to finish and I'd have to get out of the multi-story car park first...BUGGER!!

Anyway got there in plenty of time and had a look round.  Sadly there wasn't much for sale except some rather tacky T-Shirts probably not in my size, CD's and DVDs I already had and marked up food so I decided to read my program and learn a little about the performers.

Got talking to a couple next to me, apparently she'd seen it 6 times live already, I had to confess I was only really familiar with the 10th Anniversary Performance from the Royal Albert Hall which was done on Static Microphones with acting occuring in the background and on big screens.

First thing I'll say, for the one person I know is interested, yup it was fully acted and no static microphones were used.  Odd they decided to do it that way for the 10th Anniversary and another thing they did was miss a couple of parts from the storyline from the 10th Anniversary which were shown here:

1) Fantine's original decision to become a whore elongated and her falling ill becasue of it

2) Eponine being seen as Thenadier's daughter with Cosette as children

3) Valjean finding Cosette in the woods getting water

4) The first Thenardier attack on Valjean which is thwarted by Javert with Valjean and Cosette fleeing and Thenardier getting away due to their being no "victim" of his crime around and Javert now suspicious that Valjean is nearby.  This is also where Adult Eponine is first introduced and Cosette and Marius first meet.  The scene ends with Marius asking Eponine to find Cosette.

5) Mentioning Valjean has a brand from his days as a slave which is how Javert can identify him.

6) Valjean confessing his past to Marius and swearing him to secrecy as he belives it would break Cosette's heart to know the truth about him

7) Eponine delivering Valjean a letter to Cosette from Marius which lets Valjean in on the fact Marius and Cosette are in love.  Eponine is killed returning to the barricade and dies in a distraught Marius's arms.

8) Gavrosh's brutal murder by the French Army.  This actually seemed to genuinly disturb some of the audience because the Gavrosh character is well liked and he was shot and died in agony behind the baricade so the audience couldn't see it, only hear it.

9) Elongated version of Thenardier and Valjean in the sewers after the battle.

10) Thenardier approaching Marius at his wedding to Cosette.  Thenardier gives him a ring which Marius instantly recognisies as his own and pieces together that Valjean saved his life.

So actually found it interesting to watch again as it was something new in it both being acted and the parts I hadn't yet seen.  Yes I can recite the words to the main songs off the top of my head without thinking but seeing it live was so much better.

So what did I think of the overall performance:

John Owen-Jones - Valjean:  Very very good.  Valjean seems like such a hard character to play.  You have to have the power to go toe-to-toe with Javert in the confrontational duos but you have to also have a range which I belive should only be reachable in italian trousers for "Bring Him Home" and he handled it brilliantly and with his acting, especailly in the beginning, was able to display the mental anguish valjean struggled with for the vast majority of his life.

Earl Carpenter - Javert: Good.  I don't think he was as strong as Valjean, Javert often isn't in performances becasue the character is fairly 1 dimensional, and that inflexibility being what, in the end, destroys him.  However his rendition of Stars was excellent and the way they stage performed his eventual suicide was incredible.  He definitely had a menacing stage presence in that you knew he was the antagonist but also recognised him as a black/white person in a sea of shades of grey.

Laura Tebbutt - Fantine: Excellent.  Understudy called in but did a fantastic job.  With "I Dreamed a Dream" now being, thanks to Susan Boyle, a Nationally well known song in the UK she would have been held to high standards and given the audiences whooping applause she got it right.  Played the tragic heroine to perfection.  An interesting contrast to Ruthie Henshaw from the 10th Anniversary who was much more powerful in delivery.  Sobbing heard during "Come to Me"

Rosalind James - Eponine: Very Good.  Played the character well.  Obviously all Eponine's are really judged on how they sing "On My Own".  I think that she struggled a bit with the "PRE-TEND-IIIIING" bit as her voice seemed to break a bit but I may have been imagining it.  Then again I'm used to the Lea Salonga version..Youtube It!!  Excellent rendition though and I definitely heard crying during "A Little Fall of Rain".

Max Griesbach and Lynne Wilmot - Thenardiers: Fantastic.  Got a fantastic crowd reaction and interaction well.  Mannerisms perfect. "Master of the House" and "Beggar At The Feast" both got very good reactions and were performed excellently.  Griesbach especailly has Thernardier down perfectly.  Funny in parts but you knew he was a scuzzball who'd sell his adopted daughter for 1500 francs....wait he did?? Bastard!!

Luke Kemper - Marius - Understudy to Gareth Gates and was exceptional.  Again Marius is often judged by "Empty Chairs and Empty Tables" and given voice-wise he up vs Michael Ball for the version I know that's a slight problem but his rendition was excellent and he had very good on stage chemistry.

Jon Robyns - Enjolras - For me he stole the show.  Absolutely incredbile performance.  Enjorlas sadly doesn't really have any individual songs but "Red and Black" and "Do You Hear the People Sing" are associated with him and his work was almost perfect.  From the determination of the plan, to the despair of realising Paris will not rise up in support (another bit i hadn't seen before) to his final "Let Us Die Facing Our Foes....Let Others Rise" act of defiance.

The 25th Anniversay comes to a head on 2nd of October in London's O2 arena which I imagine will be an amazing evening, if you have a spare £150 for tickets and the same again for travelling ($500 is a lot for 1 night) but to be honest if I had it I'd do it again.  But for the £40 I did spend I couldn't have asked anymore.  Fantastic performance, incredibly enjoyable and it was even fun discussing the performace half way through with the couple I'd met.

Overall thoroughly fantastic.  I'm going to have to go more often...just earlier so i can get some Mexican in..

Take Care Guys


Posted By Boomer at 08:52 PM




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