Les Mis Fans ~ Keep An Eye Out During PBS Pledge Break Times

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by AragornElessar, Mar 8, 2011.

  1. Gazpacho

    Gazpacho Well-Known Member

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    Here are the less major male characters.

    Enjolras (Michael Maguire vs. Ramin Karimloo)

    Vocals: Both are fantastic, but Ramin wins. Even though he’s not pitch perfect a couple times, he makes it look so effortless and never strains to reach those notes. Michael Ball and Ramin Karimloo back and forth at 1:35 to 2:04 here :swoon:

    Acting/interpretation: Although Enjolras isn’t that major a character, I still saw the biggest interpretation differences among the male characters.

    Michael Maguire’s Enjolras reminds me of the saying, “Today’s revolutionaries are tomorrow’s dictators”. Today he’s driven by passion for equality, but I can totally see him, if he got into a position of power, persecuting those who don’t agree with him. This Enjolras will hold grudges and would intimidate and bully people.

    Ramin’s Enjolras, on the other hand, is more driven by an idealistic fire. Whereas Michael’s Enjolras saw himself as more capable than his friends, Ramin’s Enjolras is one of them. I don’t sense an ulterior motive as I do with Michael’s Enjolras.

    Strictly from an audience member's perspective, it’s easier to get behind Enjolras’s cause with Ramin’s interpretation, charm, and charisma. But Michael’s interpretation is more philosophically interesting. Overall, I don't have a preference.

    By the way, doesn't Michael Maguire look like a combination of Eric from The Little Mermaid and Gaston from Beauty and the Beast? I wonder if he's played either of those characters on Broadway.

    Msr. Thénardier (Alun Armstrong vs. Matt Lucas)

    Jenny Galloway played Mme. Thénardier in both productions, so I’m only comparing the males.

    Vocals: This really isn’t a vocally important part.

    Acting/interpretation: Alun Armstrong’s Thénardier is entertaining, but in a sinister way. Matt Lucas’s Thénardier doesn’t come across as sinister, just as a ham.

    In terms of preference, it depends on the perceived purpose of the role. If it’s an almost purely comedic role, then Matt Lucas does a better job in terms of getting the audience into it. If it’s a sinister role, then Alun Armstrong does a better job.

    Others:

    The guy who played Grantaire (sp?) in the 25th was awesome. He infused so much personality into that role and made that personality seem totally natural, not forced or attention-seeking. He had a minor role but made a big impression on me. I watched the 10th anniversary “Drink with Me” video just yesterday to do this write-up, and I already forget what that Grantaire looks like, nor do I care to watch it again just to see.

    Come to think of it, the students as a group were way better in the 25th than the 10th. The group as a whole became a noteworthy, memorable character rather than a backdrop for Enjolras and Marius.

    The Gavroche in the 25th owns the one in the 10th. He was amazing. Such sass, such spunk, such attitude!
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2012
  2. UGG

    UGG Well-Known Member

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    YAY at Taylor Swift NOT playing my favorite character of all time. There was no way she could sing that part. And YAY for Colm and Francis having roles in the film!! YAY YAY YAY!!!

    I was 10 in 1987 when I first saw Les Miserables and it had such an impact on my childhood. I literally grew up being a huge Les Miz fan. The anniversary shows, and seeing the OLC sing one day more, is just so nostalgic for me. I get all choked up. All of those people meant so much to me growing up LOL!
     
  3. sk8sue

    sk8sue SHERLOCKED

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    Thanks for the analysis, Gazpacho. I found a good recent interview with Ramin Karimloo who is now playing Jean Valjean in the Queen's theatre production and has his first album coming out in March. He mentions “After the warm-up I stop worrying about how I sound, because that’s just one aspect of it. I like to be a little rough around the edges, I guess,” which I found interesting considering the comparisons of different actors' singing and acting in their various parts.

    As an aside, I first saw Colm Wilkinson playing the Phantom in Toronto and had the cast album as well, so I was quite taken aback when I first heard him as Jean Valjean and took some time to get used to the idea and to not only associate his distinctive voice with a spooky type of character. Eventually I grew to love him as Jean Valjean and didn't think I could ever associate another voice so much with the character until I saw Alfie Boe.
     
  4. morqet

    morqet Well-Known Member

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    That was Hadley Fraser. He played Marius in London back in 2002, and is currently playing Javert. One of my favourite performers ever.
     
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  5. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    Gazpacho, still waiting for your thoughts on the females.
     
  6. AragornElessar

    AragornElessar Well-Known Member

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    Speaking of Ramin...If you've got Detroit PBS, it's Pledge Break Time and tonight on Great Performances is Phantom of the Opera. Guess who is playing the Phantom? :)

    Just mentioning that for those interested who can catch it.

    I was lucky enough to see him twice as the Phantom in Toronto and...Sigh!! :) Did you know that ALW wanted him to be the original Phantom, but Colm was busy w/Les Mis, so couldn't do it. Colm's Music of the Night is far better than Michael Crawford's IMO and the best of the versions I've heard so far.

    Gazpacho, awesome rundown of the male parts in the two Anniversary shows. Can't wait to see your opinions of the ladies.
     
  7. Wyliefan

    Wyliefan Well-Known Member

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    Michael Crawford's "Music of the Night" is far better than Colm's, IMO. But then, Colm's "Bring Him Home" is better than Michael's. :) (Michael sang the song on his first solo album.)
     
  8. Kruss

    Kruss Not Auto-Tuned

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    I am completely bowled over by how great this Phantom production is! (25th Anniversary) From the cast to the staging - it's stellar. I've just ordered the blue-ray.

    My favorite Phantom up until now has been split between Colm and Gary Mauer, whom I saw twice live. However, Ramin Karimloo is outstanding. I should grab some tickets, he's going to be playing a concert in Chicago in September.

    And Sierra Boggess is stunningly beautiful.
     
  9. AragornElessar

    AragornElessar Well-Known Member

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    I could add to Kruss' excellent post, but since she pretty much covered it... :D

    Ramin was awesome as The Phantom. His Music of the Night was gorgeous!!

    Which is downloading from iTunes as we speak.

    Boy though, has Sarah Brightman lost a step or two. She was really fighting to hold those notes at the end of PotO during the encore.
     
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  10. Kruss

    Kruss Not Auto-Tuned

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    I seriously cried a few times, I was so into it. This was amazing, and the performances were do much more emotional and moving than I'd ever seen.
     
  11. AragornElessar

    AragornElessar Well-Known Member

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    Considering we had no power from sometime very late Friday night till just mid afternoon this afternoon thanks to Mother Nature's tantrum she pulled, this was such a lovely surprise to find when I was checking out the on air guide at 6pm on our dish. Little did I know just *how* lovely.

    WOW!!

    I also had tears in my eyes a couple of times Kruss. What an outstanding production. I was kicking myself for not popping in a blank DVD and recording it, but then we lost our feed a couple of times (thankfully not for long and *not* during any of the major songs) and that made me feel a bit better about not doing that.

    I'll have to go hunting for this the next time I'm near a HMV store. Still hunting for the 25th Les Mis. Even though I did DVR that off of PBS, I missed the very beginning w/the Chain Gang, Valjean's Parole and the encounter w/the Bishop. Besides, that will end up being the version I take w/me travelling and the "good version" can stay here safe at home.

    Provided I ever find the thing that is.
     
  12. Kruss

    Kruss Not Auto-Tuned

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    Have you checked Amazon? I was able to order it from there.
     
  13. AragornElessar

    AragornElessar Well-Known Member

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    So long as I'm living under my Parents roof, no buying anything online. For me to use iTunes, I need to buy my own gift cards and then redeem them. Just a tad annoying.
     
  14. floskate

    floskate Vacant

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    The Phantom 25th Anniversary from the Royal Albert Hall is absolutely amazing. Not a concert staging like Les Mis but the whole show, incredibly staged considering the constraints of the venue. There's not a single performance that isn't superb and Ramin and Sierra are out of this world as the Phantom and Christine. Seriously one of the best things I have ever seen. I would seriously recommend getting this on DVD or blu-ray - you'll watch it again and again. :swoon:
     
  15. Kruss

    Kruss Not Auto-Tuned

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    I'm sure it'll be available at regular stores, too. :)
     
  16. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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  17. AragornElessar

    AragornElessar Well-Known Member

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    Oh, I know it's in the stores. Both 25th Anniversary DVD's, although until last night I didn't realize there was one for Phantom, but that's not that important at the moment. ;) Anyway, the HMV that's nearest to me had sold out and were waiting on the order of new DVD's of the Les Mis 25th DVD and the one at the Eaton's Centre in Toronto I checked last week had one, but it was already spoken and paid for, so...

    I would have gone to the one on Queen St, but by that point I was dead tired, needed to sit and my feet just weren't going to let me do that. Oh well...I'll be headed down for sure in May for CSOI and again for foot surgery sometime this year, plus back over to the one in Sudbury when I have a follow up w/the Dental Surgeon in a couple of weeks, so it's not like I'll be missing chances to look for it. Now, I have *two* 25th Anniversary DVD's to look for is all. :D

    When it comes to the music of Les Mis, it's so special to me for the obvious reasons. My introduction to this wonderful music was thanks to Underhill and Martini skating to On My Own back in the day. First time I ever got to see them to begin w/, but I just adored the song they skated to, so decided to see if I could try and find it. That was the Fall of 1988, so was a far bit more difficult to do than it would be now.

    And then 90 Cdns and Kurt skated to Bring Him Home and...That song has helped me through so much over the last 22 years. Whenever I was going through another really rough patch healthwise then and now, all I have to do is hear any version of BHH and it takes me back to that very special week and those memories truly do help.

    In 1997 it took on an even more special meaning to me, as I was lucky enough to interview Canada's Jean Valjean, Michael Burgess in College. He was in town to perform in Concert, I got to interview him first and then got a private performance of BHH.

    For stock footage for the story of course. ;) :D

    Such a nice guy too. I still think the reason I got to do that was because I had to have my appendix out three weeks before that, it was my first story back and my Instructor, knowing my love of Les Mis, took pity on me. Of course, that's one VHS tape that'll never be taped over.

    As for PotO...Those two trips to Toronto were the only times during all my High School years where I got to be just like everyone else for once. I'd already seen some of it thanks to things here and there. Such as Royal Variety Performance or the Tony Awards and adored what I'd seen. So that show's also rather special to me too.

    And now I think I've rambled enough... :)
     
  18. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    ^^ Sorry, I thought you were looking for the Phantom 25th. I have the Les Mis 10th Anniversary and the original cast CDs and the 10th Anniversary DVD. I like the 10th the best. I do think that Alfie Boe is amazing, but the rest of the 10th Dream Cast is better (I think).
     
  19. AragornElessar

    AragornElessar Well-Known Member

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    No problem. Until seeing that incredable performance of PotO last night, and this is the reason I adore PBS Pledge Times, I didn't know there *was* a 25th Anniversary Phantom DVD to look for. Now that I do, I have two DVD's of two very special shows that mean an awful lot to me to be on the lookout for. :)
     
  20. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    Good luck, I hope you get them soon. :)
     
  21. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

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    ROFL, I had a somewhat opposite problem--I went in to seeing Phantom in Toronto having heard Michael Crawford sing the role so many times I wasn't really sure Colm Wilkinson (whom I'd heard as Valjean) was going to work at all for me! And while vocally, I'll still take Crawford's singing, Wilkinson's physical performance blew me away. He really threw his entire body into the role.

    And I really need to catch the POTO anniversary to hear Ramin's Phantom, as it seems unlikely we'll be hearing much more of him as the character in "Love Never Dies" (or as some have called it "Paint Never Dries"...)
     
  22. Latte

    Latte Well-Known Member

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    The Phantom was stunning, simply stunning.
     
  23. Gazpacho

    Gazpacho Well-Known Member

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    I've gotten around to writing up the females! First up is Fantine.

    Fantine (Ruthie Henshall vs. Lea Salonga)

    Vocals:

    Both are fantastic. Lea’s voice is more pure and prettier, but I also like Ruthie’s lower voice, and she has the ability to make some notes truly magical. Listen to the way she sings “forgiving” at 1:29 here.

    Lea now needs to reach for some of the higher notes that she sang effortlessly when she was younger, such as “be” at 4:04 here. She does reach them, however, and her lower notes are stronger than ever. So it's not a criticism but rather a reality of age. Ruthie doesn't sound the way she did in her 20's, nor does anyone else. My gripes with Lea's vocals are not about sound but rather about phrasing, as described below. Phrasing is also the reason I don't like Patti Lupone.

    Lea and Ruthie are both amazing individually, but when you combine them, it's surreal. Check out the harmony starting 5:55 here.

    Acting/interpretation

    Fantine's signature song is "I Dreamed a Dream", and that's also where the interpretation differences are greatest.

    Lea’s Fantine is an ESL teacher. To help English learners, she treats and pronounces every syllable independently. Proficient speakers tend to glaze over some syllables or pronounce them rather quickly, and that makes it difficult for non-native speakers to understand. Lea slows down those syllables so students have time to think about whether they’re short or long vowels.

    English has some syllables that are difficult for non-native speakers to pronounce. To help her students reduce their accents, Lea clearly demonstrates the mouth movement and tongue placement required for each syllable.

    As an ESL teacher, Lea realizes that as her students become more proficient, they don’t have to rely as much on these pedagogical strategies, so Lea does this less toward the end of the song.

    However, she still understands that with any language, some phrases should not be taken literally. Figurative language can beautifully convey emotion, but they are confusing for non-native speakers. Not to worry—Lea acts the emotion behind those lines. Sometimes emotions can be hard to read, and Lea doesn’t want to confuse students, so her emotional displays leave little room for confusion.

    Needless to say, I found Lea’s performance very unnatural and overdone to the point of discomfort. I realize that watching from the last row in a theater is different from watching it up close, so maybe Lea's performance was much better to the people in the back row. But the performers knew that more people would see the videos than be in the theater. Lea's co-stars adapted for that, but she didn't.

    In terms of interpretation of the character, Ruthie’s Fantine has already given up and is resigned to her fate. Lea’s Fantine, on the other hand, still has a fire in her and isn’t going down without a fight. I don’t have a preference with regard to that.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2012
  24. jenny12

    jenny12 Well-Known Member

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    I agree with your analysis Gazpacho and enjoyed reading it. I couldn't quite put my finger on why I didn't care for Lea's Fantine as much as Ruthie's and you articulated in really well. I think Lea is wonderful and I love her voice, but for me the over-enunciation of Lea's Fantine was distracting and took me out of the performance.
     
  25. Gazpacho

    Gazpacho Well-Known Member

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    Last ones--Eponine and Cosette!

    Eponine (Lea Salonga vs. Samantha Barks)

    Vocals:

    Lea by a mile. Samantha has difficulty reaching the lower notes and is screechier.

    Acting and interpretation:

    Lea’s Eponine is pissed. Check out the bitchface at 0:38 and again at 4:37 here. She is pissed at Marius for choosing Cosette and isn't going down without a fight. Unlike her Fantine performance, Lea doesn’t overdo it with Eponine. Her diction is clear but not unnatural like an ESL teacher. Her mouth movements are a bit exaggerated, but not to the point that it distracted from her performance. Her emotions are also clearly expressed, maybe a bit over-expressed, but still not as much as Fantine's and nothing that couldn’t be explained by the fact that the character is young and immature.

    Samantha's Eponine is more naive and less assertive than Lea's. Samantha's Eponine isn't the fighter type.

    Eponine in the musical is a more sympathetic character than in the novel, and Marius likes her as a friend. Both Lea and Samantha bring appeal to Cosette, but in different ways. Samantha’s Eponine is more immediately likable, and one can easily see why Marius would like her as a friend. But Lea’s bitchface and pissiness actually make the character more charismatic, in a sassy way. She knows she's hotter and spunkier than boring Cosette, and that's why she's pissed. She reminds me of a cat—bitchy yet charming.

    Lea does Eponine’s death infinitely better than Samantha. It’s her best moment from either of her performances. There is one moment by Samantha, however, that strikes me for its subtle power. Look at the way she turns her head at 2:22 here.

    Cosette (Judy Kuhn vs. Katie Hall)

    Vocals:

    Judy Kuhn by a mile. I’m not a big fan of high sopranos, but I can’t help but find Judy's voice beautiful. Katie Hall sounds squeaky at times.

    Acting/interpretation

    This is the only major character for whom I clearly prefer the 25th edition. I much prefer some of the minor characters in the 25th, as described earlier. For the other major characters, I either don’t have a preference or prefer the 10th edition.

    Cosette is a bland character. It’s no wonder that many fans root for Eponine. It doesn’t help that Eponine, in both editions, is hotter than Cosette.

    Judy Kuhn makes a boring character even more boring. I know senior citizens with more energy and spunk than Judy Kuhn’s Cosette. She is reserved to the point that she barely shows any emotion when the man who raised her tells her that he’s dying. There are plenty of people like that who are very sweet and kind and lovable when you get to know them. But those aren’t the people Marius, or anyone, fall in love with at first sight.

    Katie Hall, on the other hand, injects some expression and personality into Cosette. Although her interpretation isn’t amazing, at least she shows some youth, energy, cuteness, and sweetness. I suspect she would have been even better with a better Marius.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2012
  26. MLIS

    MLIS Active Member

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    I've been rewatching some of the 25th anniversary clips thanks to Gazpacho's excellent posts, and one of the things that struck me in both the One Day More reprise with the original cast (besides Michael Ball's absolute schooling of Nick Jonas - THAT is how you sing Marius, child) and the Valjean quartet (breathtaking) is how much they are all enjoying the moment and moved by the music. Whenever they're not singing (and even when they are, sometimes) eyes are closed, faces are grinning/beaming, they are applauding each other, and it's such a joy to see so many performers of different generations and backgrounds brought together by love of this show. I particularly like when Colm Wilkinson steps forward to begin Bring Him Home and the Valjean next to him (is it John Owen Jones?) makes this fantastic "yeah, that's Colm freakin' Wilkinson, this is so cool" face. The appreciation of and respect for each other and the music make those two of my favourite Les Mis moments, ever. Which includes seeing Colm do Valjean three times in Toronto. Other Valjeans have been terrific, but there's only one Colm, imho. I saw him in concert last summer and he did Bring Him Home (of course) and it still the most amazing combination of actor, voice, and song.
     
  27. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    I wonder if part of that was due to the fact that this was not the actual play. There were a few characters who I thought did not really physically act the role. I just assumed it was for the above reason. I thought that Kuhn's vocal passion was there.
     
  28. ngcskate

    ngcskate New Member

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    Does anyone know why Michael Crawford didn't sing on the 25th anniversary special? I kept waiting for him to come out at some point during Music of the Night and he never did :-(
     
  29. victoriaheidi

    victoriaheidi New Member

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    Kuhn was also the original Broadway Cosette. I'd love to hear an opinion comparing that recording to the 10th, because I feel like she was really sweet-sounding on the OBCR.
     
  30. colinmom71

    colinmom71 Well-Known Member

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    Per Wikipedia - "Beginning with previews in February 2011, Crawford originated the part of the Wizard in the new Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical version of The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium, which had its official opening on 1 March 2011.[27] He stated on This Morning: Sunday, on 14 August 2011, that he had signed on for a further six months in the show.[28] He left the production on 5 February 2012.

    On 2 October 2011, Crawford made a special appearance during the finale of The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall — a fully staged production of the musical at the famous London venue — marking 25 years since the show received its world premiere. Although reunited with original Christine, Sarah Brightman, Crawford did not sing as he had just finished performing in a matinee of The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium."