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  1. #201
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    Quote Originally Posted by sk8sue View Post
    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.
    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"...)

  2. #202
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    The Phantom was stunning, simply stunning.

  3. #203

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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 by Gazpacho; 03-09-2012 at 10:07 PM.

  4. #204
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gazpacho View Post
    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.
    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.

  5. #205

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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 by Gazpacho; 03-10-2012 at 03:49 AM.

  6. #206

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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.

  7. #207
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gazpacho View Post
    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.
    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.

  8. #208
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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 :-(

  9. #209
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    Quote Originally Posted by cruisin View Post
    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.
    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.

  10. #210

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    Quote Originally Posted by ngcskate View Post
    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 :-(
    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."

  11. #211

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    ? Didn't sing because he just finished performing? I don't get it? Performers do 2 shows in one day regularly.

  12. #212
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    That does seem really strange, unless he strained his voice or was saving it because he had another performance later in the day.

  13. #213

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    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/ar...rth-Eliza.html

    Article on Frances Ruffelle- it is about two years old but I thought it was interesting. She was not asked to participate in the 10 year anniversary concert. Was an interesting read-her pregnancy must have been such a scandal during that time!

    I was always disappointed she was not a part of that show (the 10th anniversary concert).

  14. #214

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    Wow, her daughter looks so much like her. Beautiful girl.
    Charter member of the "We Always Believed in Ashley" Club and the "We Believe in Ricky" Club

  15. #215

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    I finally found clips of the 25th anniversary Gavroche that haven't been removed for copyright. Check out the lil dude--that's what you call star quality! His "long live us" makes me and

    ETA: Here's another partial clip of Gavroche. Love it!!

    Quote Originally Posted by MLIS View Post
    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.
    I also loved the reprise of One Day More, though it's clear that several of the original cast members don't sound the way they did 25 years ago. Also, what was Frances Ruffelle wearing?! Rebecca Caine seemed to enjoy it in particular. Look how excited she gets when the Thenardier's do their bit.

    Also love the look on Ramin's face when it sinks in that he's signing alongside his idol, Colm Wilkinson. Ramin was at his best--even better than in the show itself. I think he upped his game upon realizing that he was up against Michael Ball rather than Nick Jonas
    Last edited by Gazpacho; 03-19-2012 at 05:14 AM.

  16. #216
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    Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean on the set of the movie . (The photo below the one of him and the kids ).

    http://www.couriermail.com.au/entert...-1226305643686

    I can't wait.

  17. #217

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gazpacho View Post
    I finally found clips of the 25th anniversary Gavroche that haven't been removed for copyright. Check out the lil dude--that's what you call star quality! His "long live us" makes me and

    ETA: Here's another partial clip of Gavroche. Love it!!

    I also loved the reprise of One Day More, though it's clear that several of the original cast members don't sound the way they did 25 years ago. Also, what was Frances Ruffelle wearing?! Rebecca Caine seemed to enjoy it in particular. Look how excited she gets when the Thenardier's do their bit.

    Also love the look on Ramin's face when it sinks in that he's signing alongside his idol, Colm Wilkinson. Ramin was at his best--even better than in the show itself. I think he upped his game upon realizing that he was up against Michael Ball rather than Nick Jonas
    Did you see this comment on the youtube video?

    Eponine showing Marius what he missed...
    LMAO.

    And no one should ever play Marius except Michael Ball IMO. No one else does that role justice. I never understood going from Michael Ball in the London production, to that awful David Bryant on the Broadway production. He was so horrible to listen to. Was he someone's relative???

  18. #218
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wyliefan View Post
    Wow, her daughter looks so much like her. Beautiful girl.
    Her daughter is a singer as well (I haven't read the article; they may totally address her in there) with a platinum hit called "Pack Up." I'm a huge Eliza Doolittle fan!

  19. #219

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    Quote Originally Posted by UGG View Post
    And no one should ever play Marius except Michael Ball IMO. No one else does that role justice. I never understood going from Michael Ball in the London production, to that awful David Bryant on the Broadway production. He was so horrible to listen to. Was he someone's relative???
    I agree about Michael Ball. But if you mean right after the first London run, Michael left the production due to some anxiety-type issues - he didn't do shows for awhile. I think (though I'm not positive of the timing) that one of his returns to the stage was as Raoul in the second London company of Phantom, after Crawford, et al., went to New York.
    Give me one more quiet night, before this loud morning gets it right, and does me in.
    ~DC

  20. #220

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    Upon re-watching it, I don't think Norm Lewis is more effortless than Philip Quast, as I had originally thought, based on their vocal power. Norm sounds a bit more powerful, but I think it's purely because his voice is lower. Both are fantastic.

    And I'm even more in love with Alfie's voice. I dare you to watch this video and not love Alfie's voice. (And also John Owen Jones, Simon Bowman, and Colm Wilkinson, though Colm has lost a bit from age.)

    I finally saw the clip of Earl Carpenter as the bishop. He was perfect, sooo much better than the freaky bishop in the 10th anniversary edition. Very gentle, very earnest.
    Last edited by Gazpacho; 03-21-2012 at 03:32 AM.

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