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
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.
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!