Ranks of My Five Les Mis Casts

This post will rank the actors from the movie, 25th anniversary concert film, the community college production, West End production, and Greenville production. It may not be accurate because I don’t remember some of the actors. About the community college one, I can’t put the actor down since I don’t know the names.

  1. Jean Valjean- Hugh Jackman, community college, Alfie Boe, Nick Cartell, Adam Bayjou (understudy)- hard to pick between Alfie, Nick and Adam.
  2. Javert- Russell Crowe, community college, Norm Lewis, Josh Davis, Jeremy Secomb (only actor where I found an emotional connection to Javert)
  3. Fantine-community college, Lea Salonga, Melissa Mitchell, Anne Hathaway, Rachelle Ann Go
  4. Monsieur and Madame Thenardier-community college, Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen, Jenny Galloway and Matt Lucas, Allison Guann and J. Anthony Crane, Kathy Secombe and Phil Daniels
  5. Eponine-community college, Talia Simone Robinson (understudy), Carrie Hope Fletcher and Samantha Barks (tough call between the two of them)
  6. Cosette-community college, Zoe Doano, Amanda Seyfried, Katie Hall, Jillian Butler
  7. Marius- Nick Jonas, community college, Rob Houchen and Eddie Redmayne, Joshua Grosso
  8. Enjolras-community college, Aaron Tveit, Matt Shingledecker, Ramin Karimloo, Bradley Jaden- tough call between all five

This list is the way it is is 1) due to not remembering some of the actors and 2) some there was no way I could pick. Enjolras was a very tough call and so was Jean Valjean because I loved all of them. Even two of the Eponine’s were tough calls so they were placed together. This is just the best I could do. All of the casts were incredible in different ways. But the ones that stand out the most were the Greenville cast and the West End cast.

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Tragedies of the Les Mis Characters

Yes, yet another Les Mis post. Today I decided to talk why each of the characters in Les Mis have something tragic about them.

Major Spoilers:

Jean Valjean- sent to jail and punished for five years just because he stole a loaf of bread to save his sister’s son and in total served 19 years due to multiple escapes. Has to serve his life as an ex-convict and faced injustice. At the end, he ended up dying, but with Cosette, his adopted daughter and Marius, his now son-in-law by his side.

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Javert- was born inside the jail, his tragic flaw is that he sees the world in black and white and believes “once a criminal always a criminal” and he thinks it is his purposes to recapture Valjean after he broke his parole. Did not know how to show love, mercy, or forgiveness or receive it. He built his principles wrong and strictly follows the law and eventually commits suicide.

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Fantine- her lover abandoned her living her to raise her daughter, but it is dangerous knowing you have an illegitimate child so she left Cosette in the hands of the Thenardiers not knowing how poorly they were going to treat her. Fired from Valjean’s factory unfairly by the foreman, turned to prostitution to care for her child and later died, but she got to die knowing her child will be care for since Valjean promised he would raise Cosette

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Monsieur and Madame Thenardier- their inn went bankrupt and fell into extreme poverty

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Eponine- was raised to be a thief and criminal, unloved, abused, and neglected by her parents, living in extreme poverty and dealing with unrequited love from Marius, the only good thing in her life. Ended up dying after being shot, but got to die in the arms of the man she loves.

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Cosette- had a horrible childhood because the Thenardiers abused her and treated her like a servant. At the end of the show, she lost her father and even though she lives, she still had tragic things happen in her life. She only has Marius left in her life.

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Marius- faced loads of trauma at the barricade. He was the only survivor of the barricades. He first lost Eponine and later would loss the rest of his friends. At the end of the show, all he has is Cosette.

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Enjolras, Gavroche and Students-all lost their lives fighting for what they believed in. Gavroche is kicked out of his family at a very young age (he is Eponine’s little brother), but loved by the students

By seeing that each of these characters have faced tragedy in their life shows just how human Les Mis is. Many of them died and some of them have a very dark life or lost everything important to them. So these characters are very real because of what they had to face in their life.

Review of Les Mis

Just yesterday, I saw Les Mis in Greenville with Gardner Webb. It was my 5th time seeing it live and my 2nd time with a professional cast. With this production of Les Mis, I saw the 25th anniversary production. I had an understudy in this performance for Eponine, which was coincidental since last time I saw Les Mis, I had an understudy for Jean Valjean. I sat in the balcony towards the middle, which were impressive seats even though at first I didn’t know how much I would see since we were so high up, but still being up that high allowed me to see the entire stage.

Possible Spoilers on both plot and staging.

Leading the cast was Nick Cartell as Jean Valjean. He was such an impressive Jean Valjean. His version of “Bring Him Home” was so beautiful and sounded like a prayer and was quiet enough for what the scene required. He was warm and gentle around Cosette. It is amazing how his voice still had enough power when he was quiet during “Bring Him Home”. Then once again, he was quiet enough during his death scene. That is saying something because I was sitting in the balcony and I could still hear him even in quieter moments. During the scene where he let Javert go, he was able to act it to show that he forgave Javert.

Josh Davis was Javert and I felt like he had the right voice for Javert, but something felt off. He did a wonderful job during “Stars”. I had a hard time having an emotional connection to Javert. It is very hard to find common ground with Javert. I just do not know what it was, but something was off so he was weaker compared to Jean Valjean so part of their dynamic was off. Even though something felt way off in Javert, this production showed that Javert does have heart, which was shown when he saw the body of Gavroche when he went back to the barricades.

Melissa Mitchell was Fantine. She played Fantine as a naive young woman as opposed to a very desperate one. She played her naivety in a way that showed she was quite naive when she first became a prostitute because she did not quite understand that job at all at first even though she was fighting for the life of her daughter. She was so quiet in her death scene, but was still able to project to the balcony. It is heartbreaking that she is still thinking about her daughter during her death, but acted like she was thankful that Jean Valjean will be raising her daughter.

Sophie Knapp was such a wonderful Young Cosette. She has such a beautiful voice, which was clearly shown during “Castle on a Cloud”. She was small enough to look like she was eight at the time. She acted a bit nervous and scared around Madame Thenardier. Her “Castle on a Cloud” shows that she has hope that she will be rescued. She was quite a broken child.

Allision Guann as Madame Thenardier and J. Anthony Crane as Thenardier combined were hilarious like they needed to be. Allision Guann was able to be mean enough around Cosette and acted like she actually love her daughter, Eponine at the time. The Thenardiers’ version of “Master of the House” was quite hilarious and during the Bargain, the funny thing was the audience knew they were lying, which made it funny. Even during “Beggars at the Feast”, they were hilarious.

On to the youthful love triangle between Eponine, Marius and Cosette. This was such an innocent and youthful love triangle. Talia Simone Robinson as Eponine was an understudy and she was able to embody Eponine. During all of the Paris bits, she was very playful and flirty around Marius, but she still was able to express her heartbreak that he will never love her. “On My Own” was heartbreaking and at the end, I could hear tears coming from her, but she decides to continue to love Marius despite the unrequited love. “On My Own” demonstrates Eponine’s miserable and empty life and shows her strength and heartbreak over the unrequited love.

Jillian Butler as Cosette had such a beautiful soprano voice during both “In My Life” and “A Heart Full of Love”. Joshua Grosso as Marius was quite awkward during act I especially during “A Heart Full of Love”. It made the couple so cute and wonderful during that scene. When Marius first bumps into Cosette in Paris with Eponine standing in the back wasn’t fully effective, but feeling for all three was the most effective during “Heart Full of Love”. So I loved seeing the awkwardness during “A Heart Full of Love” and it was shown in a way that is like I am in love, but I don’t know what to do with it. This two were such a cute couple and I learned to love the two characters more.

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About Marius and Eponine, their version of “A Little Fall of Rain” was so believable. I really believed that Eponine was shot due to some of her non-verbals and noticing that it took effort to move since she was getting weaker as the song continued and she was also quiet enough. Joshua Grosso wasn’t heartbroken during the entire performance because he was comforting towards her and brave towards her. But when he ends the song with “grow”, that voice was so heartbreaking. It took him some time till he could say the word since he was quite stunned that Eponine died.

Joshua’s version of “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” was heartbreaking. Even during “Drink with Me”, when he sings about Cosette, it makes sense because he just lost Eponine and knows that most likely all of his friends will die and knows that if he survives, that he will only have Cosette.

Wow, Matt Shingledecker as Enjolras was such a passionate Enjolras. He brought out the intensity and passion that the character needed. All of the students were able to express their hope towards the rebellion. They also were able to show their passion towards the cause. Julian Emile Lerner was such a wonderful Gavroche. Even though he was just a boy, he keeps an eye on Paris and acts as if he runs the city. Despite being young, he had passion towards the cause as well.

About the ensemble, they were just so impressive. Their version of “One Day More” was so powerful and epic. Even in epic scenes like the opening or the second “Look Down”, there was the epicness that the songs required.

Wow, about the staging, I saw different staging than the West End. Even though the revolve wasn’t there, I still loved this staging. There was more color in this set. The different set pieces moved so smoothly between scenes. Like during “Paris/Look Down”, as the song continued, different areas opened up to show the scope of Paris. The paintings in the back actually moved some throughout the show. Those paintings gave a piece of Hugo in the show. The staging during the sewers showed how massive the sewers are and Valjean carried Marius in different ways. The staging during “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” adds even more emotion than the actor alone could do. During “Turning”, the women put candles down and then Marius comes out to sing the song and the students come out and pick up the candles and eventually blowing them out, which was a heartbreaking thing to watch.

About the sound system, the orchestra was so incredible. I could tell from the prologue that I would love the orchestra and they kept it together throughout the entire show. The sound system was incredible especially at the barricade. You could hear gunshots hit the back of the theatre so it felt like you were at the barricade.

So I would rate this production a 5/5 even though there were some actors that could have needed improvement such as Javert. But all in all, I loved this cast a lot, love the staging so much. Still such a beautiful story. To be honest, a more advanced staging gave more complexity to Les Mis. It was so good that I was an emotional wreck and that I ended up speechless.

Tomorrow, I plan to compare all three productions I have seen.

Enjolras and Jack Kelly

Today, I decided to talk about Enjolras and Jack Kelly. I first fell in love with Enjolras in 2013 and I first fell in love with Jack in 2016. Today, I will talk about their similarities and their differences.

Spoilers coming up:

First up is Enjolras from Les Mis. He is the student revolutionary leader. Of all the barricade boys, he is the most passionate, which is why his death is the most heartbreaking of all of them. He is a wonderful leader and stays passionate till the end.

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Then there is Jack Kelly from Newsies. Jack is the leader of the Newsies and the main character of the story. Jack is a dreamer and always hopes of going to Santa Fe. He is very protective of all the Newsies especially Crutchie. You see his beautiful relationship with Crutchie during “Santa Fe (Prologue). He doesn’t want Crutchie to be sent to the Refuge because he knows his friend will be quite vulnerable there. He cares about his brothers and never would abandon them.

He is the one to come up with the idea of having the strike after the distribution price of papers went up. During the big fight in act I, he sees Crutchie getting arrested and his boys getting hurt and that leads Jack into a lot of inner conflict. He was about ready to give up on the cause. In my opinion, that inner conflict makes Jack complex. It is Davey and Katherine that help him get out of his inner conflict. He eventually enters the strike again. It is just difficult to stay involved because he does not want his brothers to get hurt anymore and it is the strike that caused it. Even though he dreams of going to Santa Fe, he stays in New York at the end.

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Between these two characters, Enjolras is the most passionate about the cause. I still love both characters for different reasons. A lot of my love for Enjolras comes from the fact that he makes a wonderful leader and is the most passionate for the cause. A lot of my love for Jack comes from his relationship with Cructhie.

What are your opinions about these two characters.

Letter to Enjolras and the Barricade Boys

Dear Enjolras and the Barricade Boys,

I love all of you. One of the things I love about you all is how you take in Gavroche. He is like the mascot of the rebellion. I love how passionate and hopeful you are about the cause. I love the brotherly love you all have for each other. Enjolras, you make such a wonderful leader. You are the most passionate of all the boys. I know at “Drink With Me”, you feel like you have lost hope for the rebellion. The next day even though you know you are going to lose, you still stay passionate towards what you believe. All of guys are heroic through the entire rebellion.

What are your opinions on this group of students?

“Drink With Me” Analysis

[Feuilly]
Drink with me to days gone by
Sing with me the songs we knew

[Prouvaire]

Here’s to pretty girls who went to our head

[Joly]

Here’s to witty girls who went to our beds

Here’s to them and here’s to you

[Grantaire]

Drink with me to days gone by

Can it be you fear to die

Will the world remember you when you fall

Could it be your death means nothing at all?

Is your life just one more lie?

[Men]                                                                 [Women]

Drink with me                                                   Drink with me

To days                                                                To days

Gone by                                                               Gone by

To the life                                                           To the life

That used                                                           That used

To be                                                                    To be

[Women]

At the shrine of friendship never say die

[All]

Let the wine of friendship never run dry

[Men]                                                                         [Women]

Here’s to you                                                            Here’s to you

And here’s                                                                 And here’s

To me                                                                         To me

[Marius]

Do I care if I should die

Now she goes across the sea?

Life without Cosette means nothing at all

Would you weep, Cosette, should Marius fall?

Will you weep, Cosette

For me?

-Drink with Me, Les Mis

Today, I will be analyzing the song, “Drink With Me”. The lyrics above are the lyrics from the song. “Drink With Me”  is one of the lesser known songs, but it is quite an emotional and heartbreaking song. This song does not seem that heartbreaking the first time around, but eventually you will realize just how devastating and hopeless this song is.

Major Spoilers:

This song happens after Jean Valjean lets Javert go. In this song, the students realize that they will most likely lose the uprising and most likely are going to die. But once you know what is going to happen to all of them, this song becomes even more heartbreaking. In the musical, one attack has already happened and that is when Eponine dies. Marius is still heartbroken over her death at this point. You can clearly see the students’ brotherly love for each other. There is a big chance this will be the last time they will have a meal together.

This song talks about will people miss them if they die. They feel hopeless in this scene because the battle is going to be a lost cause. They know how outnumbered they are. Yes, Marius brings up Cosette, but if all of his friends die, all he has left will be Cosette. So this song is quite an intimate moment between all the students.

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Just to let you know, the final battle does end in rather heartbreaking results. All of the students (excluding Marius) die. So once you know what is going to happen, this song becomes even more heartbreaking. It happens so close to the final battle. Poor Marius, he faces a lot of trauma at the barricade. First he loses Eponine and in this scene he is still upset over her death, but then at the final battle, he will lose all of his friends. “Drink With Me” is a wonderful moment to show the students love for each other.

What are your thoughts on this song?

 

 

Enjolras and Fiyero

For some odd reason, I keep on comparing Enjolras and Fiyero. I don’t know why they seem similar because they seem oddly different. So in this post I will talk about the two of them.

Possible Spoilers:

Fiyero is the romantic male lead in Wicked. Both Glinda and Elphaba, two best friends, fall in love with him. He starts out as this rather rude, annoying, and cool guy. But as the show continues, he really does mature and become courageous as well. He adds a big curveball into the love triangle found in Wicked. In act I, he is in a relationship with Glinda. But there are hints in that act pointing out that he does have a crush on Elphaba, but he doesn’t seem aware of it. So in act II after hearing rumors spread about Elphaba, he realizes in that moment that he is in love with Elphaba and breaks up with Glinda in order to have a relationship with Elphaba so there is an unrequited love jump in this musical.

Where does his courageous nature come from? Well, right after the catfight scene, guards are about to arrest Elphaba, but Fiyero comes and demands that they let her go. So he is risking his life in order to save Elphaba and because of what he did, he was sent into the field to possibly be tortured, and Elphaba desperately tries to save him and ends up turning him into a scarecrow. But the two of them are a mature couple and you just don’t expect them to get together because 1) Elphaba is green so she doesn’t think she is good enough for him and 2) he used to be in a relationship with Glinda.

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So why does he seem similar to Enjolras? Enjolras is the student revolutionary leader in Les Mis. Out of the entire group, he is the most passionate and the most courageous so it makes sense that he is the leader. But nothing seems to pinpoint exactly why I think he is like Fiyero. The only thing I can think of is that they both are courageous. One thing I do know is that actors tend to play both of them.

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Does anyone have an idea? Do you find them to be parallels of each other?