I think one of the most powerful things about musicals belong to the actors and actresses. They shape our views of the characters and our views of the musical itself. If we are seeing a show a second or third or even fourth time, we find something new. Our first actor or actress in a role gives us our first impression of a character. Every audience member sees the same actor very differently. I might absolutely love a particular actor or actress, but the audience member next to me might not. There is nothing wrong with that: we just are interpreting it differently.
The actors and actresses we end up with is based on many factors: when we see the musical, where we are seeing it, the country we live in, the musicals we want to see and the time plus whether or not we get an understudy. Must If you get an understudy, RESPECT them no matter what. Our first impression of a character is usually important. If we see a musical more than once, we end up combining actor’s portrayals: that is the case for Les Mis and Wicked characters. I have seen those musicals more than once. Wicked was seen four times on stage. Les Mis, I watched the film, the 25th concert, and three stage casts. So my first impression of the characters of Les Mis belonged to the film. There is usually a certain actor or actress that makes us fall in love with a character.
Here are some actors and actresses that have made a lasting impact on me: movies and stage
Lisa Karlin- She was my Leading Player. She was the standout when I saw Pippin. I loved the way she presented herself. Like in “Magic to Do”, she was very playful, but I could detect a small amount hint of “evil”, Then in songs like “Glory”, she got rid of the playfulness and showed her craftiness and darkness more. She was playful around Pippin to make it seem that he could trust her. She played her as very crafty, manipulative, dark, sneaky, and playful. She even can trick the audience into believing that she was leading Pippin on the right path.
Joey Barreiro- He was my first Jack. I have seen two fantastic Jacks after him. But still to this day, Joey is still my favorite Jack. I fell in love with Jack all because of Joey. He had this incredible dreamy, romantic, and innocent nature. He showed Jack’s inner conflict perfectly and was able to act as a leader.
Samantha Barks- she was my first Eponine. She was the reason why I developed a beautiful bond with Eponine in the first place. She is such a very talented Eponine. She perfectly showed how alone Eponine is. She was very believable as that girl. If it was not for her, I do not know if I would have fallen in love with Eponine. To this day, still is my favorite Eponine.
Mary Kate Morrissey- True, I fell in love with Elphaba before her, but she is the Elphaba I remember the most. I saw her as standby on tour in 2016. She embodied Elphaba perfectly. She was able to bring something new to the role. She understood the role perfectly. She made me appreciate a song I always hated, and for once felt emotions in “No Good Deed”. She even altered her voice: in act I, her voice sounded innocent, but in act II, her voice was mature.
Amanda Jane Copper- She was in the same cast as Mary Kate Morrissey. you NEVER can have a brilliant Elphaba without an excellent Glinda and vice versa. Amanda was an excellent Glinda, which meant “For Good” was perfectly. Her Glinda kept on making me laugh in all of Glinda’s funny lines and she perfectly expressed Glinda’s pain in act II.
Ashley Parker Angel- I loved what he did to the role. He acted the lion cub scene as if he had a crush on Elphaba, but deep down does not seem to know it. So act I had some foreshadowing going on. I wanted to get to the bottom of this love triangle plot twist. He already decided to make his chemistry weaker with Glinda then with Elphaba.
Jeremy Secomb- I saw him in the West End. I struggle with Javert so much. Jeremy is the only Javert I have seen that I have felt sympathy for, and that is why he had a lasting impact on me.
Joshua Grosso- I already made this clear. He became my favorite Marius. What happens when your favorite character in the Les Mis love triangle is Eponine, but your strongest actor is Marius? That is what happened in November of last year. He was charming and awkward. He treated falling in love with Cosette like “I’m in love, but what to do with it”. At the barricades, people might think he isn’t showing enough emotion during “A Little Fall of Rain”, but it works. He focused more on comforting Eponine. Wait till the end- he almost acted a bit stunned- he did not say a word until about 5-10 seconds- then said “grow” and the way he said it hurt. So he still was able to show his hurt. His “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” was very heartbreaking. So he embodied Marius perfectly and changed my perception of him.
He made Marius nearly a core favorite Les Mis character. I saw something in his Marius that made him shine.
I could have talked about all actors and actresses that have had a lasting impact on me, but the list could have taken too long.