We have those musicals. They are the musicals we have seen more than once. That means we have more one actor and actress portraying the character. We end up combining the actors and actresses for our full interpretation. They might show the same personality trait in a different way. The same applies with the emotions: one actor might bring out a different collection of emotions: yes, some emotions always have to be there, but certain emotions will vary. Why is it so important to combine actors and actresses
There are complex characters. They have many layers. It is hard for one actor and actress to show everything. I have seen Wicked four times and I have seen Les Mis five times. The thing with Les Mis is that I have 5 casts: the 3 stage casts and the film and the 25th concert film. With those two shows, I have combined actors to create one character. I only remember one Elphaba, Fiyero, and Glinda, who are Mary Kate Morrissey, Ashley Parker Angel, and Amanda Jane Copper, but what I do know is that from the beginning, each time I see the show, I discover something new about Elphaba- see what I mean, when you discover something new, it makes the character more complex. Mary Kate Morrissey embodied everything about Elphaba while still bringing something new: she made me appreciate a song I always hated: I felt emotions in “No Good Deed” for once- they finally stuck, and because I came in finally realizing “I’m Not That Girl” was a heartbreaking song, I paid closer attention to the song.
Who are all my Les Mis actors and actresses? I had to go into one playbill to figure one of my casts out- my Central Piedmont Community College Cast. These are casts from the film, Central Piedmont Community College, 25th concert film, West End, and US Tour. My interpretations of these characters is a combination. I am the one who has seen five actors and actresses play all of these parts: the only exception is Eponine: I have seen four actresses plays her. My latest cast, the US Tour, I did not compare to the West End. Below are all my Les Mis principal actors/actresses. I want to say that my 2nd group of actor/actresses (my CPCC batch), I saw live 3 times- I saw it once with family and twice as an usher.
Jean Valjean: Hugh Jackman, Ryan Deal, Alfie Boe, Adam Bayjou (understudy), Nick Cartell
Javert: Russell Crowe, Brian McCarthy, Norm Lewis, Jeremy Secomb, Josh Davis
Fantine: Anne Hathaway, Lucia Stetson, Lea Salonga, Rachelle Ann Go, Melissa Mitchell
Cosette: Amanda Seyfried, Caroline Kasay, Katie Hall, Zoe Doano, Jillian Butler
Marius: Eddie Redmayne, Erik D’Esterre, Nick Jonas, Rob Houchen, Joshua Grosso
Eponine: Samantha Barks, Kayla Ferguson, Samantha Barks, Carrie Hope Fletcher, Talia Simone Robinson (understudy)
Monsieur Thenardier: Sacha Baron Cohen, Kevin Roberge, Matt Lucas, Phil Daniels, J. Anthony Crane
Madame Thenardier: Helena Bonham Carter, Karen Erbe, Jenny Galloway, Katy Secombe, Allison Guinn
Enjolras: Aaron Tveit, Harrison Bumgardner, Ramin Kairmloo, Bradley Jaden, Matt Shingledecker
What was interesting about my Les Mis actors and actresses is that I saw them in a limited amount of time. They literally came from the years 2013-2017. I saw the stage show at CPCC and the 25th anniversary concert film in 2013, saw the West End production in 2015, and saw the US Tour in 2017: so limited amount of time. I remember thinking “I don’t relate to Eponine, why do I love her”- it took an entire year to figure that out. The film actors were my first impression of the characters. My second cast, I barely remember, but do remember they felt professional: you never would expect a community college cast to feel that way. They still played a part in my interpretation of the characters. I ended up watching the 25th concert film all because Samantha Barks played Eponine.
The West End production. It was interesting that I had read the unabridged book the same summer. My excitement level was pretty high. The fact I was living my dream added something incredible to their portrayals. I was expecting a lot from those actors and actresses considering the fact it was the West End. One note told me- “this was going to be more than expected”- and I was right. The ensemble exceeded- I never knew an ensemble could exceed expectations- I thought only principal actors and actresses could do that. I did have an understudy (Adam Bayjou), and there was no way of knowing. For the first time, I felt sympathy for Javert- that says something because I do not like Javert. I could continue talking about those actors, but it could take forever. The dynamics were extremely strong: the love triangle dynamic, the Valjean/Javert dynamic and the dynamic found between the students were stronger than I thought they could be.
I thought it was a coincidence that I had an understudy for the West End and the US Tour. I made a smart decision coming into the tour: DON’T COMPARE THE CAST TO THE WEST END CAST- smart decision. I wanted to make the most of the US cast, and considering the fact I had an understudy for Eponine, I knew how to treat her. Talia’s Eponine was stronger than Kayla’s Eponine’s: don’t know how I knew that when my community college cast is a blur. The most interesting thing about my love triangle on tour is that Joshua Grosso (Marius) was the strongest actor: he added awkwardness to Marius- that made him more charming- he embraced everything I previously knew about the character, which I figured out through the four other actors. So literally, my favorite character in the love triangle is Eponine, but the strongest actor in the love triangle was Marius. In this version of Fantine, she showed the more naive side instead of the very desperate side I saw in the West End. They dynamic that was equally as strong as on the West End was the one found between the students. I wasn’t going to say everything or else that would take too long.
So literally, my interpretation of the Les Mis characters is a combination of these actors and actresses- some of them have played a huge impact in how I view the character, and some have played a small impact. I don’t have a clear memory of all of those actors and actresses- in particular my CPCC actors..
See what I mean- different actors and actresses show you something different about the same character. You combine actors- they might show the same emotion, but in a different way. They can bring different personality traits. That is why combining portrayals are very important.