I went to the matinee show of Les Misérables on Wednesday September 26, and overall it was really really great show! :-)
Though I had booked fairly late I had somehow managed to get a fantastic seat, A10, which is exactly what it sounds like - first row, almost in the middle!
Quite amazing, I haven't had a seat like that since I saw Phantom of the Opera in Stockholm in 1995!!
You get so up close to the stage, and if we stretched a bit, we could see the orchestra which was totally cool! The conductor was a really nice guy and as he was doing last minute preparations before the show he suddenly turned around to us and said: "Good afternoon! I hope you enjoy the show!" :-)
I got so much out of the show, the performances from the actors and the attention to detail that a stage production like this actually pays, from sitting so close to the stage. I had for instance not previously seen the burn mark on Valjean's chest, which is visible both in the beginning of the show and when he goes before the court at the end of "Who am I?" - and I had not seen the fact that he has the number 24601 on his prison clothes!
When it comes to details it was almost too much so in "A Little Fall of Rain", as there was more blood there then I would have thought!
Another thing I hadn't seen before occurred during the fight on the barricade, when Valjean comes to join the students. It is not until the first fight is over and Enjolas says "Marius, rest!" that Valjean knows who Marius is! It was quite clear in this show that that was the moment he discovered who Marius was among all the students.
I also actually never knew how much 'in contact' the conductor is with the actors on stage. Of course, now I realized he'd have to be in order to time the music, but I'd never really thought about it before. It was quite clear as I sat so close to them, the conductor at times looked more at the stage than at the orchestra! Very cool! Also impressive to see how well the conductor read some of the actors, it was almost as if he could sense, through a look or a turn of the head, when the actor was going to start singing. Amazing!
As for the performers, for the most part, I was really really lucky and had an amazing cast!!
Gerónimo Rauch - Jean Valjean
He did a very good job with a difficult part, he definitely has the vocal capacity for the part, and for me, the ultimate "test" of a good Valjean is "Bring Him Home", which is probably the most difficult song to do really well - and Rauch passed the test! :-) He also possessed stage presence and charisma which is very important. The only thing I have to say that I'm not very pleased with is the fact that because of his choices on intonation he often had to sing certain parts very quickly, and that meant that he didn't have the time to articulate properly ... It happened every now and again, and while I know the entire musical by heart, it was still a bit disturbing to me (I imagine even more so to some one not quite so familiar with the musical).
While I still have to say, David Shannon will probably always be my Jean Valjean, Gerónimo Rauch did a very good job!!
Tam Mutu - Javert
Javert is my favourite character in the show and so I do have high demands on the actor who plays him ... unfortunately, this time I was quite disappointed. Everybody is different, and Mutu had a great support in the audience, but I can't say that I liked how he interpreted the part.
During the first act I felt he was way to soft and did not portray the authority of Javert (at times I almost felt it would have been better if Rauch and Mutu had swapped parts there ... until I remembered that Valjean is a tenor-part and Javert is baritone - so a change might not have been such a good idea after all *lol*).
I felt that Mutu had a strange intonation in most of the songs and put emphasis not quite where it was supposed to be, which - to me - made his character quite strange and hard to figure out. "Stars" is one of my favourite songs but I didn't make much sense of it here.
Sierra Boggess - Fantine
This was the first time I truly realized how difficult the part of Fantine must be to play. She doesn't have that much stage time but still has to go through so much and portray so many different emotions. I can't say that Boggess was an outstanding favourite of mine, but she did do a very good job with the part!
Samatha Dorsey - Cosette
Hands down, my favourite Cosette!! No doubt whatsoever!
I usually find the character very difficult to understand, I have never quite figured Cosette out and no matter how talented actresses I have seen playing the part, I just don't get it ... Until now. Dorsey managed to play on Cosette's innocence without making her silly and awkward, but instead keeping the sweetness of the child singing "Castle on a Cloud". Amazing!!!
Cameron Blakely- Thénardier
He did a good job, the character is quite easy to "like" (if you know what I mean), and most of the songs and scenes he's in are very funny - can't say that he was a favourite, but still, quite all right!
Linzi Hately- Mme Thénardier
Fantastic to see Linzi Hately live again - saw her in an International Tour of Chess a number of years ago, and she is very talented!! I liked the fact that they hadn't given her quite so much make-up as Mme Thénardier usually has, and to me this was a fast improvement. I have never quite understood why she had to look like some cartoon character, and I have to say I enjoyed the character more this time, as she somehow felt more 'real'. Hately is so talented and for me, who had previously seen her in quite a serious part, it was wonderful to see her do comedy, and do it SO well!
Helen Owen - Eponine
Helen Owen was the understudy for Eponine and she completely blew me away!! My favourite Eponine too! She was absolutely fantastic, and she balanced the difficult mix of tough street kid with innocent girl in love in an amazing way! "On my Own" was absolutely fabulous!!
Craig Mather - Marius
Yes, another favourite!! Third favourite in one show, not bad, right?! Craig Mather portrayed Marius better then anyone I've ever seen before, mostly because his understanding of the character, and the character development that takes place during this show!! Marius singing "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" is a quite different person from the young rebel student, bumping in to Cosette - "I didn't see you there, forgive me!" - and falling instantly in love. Mather is the first actor who really played through the changes the character experiences, and I really loved that!
Liam Tamne - Enjolras
Not my absolute favourite Enjolras (don't think I really have found one yet, actually!), but I really liked his interpretation of the character! I felt he, more than many others, emphasized the fact that Enjolras is more experienced than the other students, he is their leader and he is really the only one of them who truly realizes what they are about to get themselves into. The lyrics speak of it, but I don't think I've seen an actor really act it out as clearly as Tamne did! Great job!
The kids were adorable of course - they always are ... unfortunately I never figured out who played in the show I saw! :/
I especially liked Little Cosette, who was absolutely fantastic and SO sweet - she was played by either Anya Evans or Ashley Goldberg.
All in, while I am a bit disappointed that my favourite character didn't quite see Javert as I see him, it was a really great show!! Fantastic seat, learned so many new things and found three new favourites! Fantastic!!!
Some pictures from the souvenir brochure: (and I do apologize for the quality ... I have been stressing all day, so it was these pictures or no pictures at all!)