…and the quest to see everything

Seminal Television/Theatre: Les Mis

I’m a “Les Mis” noob and a musical noob, so don’t take the bad parts of this post seriously. In a time of rock and cabaret musicals, it’s kind of refreshing to have a traditional musical like “Les Mis.”

ph. PBS

Marius (Nick Jonas) sings a stanza or two and Eponine (Samantha Barks) belts out one line and blows him out of the arena. Although Jonas can sing if he’s alone on stage. Did you know that she was on a reality TV show before this? Also, I like her Eponine even if that means its treasonous to like her rendition’s over national treasure Lea Salonga. Barks’ Eponine is melancholy and mature while Salonga’s Eponine fifteen years ago had this childlike glow but singing as if she’s already fleeting away.

Before I get to Salonga I keep thinking about how many fangirls are there who are on team Eponine. There are a handful of supporting characters in a musical dignified with “It’s my song about dramatic solitude/before I exit and go to craft services/And ignore insignificant bit players….” But the sweeping notes and poetry of ‘On My Own,’ ‘A Little Fall of Rain’ or even Fantine’s ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ trump some of the leads’ songs.

Speaking which, I do like Salonga as Fantine. If she is singing lower because of age, that doesn’t stop her emotion from pouring into the songs. She’s best when admitting about her daughter Cosette (Katie Hall) to the Foreman, or showing her hatred while immersed in the world’s oldest profession. She gets cool points for playing the latter. The book for this musical’s very angry, emo and sad even for my mom, and thankfully the score balances most of the anger out.

Either way, I’m hooked on the musical now. There’s a greenlit film version scheduled for a 2013 release. I guess they have to get stars to play Valjean, Javert and Cosette, but Barks and Salonga better be there, Heck, you can put Jonas in the movie version too. Also, if you have YouTube clips to prove me wrong about who is the best who, go ahead.

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One response

  1. Encore Entertainment

    Le Miz always baffles me for the same reason you point out, I don’t think I’m a fan of any of Cosette’s song except for “A Heart Full of Love” and that’s only because I like the part where Eponine comes in and they all that singing in rounds. Hee.

    Speaking of syncopated singing, though, the only solos I really like are Fantine’s (not a big Patti LuPone fan but she DESTROYS “Fantine’s Death) and Eponine’s (and I have a weird love for “Empty Chairs”). But the duets are great (especially The Confrontation which almost everyone forgets.)

    Okay, theatre buff freak-out. I’m shutting up now.

    (It’s weird, though Hugo’s HUNCHBACK is a much better novel than LES MIZ for me, and yet the former’s legacy is in a forgotten Disney incarnation. Shame.)

    March 15, 2011 at 3:29 pm

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