…and the quest to see everything

Seminal TV: Samatha Barks

While writing and procrastinating, I decided to have a midnight snack-like Youtube break. Guiding my choices was the overjoyed news that Taylor Swift will no longer play Eponine in Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables and is replaced by stage vet and Nick Jonas’ girlfriend Samantha Barks. She, by the way, joined a elimination-style reality show called “I’d Do Anything” years back, the show’s objective being to find a singer/actress to play Nancy in a West End revival for the musical “Oliver.” She can sing all right, effortlessly making her voice go to eleven without moving a muscle away from her smile. But during results show performances she’s always a kicker or a bridge, letting the other contestants out-act or out-sass her, and the same goes during the sing offs. Had this been a Tyra show, she’d been out during the middle of the show for being ‘boring.’

Then my search veered into the missions the contestants had to do to understand Nancy, some of which involved behaving like Nancy. Now let’s see if the woman can act. Sometimes she just stands there but mostly she has a confident presence, which isn’t the same thing as strong. In some challenge she doesn’t show fear or, on the clip below, weakness, when she’s supposed to. I have faith for her in drama, I just hope shoe doesn’t revert to her early days. But she’s made progress in three years with her voice breaking as the perma-anguished Eponine as part of the 25th anniversary Les Mis concert. Despite her voice, she admits to not being a perfect actress. That’s one out of two, better than Swift’s batting average.

3 responses

  1. I hadn’t really heard of her before, but am really excited for Les Miserables and was glad to hear that they had cast someone who can really sing well for this part. It seems like she has a great personality, so if the film plays well I can definitely see her in Oscar contention next year.

    March 4, 2012 at 2:01 pm

  2. For someone who keeps saying he only “likes” Les Miz I do a bad job of avoiding it (I have the London recording, the Complete Symphonic, the Broadway recording, the Dream Cast recording, and the 25th anniversary).

    For me, the one true Eponine will always be Frances Rufelle. It’s the only role I think that only person can play and Samantha’s voice just comes off as too conventionally sweet for Eponine, but eh. Whatever. And, I like Tom Hooper but I still don’t think there is much lucidity in trying to transfer this to the screen. We’ll see. HBC is there, so I’m there.

    (That being said, I want them to do a complete recording of the complete score and I won’t care if the film is bad or not. The music is the best thing, and the film could never have the entire score. And, I want the entire score.)

    March 4, 2012 at 7:23 pm

  3. NeverToEarlyMP: She deserves a place within the contenders. She, for a first-time film actress, gets a plum role on a brass platter. It’s still one of musical theatre’s mysteries how she gets the most attention even though I remember Cosette more when reading parts of the book. Although I don’t know how Anne Hathaway will campaign and how, in either way the latter does it, will screw up Barks’ chances.

    Andrew: I’ve only heard the one song from Frances Rufelle and Youtube versions of Salonga’s take on Eponine. Rufelle has the girlish, shrunken vulnerability while Salonga has the diction. Barks has the projection although she’s great with the smaller songs and is kind of just ok with the major ones. All three are great, and should to be biased towards Salonga for obvious reasons, but I like how Barks sustains the emotion throughout the concerts.

    And personally, I just wanted to see Hooper do East of Eden with Kristen Stewart first.

    March 4, 2012 at 8:22 pm

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