…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.

The Theatre: Duel of Ages

A teacher of mine in the Philippines had a story when they went to the provinces, one of the tribal areas, when one of the tourists ‘lost’ a pair of expensive sneakers. An old tribesman accuses a younger tribesman of stealing said sneakers, the two then having to settle this question of honour themselves. Everyone thought the younger man would win due to physical advantage, but when the ‘bolos’ were thrown, the older man actually hit the younger man in the arm. The younger man’s property was checked and there the sneakers were.

ph. where.ca

I remember this story while I was watching “Duel of Ages,” a show from True Edge Productions. “Duel of Ages” is a series of nine duels that portray the evolution of the mostly illegal practice from medieval France to the Wild West to the revisionist history of duels as depicted in silent cinema. There’s also a scene about the dying Samurai class, a Samurai training his son that is the most human in the show full of comic relief, tension and crisp, well choreographed fights. And as unprofessional as this sounds, I think I got a new crush from one of the duelists.