Thursday, 13 August 2009

I Have Found My Jean Valjean!

(Apologies for the lack of pictures, I haven't been able to make any scans from the actual programme yet ...)

Les Misérables - June 27, 2009

We went to see Les Misérables on June 27, and to be honest I was a bit nervous, because I entered Queens Theatre with a terrible migraine and nausea! However, after hearing the wonderful intro, I was completely into the musical, and even though the migraine was worse after the show, at least it didn’t bother me during the show – and that’s the main thing!

I have to say this was one of the best – perhaps THE best – Les Misérables show I have ever seen!!! First and foremost, I have finally found my Jean Valjean!!! Ever since I got into Les Miz some ten years ago I have tried finding a really great Valjean, but never succeeded. I have seen a few perform live and I have a number of recordings (quite a few actually!!), but no one has caught my eye completely – except David Shannon!! At first I hardly dared to believe it, and toward the end I was at the edge of my seat, wondering if he’d last the distance or if he’d make some unforgivable mistake toward the end. And he didn’t!! According to me, he was perfect in every respect! He handled all the songs in a wonderful way, he didn’t go over-the-top, which I find difficult to handle, and he just WAS Jean Valjean!! I really, really, really, really want to see him to the part again!!

Javert was played by Earl Carpenter, Annika had seen him last year and was quite impressed, so I was very curious! And I have to say I have mixed feelings for him, similar to the way I felt for Hans Peter Jansens in 2006. Carpenter was good most of the time, but sometimes I felt he was a little too soft. To me, Javert is almost ruthless and keeps standing strong, even when he decides to take his own life, and at times Carpenter felt a bit meek. But his voice was really pleasant and overall, he did a good job!

Rebecca Seale, who played Fantine, was also rather uneven. She portrayed the frail, careful Fantine in a very good way, and “Fantine’s Death” was wonderful and very emotional – but the more forward and driven Fantine didn’t quite work out.

The Thénardiers was funny as usual, and I was pleasantly surprised to see Martin Ball as Monsieur Thénardier, because they had apparently found a guy that wasn’t only extremely funny, but was also a terrific actor and singer! I think he was fairly new (if memory serves, he started out at the cast change earlier in June), and he messed up the lyrics in “Master of the House” a little … Like last time, it felt like “The Wedding” was funnier than “Master of the House”, and in my head, I can’t help feeling it should be the other way around!

The kids did a great job, I’m always sooo impressed at these very young girls and boys handling the stage in such a fantastic way! Young Cosette was beautiful and did a very good “Castle on a Cloud”, but you could tell she was quite new, she was a little stiff and probably rather nervous. Gavroche, played by George Sargeant, was really good – it’s not an easy part, but he could really pull it off. Apart from a few minor mistakes, he truly embodied Gavroche!

Cosette was played by Katie Hall, who I’m sure is very talented! I really liked her voice, but unfortunately I’m having great difficulties in figuring out the character, I have never ever understood Cosette, and that does affect my general opinion as well.

David Thaxton played Enjolras – he was Bamatabois in 2006 (and totally creepy!!) as well as understudy for Enjolras, and I think he was a fairly good Enjolras! He’s not the best I’ve seen but I don’t have anything against him. On the positive side, he really had the voice potential that Enjolras demands. I have seen actors in the part who are out voiced by the powerful music, but David Thaxton had a very very powerful and forceful voice which was great! Unfortunately he didn’t quite have the charisma that I feel Enjolras has to have – in order to get the other students to follow him, he needs something special, and I didn’t feel like Thaxton had that!

Grantaire was played by Jeff Nicholson (who also did the part in 2006), and I really like him. I have had difficulties in grasping that part as well before, but Jeff Nicholson really gives the character life!

Nancy Sullivan played Eponine, and it was a change to see a blond Eponine! She was however, amazing and one of the stars of the show! She did such an amazing job of the character that I can’t help but commenting on one thing. She did use very proper English, and considering the dialect of the Thénardiers and her character as a street kid, I would have liked her to go a little bit more cockney … the contrast ended up feeling a little bit strange. But overall, she was fantastic!!

I have to say it was a really nice audience, I think there were lots of people who hadn’t seen the show before and that was really cool! Lots of laughs and also some shouts at times! :) I also have to mention a funny thing during the curtain call – Earl Carpenter must have had his own little “fan club” of friends there, for when he entered the stage, there were some booing from mid-stalls!! It was apparently in good spirit, and it was quite funny to see the expression on Carpenter’s face!!

Despite feeling pretty terrible, I really enjoyed the show, and I think what I’m mostly carrying with me from it is the fact that I Have Found My Jean Valjean!


The Darkest Night said...

Great review!! I really liked reading it! :-)

I'm glad you finally found your Valjean!! I did like him a lot too (but have a bit of trouble deciding if he was better than Drew Sarrich or not LOL)...

For me I'd say this production was more about finding my Javert, as I felt I could FINALLY understand the character (hey, I even got "Stars"...LOL).... And I agree that Eponine was really wonderful!

Jessica said...

Thanks! :D

It's always difficult trying to "compare" performers, especially if you think both of them did a good job!

And YAY for Javert! *lol* You finally figured out my guy! :D :D

The Darkest Night said...

Yeah, especially since I have only seen each of them one time...and when I saw Drew I thought he was SO good...and when I saw David I thought he was SO so a bit hard to remember who really was the better one ;-)

Yeah!! All thanks to the wonderful Earl Carpenter! LOL