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|Index||25 reviews in total|
Les Miserables is, quite simply, the finest musical ever made, and this
special anniversary performance encapsulates exactly why.
It had been many years since I saw 'Les Mis' on stage in London, and other than listening to it on CD semi-regularly, I hadn't had much experience of the show until receiving the 25th anniversary concert on Blu-Ray. Prior to then, 'Phantom' was by a mile my favourite musical, with no others close. Les Miserables blows them all out of the water.
The story is simple enough. A paroled man tries to rebuild his life with adopted daughter Cosette, against the backdrop of student rebellions in France. Meanwhile Marius, one of the students, and Cosette fall in love. Yet the plot is little more than something to drape the music around, and for that it serves its purpose admirably, giving depth, context and emotion to the magnificent music. Much has been written about the plot's simplicity, which needs little more than a couple of captions and video clips to drive it on, and the similarly simple staging also needs little analysis. Both serve to focus all attention on the music, adding to the raw power of the show.
The music ranges from the comedic (Master of the House) to the tragic (On My Own) to the operatic (Bring Him Home) and the simply spine-tingling (One Day More). No other musical has the power to raise hairs and bring goosebumps throughout, and at the same time bring entire audiences to tears look out during the standing ovation (one of many) towards the end for a lady with mascara streaming down her face from tears, demonstrating the emotional power of the music. In any other musical, ask fans to name their favourite song, and they will usually all pick from the same few. But with Les Miserables, fans would be hard-pressed to limit their choices to a top 10, with 'I Dreamed a Dream', 'Stars', 'Do You Hear The People Sing', 'One Day More', 'On My Own', 'Bring Him Home' and 'Empty Chairs' not even half the regular list of favourites! The casting is near-perfect. Having seen much of the original cast in the 10th anniversary production way back in my school days, and all but worn out the CD of the original cast recording, I never thought anybody could surpass Colm Wilkinson's definitive performance as the hero Valjean. Yet Alfie Boe does that superbly. His vocal range and emotion invested into the music equals that of his legendary predecessor, but he is also able to bring a power and resonance that gives operatic scale and strength to his performance. His dramatic renditions of solos such as 'What Have I Done?' and 'Who Am I?' are spine-chilling, thanks to the strength with which he is able to hit and hold the big notes, while his 'Bring Him Home' is quite simply awesome. Yet he is not alone. Norm Lewis's Javert is virtually his equal in emotional range, and Ramin Karimloo as Enjolras and Katie Hall as Cosette are also excellent. Matt Lucas, in a slightly leftfield casting choice, is surprisingly entertaining as the roguish Thernadier. While never claiming to be a first-rate singer, Lucas makes up for this by enjoying what obviously is a long leash given to him to put his own spin on the character, really hamming up the comical villainy and providing some genuine hilarity amongst all the weepies. Special mention must be made of the performance of Samantha Barks as the feisty Eponine. While Frances Ruffelle was excellent as the original, Samantha Barks sets a new benchmark, bringing a genuine heart-wrenching pitiable quality, leading audiences to virtually want to beat Marius over the head for not seeing her true feelings, and her haunting solo in one of the show's signature songs On My Own becomes a real tear-jerker.
Which brings us to Marius. The casting of Nick Jonas, of Jonas Brothers fame, is little more than a casting publicity stunt, and one which almost backfires catastrophically. Quite simply, Jonas is leagues out of his depth, and his voice has not the power nor range to do justice to the role, and he comes across as a typical boy band singer, and a barely adequate one at that. His voice seems small and tinny next to the emotion of Barks or the raw power of Boe. Even his facial expressions come straight from Backstreet Boys 101! He is clearly there as a blatant stunt to draw in younger fans who would buy this just on seeing his name in the cast, a move which comes across as cynical and could cost the performance a star on its own. To be fair to Jonas however, by the time Marius's signature number of 'Empty Chairs at Empty Tables' arrives, he seems to have grown into the part somewhat and sings it reasonably well. Yet when Michael Ball comes onstage for the encore with the rest of the original cast to belt out 'One Day More', you cannot help but feel 'now that is how it should be done!' But even Jonas' potentially disastrous performance cannot prevent this spectacular production of the world's longest running musical from achieving full marks. The music is out of this world, the singing is almost universally phenomenal and the setting of the O2 is suitably grand. It is impossible to fully articulate the raw power of the emotions stirred by the spectacular songs of Les Miserables, but I defy anybody not to be moved to near tears, left breathless and feel a chill throughout the show, and if you are not moved, then you are either lying or dead inside, particularly given the extra treat of seeing the original cast reunite for 'One Day More' and the four Valjeans singing 'Bring Him Home' a wonderful bonus.
Many musicals encompass a range of emotions, but none run the whole gamut with quite the same power as Les Miserables. Awe-inspiring. Perfect.
I'm not an expert on "Les Miserables," but as a former opera singer, I
am an expert on singing. The 25th concert celebration is very
Led by the rapturously voiced Alfie Boe as Jean Valjean, the cast includes Broadway singer Norm Lewis as Javert, Lea Solanga as Fantine, Nick Jonas as Marius, Ramin Karimloo as Enjoras, Samantha Barks as Eponine, Katie Hall as Cosette, Jenny Galloway as Mme. Thenardier and Matt Lucas as Monsieur Thenardier.
The performances were filled with excitement, emotion, and beauty, with only a couple of weak links, one being Nick Jonas as Marius. He worked very hard, but his voice didn't fare well in comparison with the others. Since he's a member of the Jonas Brothers, it's obvious that the producers wanted to bring the youngsters to the theater. Judging by his applause, they succeeded. The other weak link was Matt Lucas as Monsieur Thenardier, whom I had trouble understanding.
The rest of the cast is terrific, with Alfie Boe passionate and sensational as Valjean, Norm Lewis, an intense, formidable Javert, Lea Solanga, a glorious Fantine, the beautiful, lyrically voiced Katie Hall as Cossette, and the British version of Lea Michele, Samantha Barks, a powerful Eponine. All of these singers knocked it out of the park with not only their vocal beauty but the emotion of their performances.
At the end of the concert, we were introduced to the original 1985 cast, the international tour cast, and the current cast, and we were able to hear Colm Wilkinson, John Owen-Jones, Simon Bowman and Alfie Boe sang "Bring Him Home." There was also an appearance by Michael Ball, the original London Marius, and several others, as well as the composers, the lyricist, and the producer, Cameron Mackintosh, all very rich men.
The audience went crazy, and with good reason. The music of "Les Miserables" is very stirring and thrilling, and when sung and acted well, as it is here, it's a real treat.
Every performance was impeccable. Many of the performers rival and in
some cases surpass those of the 10th Anniversary Dreamcast. Seeing the
show on the big screen with a bigger sound system really make the
nuances of the genius score come to life. What is so great is the way
they made use of soft split screens to be able to watch multiple
performers' reactions and "dialog."
Norm Lewis, whose subtle facial expressions and genuine passion commanded the stage/screen, sang Javert with such power and depth that I actually, for the first time, empathized with his character. Alife Boe's Val Jean was brilliant, with an operatic quality. Samantha Barks shined as Eponine with a stunning vocal performance. Ramin Karimloo was a standout with his brilliant portrayal of Enjolras. I didn't quite understand the decision of casting Nick Jonas as Marius. He really gave it his all and had some nice moments in the sweeter songs, but lacked the vocal fullness and attack for the more powerful songs. It was adequate but uncomfortably contrasted by his much stronger, seasoned cast mates.
The occasional cut to various instrumental highlights was a wonderful addition and seamlessly included the orchestra as an important part of the ensemble. The encores with the original cast, backed by a chorus of hundreds was breathtaking. If you're a Les Mis fan, this movie is a must.
Les Misérables has been around for a long time, pleasing audiences
around the world - its songs are recorded by an vast array of singers
and its impact on audiences is justifiably powerful. Though this
filming of the concert production of the musical as performed at
London's O2 Arena in January 2010 is hailed as the 25th anniversary of
the musical, it is too frequently forgotten that the show, based on the
Victor Hugo novel, was originally written by Claude-Michel Schönberg
and Alain Boubil with Herbert Kretzmer and Jean-Marc Natel and produced
in Paris, France in 1980 (it closed after 3 months). This English
Adaptation is by Trevor Nunn and John Caird (with additional material
by James Fenton) was brought to England and the world through the
efforts of Cameron Mitchell in 1985.
The concert version is performed with orchestra and chorus in the top of the platforms in O2 Arena and the characters in the musical are in costume standing before microphones at the edge of the performing structure. The light crew performs spectacular effects with the enormous facilities at this 23,000 seat arena. Some action is projected on screens above the performers (the lifting of the cart by Valjean, the barricade, etc) and at other times the screens offer the audience huge close-up view of the performers. It works well under the direction of Nick Morris. The celebration of the birthday of the show is accompanied by prolonged appearances by past members of casts of the show, a light show, and much confetti and self congratulation speeches.
As for the production itself it is populate by a generally strong cast. Alfie Boe, a 37 year old British tenor who studied opera but now sings the big demanding musicals, is a very fine Jean Valjean. Norm Lewis, and American actor/baritone is one of the strongest Jauverts on record: he is a talent to watch. Lea Salonga brings years of experience to her interpretation of Fantine, Samantha Banks is a very strong Eponine, the Iranian-born Canadian musical theater singing actor Ramin Karimloo makes a striking impression in the role of Enjolras (he has been playing the role of Phantom in the 'Phantom of the Opera' in England for years), but the performance of Katie Hall as Cosette sounds strained, the Monsieur Thénardier of Matt Lucas is completely unfocused (Jenny Galloway fares better as Madame Thénardier), and it is obvious the producers elected to play to the young audience by miscasting pop star Nick Jonas as Marius: he tries very hard but is out of his league here.
In all this is an entertaining memento of a birthday celebration - heavy on audience screaming and special party effects - and rewards the creators of this lasting fine musical with due respect.
I saw this at the cinema three times and I am counting the hours until
I get the DVD.
If you are a fan of Les Miserables, this is not to be missed.
I believe it is even better than the 10th Anniversary Concert. More of the actual musical is included, such as The Robbery. Lovely Ladies is in a more complete form. A lot of the little verses between songs is included, for example, Garvoche's introduction of the Thenardiers and the conversations between Maruis and Eponine. It isn't complete, however, some verses have been cut, most noticeably, Dog eat Dog, which in my opinion is no great loss as it is my least favorite song anyway.
The performances are all fantastic, although, Marius is a little weak. The little urchin who plays Garvoche is very impressive. The look of contempt on his face when he exposes Javert is priceless. Matt Lucus brings humor as Thenardier. Jenny Galloway reprises her role from the 10th Anniversary Concert and I think gives a better performance in this version. It is hard to limit discussion, as everyone was brilliant right from Jean Valjean to Jarvert to Cossette (Collette?).
I cannot recommend this enough.
I saw this concert on KERA and it was breathtaking. And, not that Nick
Jonas needs any help from me, but I think his work here is underrated.
For the record I'm not a Jonas Brothers fan. I don't like or dislike
them. I only know of their name. I couldn't name one song they've ever
performed if you offered me a million dollars. And I don't know if Nick
is the short one, the cute one, the fat one, the sexy one, the smart
one, the bad boy, etc. BUT, I thought his rendition of "Empty Chairs at
Empty Tables" was haunting and very effective. There were plenty of
vocal chops in this concert. His didn't need to be one more. When
Marius Pontmercy sings "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" he is a BOY who
has survived war and is racked with survivors guilt His mind is stained
with blood and death. Young death. Nick Jonas sings this song with a
youth and frailty that fits perfectly with who the character is and the
horrors he can't forget.
When I read a couple of the less than glowing reviews of his performance I found them at odds with the justice I thought he did for the song. So, I went to Youtube and checked out a few others, and yes, there are much bigger voices doing this piece. Some of them I thought to be very affected and over-sung. I thought Nick Jonas struck a good balance between the vocal demands of the piece and dramatic necessities of a young man forever scarred by death and war. It was very moving and the heavy lifting was done just fine later by Jean ValJean. The contrast was stark and proper. Worked for me!
When I first heard of LesMiserables it was in high school. My chorus class performed the songs at a concert. I absolutely fell in love with the songs. Never saw the play, I always wanted to. This concert was the first time I saw the 1985 cast and the performances. I was blown away. The cast was amazing. I actually disagree with some of the comments, however it is their opinions. In my opinion Nick Jonas was fantastic. I was so used to seeing him sing with his brothers and used to hearing him sing pop songs. When I heard him sing, I was really impressed. He put me to tears when he sang Empty Chairs Empty table and when he sang " A Little Fall of Rain with Samantha Barks. The cast was brilliant and if they were to ever do a movie musical of Les Miserables, I would not change anyone from the cast. I would keep the cast as they had in the concert. I thought they were all phenomenal. Alfie Boe put tears in my eyes as well, he was amazing.
First of all I have to say that I have seen the movie before I dig into
Les Mis on the internet, so somehow the movie could catch my attention
back then, and I am so grateful for it that I won't compare it with
this masterpiece. Secondly, this is my first ever review on IMDb so
What we've got here is a monumental show of pure talent and epicness, which is a must for all 'Les Mis' fans and for everyone who likes to listen to a musical masterpiece, and likes to get goosebumps all the time. The show took place at the O2 arena with hundreds of people participating. The setting is great, the lights and all technical stuff are excellent, the show sounds great, the mixing is very well made. The show has been conducted by the same conductor, who did the 10th anniversary concert back in 1995 (David Charles Abell), and he did one hell of a job, not a single flaw in the play of the orchestra. The cast is a brilliant one - well you could guess that something big is happening when musical giants like Earl Carpenter, or Hadley Fraser only get minor roles... There's a really large choir behind the orchestra, and they really make a punch when it is time for extra amount of epicness (like One Day More). The backing vocalist are also great (in numbers as well), everyone in minor roles (prostitutes, workers, the students) are great, this cast was chosen really carefully, that's for sure. I give a solid 10 for the supporting section of the cast.
Earl Carpenter plays the bishop, and he delivers a fine performance, worthy of his reputation. He's really gentle but powerful at the same time. 10/10
Hadley Fraser plays Grantaire and he makes the new standard for the role with his performance. His baritone is a joy to listen to and they have a unique chemistry with Ramin. 10/10
Katie Hall plays Cosette and she's excellent as well. I think that the role of Cosette has few moments to shine or to stand out, but Katie gives a fine performance, so no worries here. 8,5/10
Lea Salonga is Fantine, and 15 years after she played Eponine during the 10th anniversary show, she delivers this role incredibly well. Her "I Dreamed a Dream" earns her a big applause and some standing ovation as well. Her low harmonics makes her voice quite unique, and that's something I really like. 9/10
Matt Lucas plays Thenardier and he enjoys his role very much. It is fun to see that Matt's dream comes true on-stage, so be ready for a benefit performance. I found him good. 8/10. Madame Thenardier is played by the veteran Jenny Galloway, so no surprises here :) 8/10
Now one controversial choice of singer: the role of Marius is played by Nick Jonas, member of the (in)famous Jonas Brothers. While Nick tries hard, his acting suffers from many wounds, and his voice is at least one or two leagues weaker than the rest of the cast's. He is not good, not for this role at least. The only possible explanation (other than making steps towards his younger fan-base) is that his weaker voice and young looks help creating the impression that his character is innocent and needs guidance from the more mature characters he hangs out with. 4/10
The tragic role of Eponine is played by Sam Barks, and boy, she is awesome. She is a real beauty, that her looks can only be compared her wonderful singing. Her 'On my own' earns her the show's biggest applause till then. 10/10
Enjorlas is played by musical prodigy Ramin Karimloo. He is absolutely incredible and for me, he is the best Enjorlas ever. His commanding performance and seemingly limitless range of voice is a joy to watch and listen to over and over again! 10/10
Norm Lewis is Javert, and the great afro-American singer gives an excellent performance. The role of Javert is possibly the best role in the musical and definitely has the most depth, so it is common that singers make their own interpretation and Norm is no exception. His enunciation is somewhat controversial, but I love his Javert anyway. He is not as good as Quast (and I found EC's Javert better as well), but he gives a commanding presence and a great 'Stars' and soliloquy with full of emotion. 8,5/10
As you can see, the cast is superb, but the real deal is Alfie Boe as JVJ. Now Alfie sets new standards for the singing part of the role, and he is in his own league. He makes you feel that there are absolutely no limits to his wonderful voice as he makes those high Bs and Cs come out so clear and loud like no JVJ did before. His acting is a little stiff here and there, but maybe because his operatic-style of singing and acting, but he compensates it with facial emotions. Stunning. World Class. His 'Bring him home' earned him a standing ovation for minutes. The whole show stopped because of him! 10/10
After the show ends, there are two extra songs involving the original and then-current casts from London. Bring Him Home is presented by the 4 Valjeans and One Day More by the original 1985 cast. Good extras!
One more thing I really like in this concert: you can clearly feel the love between the cast members, and how the story and the incredible talent of Alfie Boe touch them. For me, these scenes are almost as important as good performances.
Well, what can you say? This show made me love Les Mis, and I'm seriously in love with the show itself as well. Brilliant masterpiece which has to be listened to over and over again!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have avoided Les Mis over the years, under the impression that it
held nothing which would appeal to me. I noticed that this 25th
anniversary concert presentation was being broadcast live from the O2
to our local cinema and, knowing that my wife was a big fan, I booked
tickets. I got into trouble for various reasons: a) why are you wasting
money on that, b) you know I like the show, not a concert performance,
c) I get a headache at the cinema.... boy, these women can give you a
hard time, can't they?
I was blown away. With the exception of Nick Jonas' thin, weedy, nasal Marius, I thought all the performers were first rate. But I have to single out Samantha Barks' heart-breaking Eponine, Matt Lucas' assured, hilarious, and wholly unexpected Thenardier, and Alfie Boe's astonishing Valjean. The ovation at the end of Bring Him Home has been cut down for the DVD: it went on so long during the live performance that he finally had to break character to smile and acknowledge it. I am pleased to say that I have now seen him on stage as Valjean, and it is every bit as hair-raising live in the show.
This is a remarkable record of a remarkable event.
More than anything, as far as entertainment goes, 2012 will be the year I discovered Les Miserables. Anne Hathaway impressed me in Rachel Getting Married, so I found out about Les Mis through hearing she would be in it. So I gathered more and more interest for it as the months went. I then read the novel to prepare myself for the film adaptation of 2012. By the time I saw the film, I was in love with the music, and so this was the first real musical version I saw besides the new film. Yes, I saw it on Youtube, but what a beautiful, magical event. I feel like it's so much a part of me now. It's such an emotional experience that nothing I say can describe what it is to watch it for the first time.
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