The first time I'd seen Les Misérables was back in 2003, almost 10 years ago. I was 17, and I was into the more pop/rock musicals, but also wanting to get as many of the most popular musicals - in a way - "under my belt". I'd just gotten into stage musicals a year earlier, so and all I had seen live before Les Miz was "The Phantom of the Opera", "CATS", "Beauty and the Beast", and "My Fair Lady."
We had amazing seats! We were in the lodge (the area before the 1st balcony), in the first row of the center section, and had the two a isle seats (no crawling over people!), and no one was in front of us, so we didn't have any obstructing views (heads); from where we sat, all we could see was the stage and the orchestra pit. Ah, they were just so PERFECT!
The production I saw tonight, the 25th Anniversary Tour, was so much different than what I saw nearly 10 years ago. Some of the new things I liked, and some I didn't. I'll go into what I liked first.
1. Javert's suicide. In the original production, there is a revolving stage on stage and basically Javert jumps off of a prop that is the rail of La Seine, and then rolls around on the revolving stage as it is revolving. It took a lot of effort to keep myself from laughing out loud.
In the new production, they use animated backgrounds, so when he jumps he's attached to a and with the new background, we see him descend into the water, get tossed around for a bit, and finally see him fade into the Seine's darkness. SO MUCH BETTER!!!
I liked everything else. The animated backgrounds made it seem more...real - I guess you could say. I love all the extra set props, which you didn't really get with the revolving stage.
The cast was fantastic. They all really struck a chord with me, but these were my favorites:
- Peter Lockyer was an AMAZING Jean Valjean - his "Bring Him Home" was beautiful.
- Briana Carlson-Goodman was a beautiful Eponine, and she sang "On My Own" so beautifully that I can't imagine that no one felt her pain at some point in their life as she sang the song. I'm a bit bummed that she only tried to kiss Marius during "A Little Fall of Rain", opposed to the previous production where she actually does kiss him.
- Betsey Morgan as Fantine was great; except she got a bit pitchy during the belting notes.
- Mr. and Mrs. Thenardier were hysterical!
- I'm more partial to guys with brown or dark brown hair for Enjolras. Bur he was an amazing singer. And with that charisma, It's understandable why he got everyone to rebel against the French economy (at least I think that was why XD )
Now for what I didn't like:
1. When the barricade falls. The Revolving stage was key to this scene, because you see both behind the barricade wall, AND in front of it where the revolutionaries flag has fallen, you see a dead Enjolras strewn across it; you also see little Gavroche lying dead on the street below the barricade
I tell you what, though, I cried from when you first see Gavroche leave the barricade, till when you see Javert realizing that they killed children (at least, to me, that seemed to be his breaking point...looking around online seems to tell a different story...like he was upset that Jean wasn't with the dead...or something.), and there is a whole lot that happens in between those scenes...well, the men realizing they haven't got a shot in hell to win this, and decide to go out in a blaze of glory.
2. Empty Chairs at Empty Tables. WHAT THE F---?! He's in the STREET singing about his FRIENDS no longer at the tables in cafe where
"Here they talked of revolution.
Here it was they lit the flame.
Here they sang about `tomorrow'
And tomorrow never came..
From the table in the corner
They could see a world reborn
And they rose with voices ringing"
This just pissed me off. It was so much more moving and powerful with Marius sitting at a table in the cafe, all alone, when the spirits of his friends appear, hauntingly behind him, and he never looks behind him. In this production, it seemed as if Marius was interacting with him. HUGE mistake, producers! /rant.
But anyway. The cast was great, the costumes were beautiful, the music is to die for, the new sets were amazing, and I love the projection on the stage as the back drop.
If it's coming near you (or if you live near New York or London) I encourage you to go see it! It's such a tragically beautiful show.