Friday, March 4, 2011

Do You Hear the People Sing? You Can Sunday.

The year 2010 marked the 25th anniversary of the musical Les Miserables. In honor of the anniversary a spectacular concert in London's 02 showcased the talent of cast members past and present. PBS is broadcasting the concert this Sunday night, March 6 at 7 p.m. CST. Set the DVR right now and then come back to read the rest of the post. I mean it. Right now.

In his first appearance in the lead role of Jean Valjean, Alfie Boe is in my opinion the best JVJ to date. Alfie was "discovered" in the body shop where he sang for his work mates as he polished cars. A customer heard his stunning voice, referred him to all the right people in all the right places, and I for one am grateful his professional car washing days are over.

Norm Lewis as Inspector Javert will dazzle you with his voice if not with his perfectly brilliant white teeth. Lewis' portrayal is somehow the perfect combination of the snarling, evil, vengeance-seeking inspector who is nevertheless a tormented, guilt-ridden, pitiful soul in need of redemption. He is unforgettable. You'll probably wonder where you've heard that voice. King Triton. The Little Mermaid. Yep. That's him.

And receiving the Tony in the forgettable category we have Nick Jonas in the role of Marius. I'm sorry I even reminded myself of this painful aspect of the show. His tortured facial expressions match his vocals. Either that or his coat and collar are just buttoned waaaay too tight. They should have called my son in law for the role. He'd have been perfect.

What's the deal with the teeth? You won't want to miss nor can you miss the Thenardiers' teeth. Now let me prepare you. The teeth of these two are illustrious, not to be confused with lustrous, of their roles. Just be ready. They are icky, bawdy, profane, and the crowd loves them. I'm making a note to myself about another post concerning the use of "less than the lovely" in literature. That would be a good topic. Anyway, this duo is well-cast in what the musical, not the novel, uses as comic relief. If they weren't so awful. And had those teeth. Makes you want to jump up for some Listerine or maybe a sand-blaster.
Those in the roles of Fantine, Cosette, Eponine, Enjolras, and Gavroche are splendid. Not to mention the fact that they are able to get up on stage before thousands and thousands of people and remain conscious.

The story of Les Mis would have captured my heart even if it hadn't happened in France. Written by Victor Hugo in 1862 it is one of the world's enduring classic Christ-haunted stories of dark versus light, condemnation versus redemption, slavery versus freedom, falsehood versus truth, poverty versus wealth, class versus person hood. The list of themes goes even beyond. If you've not read Hugo's masterpiece (the Barnes & Noble version is an excellent one) read a synopsis of the story somewhere online (Wikipedia and SparkNotes both have good posts) before watching the concert which features characters in costume with limited sets, a full orchestra and a huge chorus.

Like the book, this is a masterpiece. Trust me. You won't want to miss it.


  1. And I dare you to listen to Jean Valjean's dying scene without tears. I was a mess last night as we listened to it on the iPod. It has grown to be Ken's favorite musical.
    When I visited London 21 years ago we saw it in the nosebleed section for a matinee. Told Ken how amazing it was when we started dating, so he got us tickets in Atlanta, then when it came to Jackson and we had an amazing 36 hour trip to NYC to see its return to Broadway 3 years ago. That trip was made possible by the short-lived non-stop flight to Newark that Continental offered. We also spent 5 hours in the MOMA and saw Cyrano de Bergerac with Jennifer Garner and KEVIN KLINE who was AMAZING!!!!!!

  2. I'm right with you on the dying scene. Alfie Boe's face and eyes coupled with the lyrics and that beautiful music will just do you in while reminding you of God. "To love another person is to see the face of God." Love it.
    Do y'all know it will be in Birmingham in September? Sounds like a road trip to me.