One of the presents with my name on it under the Christmas tree this year was the 25th anniversary cast recording of Les Miserables. Now this is different from the 25th anniversary concert which starred Alfie Boe and Norm Lewis; this was recorded during a live performance of the touring UK production that was revamped especially for the musical’s 25th anniversary. Since it was essentially awesomeness in a box, I wanted to share my thoughts about the performances. Please note that I won’t be including Katie Hall in this since she played Cosette in this and the 25th anniversary concert, so I was already used to her singing.
- John Owen Jones (Jean Valjean): I knew what to expect but was blown away anyway. I’m beginning to think this man could sing from the phone book and still make it sound passionate, introspective, and moving.
- Earl Carpenter (Inspector Javert): I’m awfully sorry, Norm Lewis, but I think Earl Carpenter has replaced you as my favorite Javert. His voice had the perfect amount of haughtiness without going over the top. His voice is also pretty evenly matched with John Owen Jones’s, making their shared songs outstanding. Seriously, the confrontation is outstanding. And Carpenter’s version of “Stars”…whoa.
- Madelena Alberto (Fantine): For several months Lea Salonga has been my ideal Fantine…and then Madelena Alberto opened her mouth. Now they’re battling for supremacy in my head.
- Ashley Artus and Lynne Wilmont (The Thenadiers): I didn’t think much of the Thenadiers when I first saw them in the 25th anniversary concert, but Ashley and Lynne’s performances meshed perfectly, and each complemented the other in a way I hadn’t expected to hear. After listening to them, I can see how the Thenadiers, as despicable as they are, are an integral part of Les Miserables. The show simply wouldn’t be the same without them.
- Rosalind James (Eponine): Samantha Barks is and always shall be my favorite Eponine…but Rosalind James is an awfully close second.
- Gareth Gates (Marius): Yay, a Marius who can sing (cough, Nick Jonas, cough)! Seriously, though, Gareth gave a nice, solid performance as the young student/revolutionary who falls in love with Valjean’s adopted daughter Cosette.
- Jon Robyns (Enjolras): I’ll be honest; it was difficult to be 100% objective judging this character after hearing Ramin Karimloo sing the same part in the 25th anniversary concert (anyone who has ever heard Ramin sing anything will understand), but I did my best. Jon seemed a bit shaky at the start, but he quickly found his footing and gave a rousing performance.
And as for everyone else in the cast, it was as if the producers cast all of the awesome people they could find.
I realize that this post was probably very strange and will most likely not make sense to most of the people who read it, but I wanted to write it, so there. Merry Christmas. 🙂