So I’ve been wondering exactly how well the film production of Les Miserables is going to be when it releases in December. After watching the spectacular that was the 25th anniversary performance, I was extremely doubtful that they would find a cast to rival the likes of Alfie Boe, Norm Lewis, Ramin Karimloo, Lea Salonga, et al. Perhaps they won’t, but I don’t think it will be the disaster I feared it might be.
I began to see this hope after watching the first trailer, which featured Anne Hathaway singing “I Dreamed a Dream”. I had not been aware that Anne Hathaway could sing, but it turns out that she has a lovely voice, and I really look forward to watching her performance as Fantine. I was also excited to learn that the film’s Eponine will be Samantha Barks, who did an extraordinary job with the role in the 25th anniversary performance. At the same time, however, I was still highly skeptical over the fact that Hugh Jackman was cast as Jean Valjean. I freely admit, though, that I do not know much about Hugh Jackman apart from hearing his name associated with such movies as X-Men and Van Helsing. But after what, in my opinion, was a poor casting decision having Gerard Butler play Erik in The Phantom of the Opera, I was extremely leery of having Jackman as Valjean–especially when we hear versions of “Bring Him Home” that sound like this:
Yes, it isn’t fair to compare him to the magnificent John Owen Jones, especially when the latter is clearly in a league of his own, but Valjean is a meaty role, and it requires a phenomenal singer to pull it off. Fortunately, there is hope on the horizon. Last night the local PBS station was running a special on Oscar Hammerstein and featured a clip from a stage performance of Oklahoma! I happened to notice that the featured male singer had a nice, strong voice, and I assumed he was some regular stage performer. Imagine my surprise when the pledge break host said that the singer was Hugh Jackman! Immediately I was relieved. Although I’m still uncertain what his version of “Bring Him Home” will sound like, I think he’ll manage to pull off the role of Jean Valjean quite expertly.
So, yeah, this version of Les Miserables might actually be quite good!
P. S. For those of you who are wondering, I found out that Russell Crowe can sing, too, which is good since the role of Javert requires some musical chops.