The Student News Site of Malvern Preparatory School

Friar's Lantern

The Student News Site of Malvern Preparatory School

Friar's Lantern

The Student News Site of Malvern Preparatory School

Friar's Lantern

    Movie or Stage: Les Miserables in Perspective

    “One Day More”. That’s what fans of the spectacular musical Les Miserables want to say. Les Miserables was performed at Philadelphia’s own Academy of Music. It ran from January 2nd 2013 to January 14th, 2013 with every performance virtually selling out each night. No doubt, the contributing factor had to be with the movie version coming out on Christmas which received rave reviews. In fact, the movie is still running today at some theaters. The movie starred the likes of Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried, and Eddie Redmayne. With the awards that have been given out already, Les Miserables has taken home numerous Golden Globe awards and one Screen Actors’ Guild award. Why was this show so popular one may ask. It is because known actors were put into a show stopping musical that anyone who has ever seen it before loves.

    What went right and what went wrong is something a lot of critics ask. I can tell you that as an avid fan, more things went right than went wrong. Some of those right things were casting Anne Hathaway, Eddie Redmayne, and Samantha Barks.

    Many people do not know the history between Anne Hathaway and the role of Fantine. Anne’s mother played the role of Fantine before her. If you saw the movie, one saw the heart aching performance done by Anne. She gave all she had acting wise until she got to “I Dreamed a Dream”. In this show stopping song, Anne let the voice (singing) take over and the acting came with it. The passionate singing with the downright crying during the song  made audiences everywhere fall in love with her portrayal of Fantine. Fantine is on the verge of death and Anne makes you want to do one of two things: 1. Cry with her and 2. Jump through the screen and save her from her misery.

    Eddie Redmayne was just cruising along in the movie. By that, I mean that I didn’t like him UNTIL “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”. Everyone in the theater went ballistic for that song. The amount of emotion that he was able to convey (mostly through crying) in the song and his lyric voice with perfectly connected legato phrases made some tweet that he might have been better than Michael Ball. His voice fits more with the previous said song than in “In My Life” where I’m assuming the directors wanted him to play a shy pattery Marius.

    Samantha Barks was a virtually unknown talent to most of the world until Cameron Mackintosh decided to have faith and offered her the role of Eponine for the 25th Anniversary concert that happened at the O2 arena in London in 2010. This is where I and the entire world fell in love with her. She continued that success into the movie. Even though the production staff removed the signature trench coat and hat, Eponine is still a character that every girl dies for. Each and every girl can relate to the fact that sometimes she falls in love with a guy, but the guy only thinks of her as a friend and falls in love with someone else. The same can be said for guys in reverse as well. Samantha really came out full force in “On My Own”, where she belted her last high note like she was begging for Marius to hear and see her with love. With her performance in the movie, she really made everyone a fan of hers.

    One thing the production team REALLY REALLY REALLY got right was sound. Each member of the cast sang live for each of their songs and parts. Later on, a live orchestra was recorded and put in the background of their live singing. When the member of the company was singing during filming, they had a hidden earpiece in their ear where they could hear a person playing the song on piano/keyboard. This has never been done before and in Les Miserables it was accomplished.

    Inevitably something always goes wrong. The main error was the casting of Russell Crowe as Javert. His singing was not on par with any of the other company members, even Helena Bonham Carter and that’s saying something.  I didn’t even like her in Sweeney Todd. The team’s mindset was probably they needed a strong actor for the part. They were, and if they still think so are wrong. Javert needs to be able to sell the story with his voice. Toward the end, in Javert’s Suicide the purpose is for the audience to feel bad for Javert. I was kind of happy when he plunged off the bridge and plopped in the sea. The pain of seeing Russell Crowe try was unbearable.

    Now, I haven’t put Hugh Jackman into any category. This is because Hugh Jackman wasn’t good, but he wasn’t bad. I don’t like that he was given the role because he isn’t a heroic tenor. There needs to be an extra “umpph” in the voice when one sings the role of Jean Valjean. Some examples of heroic tenors that have played the role of Jean Valjean are Alfie Boe and Colm Wilkinson, who got a feature in the movie as the Bishop of Digne. If I were casting, I would not put Hugh as Valjean just because his voice doesn’t fulfill the character traits and needs.

    The movie was good, but the musical live at the Academy of Music was 5,000,000,000 times better. Peter Lockyer had the kind of rich voice so much as though one might have thought he was a baritone. Once the upper range was shone, the audience was captivated by the sheer power, beauty, and easiness. The man who played Javert was SO good. His voice was something else. It was so low and dark that it felt scary. He should have been put in the movie over Crowe. Eponine was an understudy but she sang like she was the leading lady.

    The one flaw of the show version was that Fantine was a belter. Fantine  should have a nice light high sound for her upper notes and they shouldn’t be forced unless it is an emotional scene of anger of rage which is really rare in the show.

    Les Mis, the movie, was great to see because it was historic. The stage version of the musical was great to see because the actors and actresses were great and mesmerizing and told the story perfectly. I encourage everyone to see Les Mis when it comes to Broadway in 2014, for I can honestly tell you it isn’t wasted money. I’ll leave you with one quote. “Don’t they know they’re making love to one already dead.”

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