I watched the 25th Anniversary ‘Les Miserables’ concert the other night, it wasn’t even close to the 10th Anniversary concert but I did enjoy most of it.
It was fantastic seeing Lea Salonga playing Fantine, I thought Matt Lucas gave a good Thenardier and I did like Alfie Boe (no denying he has a great voice) but there were two quibbles – I didn’t really like the Javert (it all hinged on his suicide, I was a little underwhelmed) and Marius was dreadful.
I’m sure in an average cast (second cover understudy run), the Jonas Brother* is passable but against people who can sing? Not even close to okay. Very nasally, had one facial expression (slightly pained) and I don’t think he got near the notes in ‘Empty Chairs at Empty Tables’ (not even close… and I’ve spent the last five years on a musical learning about people who can’t reach the notes).
Normally, I wouldn’t mind because I find Marius a bit of a weedy character but when you bring on Michael Ball (and the original company) at the end it really does make you think. It’s a West End trend at the moment, cast adequate pop stars in musicals and hope they can cope – some can, I thought Gareth Gates was very good in the ‘Les Miserables’ tour and I think the guy from Blue is doing very well in ‘Legally Blonde’ – but I think it’s a huge gamble just to get bums on seats.
Anyway, at the end of the concert there was a message on the screen announcing that Universal are making the film of the musical, to be released in 2011 (I think it said 2011); I have a feeling that’s why the cast of the 25th Anniversary concert wasn’t very Les Mis.
It’s fairly rare (I think) to have musical performers doing the on-screen version of the musical, I imagine the casting for the feature film will be somewhat similar to the concert version – most likely including the Jonas Brother because they’ll want a “star”.
Thinking about how the musical film is likely to be cast I started thinking about the Les Mis films I’ve seen (the French epic series set in the 1940s, the Anthony Perkins one and the one with Geoffrey Rush) and kinda came to the conclusion that Les Miserables might be one of those truly filmable books – you have to loose so much and I think all the films concentrate on the storyline between Valjean and Javert (which is key, but it’d be interesting to get more of the Thenardier/Valjean storyline). I would love a mini-series to be made, ideally by someone like HBO or Showtime – I think they’d have the balls and the talent to carry it off.
I have got a copy of the BBC radio 4 drama series, it stars Roger Allam (I think as Valjean, but wikipedia seem to think he’s playing Javert) and I am very much looking forward to listening to it.
(*I don’t actually know who the Jonas Brothers are, I didn’t actually know the guy playing Marius was a Jonas Brother – someone at work told me but didn’t know which one and I am a little scared of getting hunted down by rabid Jonas Brothers fans if I single one out in particular… you know what Google Alerts are like.)