Okay, I’m just going to get right into this because I have to get up *early* to go to Liverpool tomorrow. For the most part, I was very impressed with this cast. I’ve always (well for the last couple of years) considered myself a bigger fan of the 25th anniversary staging, but now I am torn between the two. I still don’t like the turntable that much, but it definitely works better for the barricade and a few other parts. I don’t understand all the smoke/fog, that was just annoying. But it was a breath of fresh air to see the original costumes (God bless Cosette’s black dress and wedding dress) and the *uncut* score (yes, I know it’s been trimmed back over the years but compared to the new productions.) But the biggest difference between the two productions is the pace. While the pacing in the new production is fast and those three hours fly by, the original manages to really hold onto the moments that make the show magical. ANYWAY it’s a tough call between which production I prefer, but since I just got home not even half an hour ago, I think I have been converted to a bigger fan of the original.
To be honest, there wasn’t much that was special about Peter Lockyer’s Valjean. He had some beautiful moments (his “Bring Him Home” was incredible) but his voice has the strange vibrato that threw me off. What he lacked in other areas he made up for with his chemistry with Cosette. The two worked really well together and they had a lovely father/daughter relationship that makes Valjean and Cosette come to life.
DAVID THAXTON. DAVID THAXTON. DAVID FUCKING THAXTON. Yeah, if you can’t tell by now I thought he was spectacular and one of my favourites in the cast. I actually shed a tear during “Stars” it was awesome. His anger and pleading during his soliloquy was awesome. And after seeing Will Swenson twice, it was a breath of fresh air not to have that weird homoerotic Javert/Valjean thing going on. Also it’s just really awesome to see him back in Les Mis.
Celinde Schoenmaker was stunning. She actually cried during IDAD to the point where she wiped a a tear from her eye. She emphasised all the right words and she was just lovely. There are times when her accent gets heavy but I didn’t bother me.
Adam Linstead was on for Thenardier and he was fine. He wasn’t anything special but he wasn’t bad. He was quite funny during ‘Beggars at the Feast’ so there’s that.
Ohhh I’m not 100% on this one but I think Tasmin Dowsett was on for Madame Thenardier tonight (if it wasn’t here it was Helen Walsh, but I think it was Tasmin. Whoever it was, she was great. The perfect amount of comedy and grit (I can’t think of a better word at the moment.) Very enjoyable and her chemistry with Adam was there. Oh, that’s something Adam had going for him, he and Tasmin (or Helen) made a great duo.
Where do I even begin with Carrie Fletcher? Her voice is lovely but her acting isn’t there and it comes off as ammeter and dull. I barley believed anything she said or did during the first act. However, she gave the most gut-wrenching performance of ‘On My Own.’ It’s by far her best moment of the show, and one of the best moments of the show in general. She came off as angry and bitter- essentially she was PISSED. IT WAS AMAZING.
Poor, poor Emilie Flemming. I will cut her some slack because she has been out sick but the poor thing could barley hit any of the higher notes. She does have those lovely brick-Cosette moments and like I said earlier her chemistry with Peter was fantastic. She also had nice chemistry with Rob, but it wasn’t anything spectacular. The poor thing barley made it through the show, and I’m pretty sure Rob and Celinde had to help her off the stage. I don’t know, the three of them just didn’t return for the “encore” at curtain.
SPEAKING OF ROB HOUCHEN. HE IS THE MARIUS WE ALL DESERVE. Him and Thanxton where my two favourites in the cast. He was just so… Marius. To be honest, there’s nothing bad I have to say about him. He was just great. His AHFoL was adorable (ditto to Emilie) and his ‘Empty Chairs’ really showed his guilt for being the only one who lived. (Also I cried again.) Since I saved money my grandma gave me for Christmas for a good ticket, I was very close to the stage to the point where we made eye contact and he smiled at me from the stage DURING THE EPILOGUE WHERE I AM A MESS. HIGHLIGHT OF THE SHOW RIGHT THERE.
Ashley Stillburn was on for Enjolras and he was great. His voice was booming and he did have a bit of a presence (nothing like Kyle over on Broadway) but very enjoyable nonetheless. I loved how he showed signs of defeat right before ‘The Final Battle’ that’s what really put him over the top for me.
The ensemble as a whole was fantastic and really carried the show. If Valjean can’t do it (and Peter sadly didn’t carry it for me until ‘Bring Him Home.’) The ensemble sure does make up for it. Overall I had a great time, and hope to be back again soon!