Jai's Broadway Review
3NT of Les Amis -- edited, chopped a bit, and made to fit the page! Aren't they drool-worthy?
On the 9th of April, 2000, I, J'aimie Michelle Graham, joined her friends and family at the Providence Center for the Performing Arts to see the Broadway production of Les Miserables. (WHOO! Run on... and on... and on sentence!) And what a trip it was... to say the very least.
I was quite skeptical of this performance, because when I had arrived to the theatre, it didn't look like the lobby of the Winter Garden, where I had seen Cats a few months prior. And the Playbill - there was no picture of Cosette! How could this *EVER* be a Broadway Production?
I'm just glad to say, I was quite wrong. After getting seated (forty-one demmed rows from the stage. Liars... <sighs>), Amanda (One of my best friends. She, her sister and mother had joined us on this crazy adventure) squinted to see the stage. "Jai! Lookit, it says Toulon! Just like on the TAC!"
Whoo, after I saw that, I was (for some reason) quite convinced that this was Broadway! Our cast only helped to prove this point. Ivan Rutherford played our Jean Valean, and although I couldn't see his face from my 41st row seats, I knew he was a perfect Valjean. He had a strong voice that just said "Look, don't mess with me, I know what I'm doing." He and Graham Rowat (Javert) were amazing together. You could hear the hate that the two characters had for one another in their voices. I hope that made sense...
Joan Almedilla played one helluva Fantine. Though, if I had to cast her, I would have put her as Eponine. She had a great voice, and seemed very 'into' the part. Especially when she spit at Jean Vajean (Monsier l' Mayor, you know!), and just after Lovely Ladies when she fought with Trent Blanton (Bamatabois). Her 'I Dreamed a Dream' was good, but I still think she would have played a better Eponine.
Bwhaa! Our Little Cosette... well, she was alright, but nothing special. Stephanie Mieko Cohen was adorable, but... well... her voice just didn't stand out as anything special. Her 'Castle On A Cloud' was squeaky, but... well, that's usually how it is, hm? (She doubled as Little Eponine for some shows, thought I'd throw that in) Madame Thenardier (Aymee Garcia) was excellent, though I wish I could have said the same about Thenardier. J.P. Dougherty just... wasn't enthusiastic about anything. I just didn't like him much.
Moving from the Seargent of Waterloo Inn to the streets of Paris... Whoo, things took a total change from that point on. I'll just say the bad things first, then move onto the long list of good cast members. Stephen Tewksbury... ICK! Holy God, the man... he just didn't have a single Enjolras quality about him! His voice was terribly bland, and... and... he just didn't work at all! Perhaps I noticed this because Enjolras is one of my favorite characters... I'm not sure. But when he first came onstage, Manda, my Mum and I just facefaulted. He was a disappointment.
So now that I've said my thing about our Enjolras, I can move onto our Marius. All I can say, is WOW! Usually, I hate the character of Marius Pontmercy with a burning passion. This was a refreshing change, however. Tim Howar plays an EXCELLENT Marius. He's got a strong voice, and throws all of his emotion in every song he sang. I cried *very* hard over his Empty Chairs, but back to ... uh, wherever I was. I'll get to that in a moment.
Moving to my favorite female lead - Eponine. Another WOW! Sara Ramsey-Duke was Raegan Kotz's understudy, and I'm *SO* glad I got to see her! She was extremely good at playing 'lovesick'. I especially liked her 'Hey whatcha do with all 'em books? I coulda been a student too! Don't judge a girl on how she looks, I know alot of things I do!' bit. Her 'On My Own' was excellent - extremely moving.
Regan Thiel performed *extremely* well with Ivan Rutheford. They had a wonderful 'daughter'/'father' act between them. She was a bit on the squeaky side, but... that's mostly like every other Cosette I've ever heard. Perhaps the best part of Regan's Cosette was the fact that her relationship with 'Marius' wasn't all an act. Tim and Regan are an 'item', which I think helped their performance *very* well.
To my favorite characters! The Rebels! WHOO! First things first, I suppose. Ben Davis was *SO* good... just... ugh, he was great! Grantaire was played wonderfully by Trent Blanton. Especially during 'Drink With Me' which moved me and Manda (I think) to tears for... well, the fifth or sixth time in the entire show! I'm too lazy to list the rest of the rebels, mostly because... they were all wonderful, and I could spend alot of time telling each of their good and bad points. Gavroche, I'll just add, because he was adorable. In 'Look Down', I didn't quite like him, but Cameron Teitelman's voice grew on me during 'Red and Black'. He was very... very... good for the part.
Now that I've critiqued most of the cast, I'll move onto some of my favorite pieces of the show. Like the songs or props, y'know...
If you've never seen the show, perhaps one of the most moving songs to see in person would be 'One Day More'. I *SO* lost it when the red flag showed up in the background. I don't know why... but there's just something about the song andthe way the cast is arranged onstage that just... It just does something!
One thing that I'll just point out about J.P. Dougherty's performance -- 'Dog Eats Dog/the Sewers' was just *NOT* enthusiastic. I mean, it's not fair to compare him to Alun Armstrong, mostly because he's the first Thenardier I ever heard, and is by far my favorite. He just... didn't put any excitement into the song, where usually, Thenardier throws in a laugh, or a bit of emotion in his actions. Blah!
Red and Black - oh my GOD, the set for the 'backroom' was just great! I love the way it came out, and the fact that, yes, people can climb and run through or across it! It's just *SO* cool!
Perhaps my favorite 'special effect' in the entire show was in 'Javert's Suicide'. Ever since I got the tickets, I wondered how they would make it look like Javert really drowned. Well, not to ruin the surprise for anyone who hasn't seen it, but I'll just say that lights and shadows were used *EXTREMELY* well, along with the turn-table, and even cables. I'll just... leave it at that, because it's alot more fun when you see how they do it in person. Plus, it's a helluva thing to describe!
The only advice I can give to anyone who's seeing Les Miserables - bring lots... and lots... and lots of tissues. Also, if you're a girl, don't wear any eye makeup, because... you walk out looking like a member of Kiss. Which could either be a good or a bad thing, depending on your type...
Ses and I are currently planning/begging to see Les Miserables in Boston next summer. We're hoping it works out, mostly because it'll be our first time meeting, and what better a way to meet than at one of our favorite Broadway Productions?
Be sure to check this page often for pictures from my Les Miserables adventure. Many of which include Tim Howar and Regan Thiel! I was *SO* lucky to meet them!
Much love to the Third National Tour cast. You guys were great, and I hope I'll see you again soon!
~~J'aimie Michelle Graham : July 1st, 2000~~
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