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Agent Foxtrot
04-20-2011, 09:52 AM
I'm going to see Les Miz for the third time at the Kennedy Center in September. I've loved the musical since I was nine years old.

A question has always nagged me, though: Fantine is Jean Valjean's sister, right? How does Valjean not recognize his own sister when she was fired from his factory? He could have pulled her from the floor and given her some kind of job higher up in the factory with better pay and security. Presumably they grew up together... the bread he stole from the rich person's house was taken to feed his family, which I would assume included Fantine.

When Fantine dies, she doesn't seem to recognize him (I think she lost her vision due to whatever unspecified disease she had), but you'd think she'd recognize his voice.

I tried to read the book when I was really young, but it was too daunting back then. Perhaps the book would give more insight into this. Am I looking to deeply into it?

Jophiel
04-20-2011, 09:56 AM
Fantine wasn't Jean Valjean's sister. JV had a sister who was poor and starving (along with her child) but she wasn't Fantine.

Edit: According to Wiki, JV's sister (in the novel anyway) had seven starving kids, not one.

jayjay
04-20-2011, 09:57 AM
I've never gotten the impression that Fantine is related to Valjean in any way. I'm pretty sure neither the novel nor the musical suggest it.

Agent Foxtrot
04-20-2011, 12:19 PM
I've never gotten the impression that Fantine is related to Valjean in any way. I'm pretty sure neither the novel nor the musical suggest it.I no longer have the lyric book that came with the original Broadway recording, but I do believe it said in there Fantine was Valjean's sister.

If not, why was he present at her death and why did he agree to raise Cosette?

slitterst
04-20-2011, 12:25 PM
If not, why was he present at her death and why did he agree to raise Cosette?

He was present at her death because he happened upon Javert arresting her for prostitution/assault and recognized her as the factory worker he had allowed his foreman to fire. He felt great guilt that he had placed his trust in a bad man and that had caused Fantine's downfall. To atone for that he took responsibility for Cosette.

Agent Foxtrot
04-20-2011, 12:27 PM
I no longer have the lyric book that came with the original Broadway recording, but I do believe it said in there Fantine was Valjean's sister.

If not, why was he present at her death and why did he agree to raise Cosette?Missed edit. Also, if he had a starving sister and niece, why wasn't he taking care of them?

Agent Foxtrot
04-20-2011, 12:28 PM
He was present at her death because he happened upon Javert arresting her for prostitution/assault and recognized her as the factory worker he had allowed his foreman to fire. He felt great guilt that he had placed his trust in a bad man and that had caused Fantine's downfall. To atone for that he took responsibility for Cosette.Ah, right, I remember now. It's been a while since I heard the transitional songs between the main songs.

Jophiel
04-20-2011, 12:40 PM
Missed edit. Also, if he had a starving sister and niece, why wasn't he taking care of them?
According to Wiki (been too long since I read the book), Jean Valjean learns later (I assume while factory owner/mayor) that his sister has moved to Paris and works at a print shop to support herself and one of her children (the fates of the rest are unknown).

I'd guess that he's satisfied that she's working and stable and can't afford the risk to his false identity by contacting her.

Great Antibob
04-20-2011, 12:51 PM
According to Wiki (been too long since I read the book), Jean Valjean learns later (I assume while factory owner/mayor) that his sister has moved to Paris and works at a print shop to support herself and one of her children (the fates of the rest are unknown).

According to the novel, Valjean learns this in his 4th year of prison. After he leaves prison several years later and after he becomes "Monsieur Madeleine", he does try to find them, but cannot find anybody who has any news of them. There's no further mention of them in the novel.

MaxTheVool
04-20-2011, 05:33 PM
On the topic of Fantine, it just occurred to me recently, after seeing the show at least 5 times live and listening to the soundtrack countless times, that when Fantine is so desperate because there's a child that solely needs her and so forth, it's (almost certainly) not because Cosette is actually in any danger at all, it's because the Thendardiers are lying to her claiming that Cosette is sick to extort more money.

Just makes her tragic situation ironically worse.


By the way, the 25th anniversary concert is now out on Blu Ray and DVD. It's awesome, except for the stunt casting of a Jonas brother as Marius. I mean, he's not terrible, but he's clearly not quite up to it.

interface2x
04-20-2011, 05:45 PM
Missed edit. Also, if he had a starving sister and niece, why wasn't he taking care of them?I always assumed that he no longer needed to take care of the kids because they were all adults by the time he got out of prison. Never gave much thought to his sister.

By the way, the new production of Les Mis is pretty cool, I think. They re-did the staging (no more revolving stage) and changed a few of the settings. Most of them worked really well for me but there were a couple that didn't really make sense with some of the lyrics.

jayjay
04-20-2011, 05:54 PM
I always assumed that he no longer needed to take care of the kids because they were all adults by the time he got out of prison.

This. Valjean was in prison for 19 years. Even children born around the time he went in would be adults at that point.

Sampiro
04-20-2011, 06:02 PM
It's awesome, except for the stunt casting of a Jonas brother as Marius. I mean, he's not terrible, but he's clearly not quite up to it.

He spends the entire production looking like he's about to cry and half the time he sings in what sounds like a 10th grader doing an English accent. (Clip of his first entrance about 1:30 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CblXINeKuwM&feature=fvst)) "Where are the leaders of the l-ah-nd...".


A brother-sister who don't know they're related in the novel are Gavroche and Eponine. The Thenardiers had Gavroche around the time they moved to Paris and abandoned him at an orphanage, then later had two more sons they abandoned who are taken in by Gavroche who doesn't know they're his brothers. They also have a daughter Azelma who's slightly younger than Eponine and is a character in the novel; she survives Eponine and their mother and moves with her father to Canada.

Le Ministre de l'au-delà
04-20-2011, 06:14 PM
nm

HenryGale
04-20-2011, 06:32 PM
It's awesome, except for the stunt casting of a Jonas brother as Marius. I mean, he's not terrible, but he's clearly not quite up to it.

This made me feel bad for all the guys in the chorus who sang their single solo lines with more heart and passion than Nick Jonas managed to manage as Marius. Any one of them could have mopped the set with his performance.

I guess good for him to want to branch out into more artistic endeavors, though.

Le Ministre de l'au-delà
04-20-2011, 07:19 PM
It's been bothering me for about an hour - why did they reverse Marius' and Enjolras' lines at that point? It's Enjolras who sings 'Where are the leaders of the land? Where are the swells who run this show?" - I remember counting the six It'll comes... I had to look in the libretto (http://www.angelfire.com/ms/shows/LesMizScript.html) to prove I wasn't losing my mind.

araminty
04-20-2011, 09:15 PM
I guess good for him to want to branch out into more artistic endeavors, though.

Actually, Nick Jonas' Broadway career long predates his pop (ahem) "stardom." He's been on Broadway for 10 years, and was in Gavroche in 2003. Cite. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nick_Jonas)

Sampiro
04-20-2011, 09:17 PM
I remember counting the six It'll comes... I had to look in the libretto (http://www.angelfire.com/ms/shows/LesMizScript.html) to prove I wasn't losing my mind.

If you were counting the "It'll comes" it might require stronger proof than that.;)

Sampiro
04-20-2011, 09:23 PM
The play sort of implies that once Valjean/Madeleine fled he and Cosette moved into a little apartment in Paris with a view of the Future Home of the Eiffel Tower, but in the novel and most of the films they live in a convent school where Cosette is enrolled and Valjean is groundskeeper until she graduates, which is the first time he uses the money he hid away (literally- he didn't invest it but buried it in a coffin) while he was M'sieu Madeleine.

friedo
04-20-2011, 09:30 PM
He spends the entire production looking like he's about to cry and half the time he sings in what sounds like a 10th grader doing an English accent. (Clip of his first entrance about 1:30 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CblXINeKuwM&feature=fvst)) "Where are the leaders of the l-ah-nd...".


This (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJnjcX8skXk) is how you do Marius.

The Jonases could use a few decades of lessons.

Le Ministre de l'au-delà
04-20-2011, 09:32 PM
If you were counting the "It'll comes" it might require stronger proof than that.;)


There are two deadly places, musically speaking, in that scene - Enjolras' "Where are the leaders of the land?" and Thenardier's "Everyone here? You know your place." - and for the same reason. There are six chords before the Thenardier entrance, and six repetitions of the chorus' "It'll come, it'll come..." Mis-count, and you can take everyone else onstage with you for a long and bumpy ride.

Watching a guy in a Marius costume sing my line was mind-bending.



Le Ministre de l'au-delà, Combeferre (Enjolras understudy), 1st Canadian tour (Calgary, Vancouver, Anchorage, Toronto 2nd production) 1990 - 1991, Enjolras (Toronto 2nd production, Ottawa, Regina) 1991 - 1992

Sampiro
04-20-2011, 09:45 PM
This (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJnjcX8skXk) is how you do Marius.



Ricky Martin (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsYp0jk3YZU)

Agent Foxtrot
04-21-2011, 12:18 AM
This (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJnjcX8skXk) is how you do Marius.Wow. Just... wow.

jayjay
04-21-2011, 07:03 AM
Wow. Just... wow.

Michael Ball pretty much IS Marius, for Anglophone purposes, anyway. He originated the role in London.

Jophiel
04-21-2011, 07:36 AM
By the way, the new production of Les Mis is pretty cool, I think. They re-did the staging (no more revolving stage) and changed a few of the settings. Most of them worked really well for me but there were a couple that didn't really make sense with some of the lyrics.
I watched the 25th Anniversary show on PBS and found myself continually having to explain to others what was going on because the stage offered few visual clues (the scene with the toppled wagon was especially vague). I didn't know if that was because they were focusing on the music for that particular broadcast or because that's just what the show looks like now. If it's the latter, I think it suffers for it.

I missed the old barricade scenes as well.

interface2x
04-21-2011, 08:29 AM
I watched the 25th Anniversary show on PBS and found myself continually having to explain to others what was going on because the stage offered few visual clues (the scene with the toppled wagon was especially vague). I didn't know if that was because they were focusing on the music for that particular broadcast or because that's just what the show looks like now. If it's the latter, I think it suffers for it.

I missed the old barricade scenes as well.Oh, no, that's just for the concert. The new productions still have all the staging and everything, they just changed some things around - instead of being on a chain-gang, Valjean is on a slave ship at the beginning, the barricade no longer turns to see both sides, they use backing movies to set the scene in several places, etc.

This promo video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51R7BKYnAy0) shows some of the stuff. The production I saw was also confusing for people who didn't know the show as the Thenardiers were white and Eponine was black. "Wait, she's their daughter?" Valjean was also black in our show.

WhyNot
04-21-2011, 08:38 AM
Yeah, Michael Ball IS Marius. The dynamics he wrings out of that simple song are stunning, and he manages to work up all that emotion without adversely affecting the singing. Fantastic performer. Of course, he's had decades to work on it, and is too "old" to play Marius should he only be discovered now, so comparing Nick Jonas to Michael Ball is really unfair. ("Old" both chronologically, giving him a richer voice, and in having the life experience to draw those emotions from, an advantage a younger actor doesn't have). That being said, Nick Jonas still doesn't compare favorably to other Mariuses closer to his age, I'm sorry to say.

Jophiel
04-21-2011, 08:38 AM
Ah, much better. I sort of suspected as much both to keep the focus on the music and not to "give away" the show to people who don't buy tickets. But the comments up-thread had me uncertain.

Sarahfeena
04-21-2011, 10:22 AM
There are two deadly places, musically speaking, in that scene - Enjolras' "Where are the leaders of the land?" and Thenardier's "Everyone here? You know your place." - and for the same reason. There are six chords before the Thenardier entrance, and six repetitions of the chorus' "It'll come, it'll come..." Mis-count, and you can take everyone else onstage with you for a long and bumpy ride.

Watching a guy in a Marius costume sing my line was mind-bending.



Le Ministre de l'au-delà, Combeferre (Enjolras understudy), 1st Canadian tour (Calgary, Vancouver, Anchorage, Toronto 2nd production) 1990 - 1991, Enjolras (Toronto 2nd production, Ottawa, Regina) 1991 - 1992

Wow, that must have been a great experience.

I've watched that 25th anniversary concert several times, and I always wonder why they reversed who is singing those lines. There seems to be no good reason for it that I can see.

Agent Foxtrot
04-21-2011, 10:34 AM
Wow, that must have been a great experience.

I've watched that 25th anniversary concert several times, and I always wonder why they reversed who is singing those lines. There seems to be no good reason for it that I can see.Speaking of Enjolras, David Thaxton (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1y4tL-wSCg) is just bursting with charisma.

Sorry to derail a little bit, but I'd give anything to see Colm Wilkinson and Philip Quast back in their roles.

Swallowed My Cellphone
04-21-2011, 10:43 AM
Michael Ball pretty much IS Marius, for Anglophone purposes, anyway. He originated the role in London.I'm a straight male but would still have Michael Ball's baby if it grew up to sing like him.

Here's a younger Marius (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFWGexsnICY&feature=related) singing on Michael Ball's show. That would scare the crap out of me if I was in his shoes.

Sampiro
04-21-2011, 11:33 AM
Here's a younger Marius (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFWGexsnICY&feature=related) singing on Michael Ball's show. That would scare the crap out of me if I was in his shoes.

No doubt. Singing Bring Him Home in front of Colm Wilkinson is about the only thing I'd less rather do.

Speaking of, my favorite part of the 25th anniversary was the "four Valjeans" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gw2hKaBxVsQ&feature=related). I don't care how old Wilkinson is, if they ever do a Les Mis movie (the musical I mean) he HAS to be Valjean.

A question for Le Ministre- just how crowded is the backstage of Les Mis? Those sets are freaking HUGE and I've wondered if there's even wiggle room back there.

Sarahfeena
04-21-2011, 12:59 PM
Speaking of Enjolras, David Thaxton (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1y4tL-wSCg) is just bursting with charisma.

Sorry to derail a little bit, but I'd give anything to see Colm Wilkinson and Philip Quast back in their roles.

Time marches on, though, you know? I absolutely loved Alfie Boe and Norm Lewis in the roles, thought they were both outstanding.

Eyebrows 0f Doom
04-22-2011, 12:30 AM
This promo video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51R7BKYnAy0) shows some of the stuff. The production I saw was also confusing for people who didn't know the show as the Thenardiers were white and Eponine was black. "Wait, she's their daughter?" Valjean was also black in our show.

OK, that shot of Javert falling looks awesome! I wish I could see this production, but it looks like the closest it'll get to New York is the Kennedy Center.

Do you know who's playing Valjean? It looked like John Owen-Jones in that video, but I thought he was currently in London?

interface2x
04-22-2011, 08:22 AM
I'm not sure, that's not the guy that we saw.

When Javert jumped off the bridge, they also transitioned it so that he was floating in the air and the backing movies gave the sensation of watching him falling from above. It was actually pretty cool.

Le Ministre de l'au-delà
04-22-2011, 08:37 AM
A question for Le Ministre- just how crowded is the backstage of Les Mis? Those sets are freaking HUGE and I've wondered if there's even wiggle room back there.

The original design is for a box set - you see the back wall in full light for the wedding scene, but in general everyone is distracted by the tables, the full colour ball gowns and the sight of the full company waltzing on the rotating turntable. There's about 2 feet between the barricade towers and the side walls - not much room to manoeuvre between the middle and downstage entrances when they are off-stage. Other than that, though, the large set pieces are stowed onstage inside the box. The gates fold and live upstage right, the ABC Café is on a radio controlled truck unit that lives upstage centre, the bridge is flown, the sewer is a flat with forced-perspective lights that give the illusion of a huge cavernous space... The lighting was fantastic, taking small spaces at a time on stage and making you think the rest of it was just behind, in the shadows.

And some of the effects were totally old school - in the courtroom (24601), the judges' bench was achieved by two stage hands holding a horizontal bar set on poles with a drape coming down off it. Upstage of it, the Factory Foreman, Enjolras and Grantaire walked downstage with 4 foot stepladders and climbed up on them, wearing black robes over other costume pieces. At the appropriate moment, just before the change in lights, we would stand up and bang our gavels...

Outside the box, it depended entirely on the theatre. For most of them, we had oodles of room. The Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto was quite cramped, with the men's change room being a long, narrow corridor about the width of a semi-trailer truck. In regular use, it was the loading dock. The backstage is four storeys high with no elevator, so given the choice between doing all your quick changes by running up and down the stairs, or watching what you did with your elbows in a space that was uncannily like a submarine, we went with the option that was on the same floor.

Le Ministre de l'au-delà
04-22-2011, 08:45 AM
Missed the edit window -

That was one of the most fun aspects of the show for me - the tracking and transitions which were more or less set from the original production, but were also subject to tinkering. For instance, the body that Thenardier carries in the sewer is always the smallest student in the cast, whoever that might have been.

Finding out that Enjolras goes from a kneeling member of the chain gang to part of the crowd as Jean Valjean presents his yellow ticket of leave, to a guy being paid in the factory, to one of Javert's policemen during Fantine's arrest, to Enjolras, to the old waiter at the wedding back to Enjolras for the finale is really mindblowingly cool. And everybody goes through this...

The ones that totally amazed me were the swings, who had to learn the tracks of every member of the ensemble, and who had to improvise a solution to 'swing hell' whenever three or more members of the company had to cancel. Sadly, they are often looked down upon as not having been good enough to have got a real role. In my opinion, they are underappreciated geniuses.

Barrett Bonden
04-22-2011, 11:44 AM
The ones that totally amazed me were the swings, who had to learn the tracks of every member of the ensemble, and who had to improvise a solution to 'swing hell' whenever three or more members of the company had to cancel. Sadly, they are often looked down upon as not having been good enough to have got a real role. In my opinion, they are underappreciated geniuses.

I completely agree. If I had ever had the talent, I think the most amazing career ever would have been a Les Mis touring cast swing. Alas.

Agent Foxtrot
04-22-2011, 02:45 PM
Missed the edit window -

That was one of the most fun aspects of the show for me - the tracking and transitions which were more or less set from the original production, but were also subject to tinkering. For instance, the body that Thenardier carries in the sewer is always the smallest student in the cast, whoever that might have been.

Finding out that Enjolras goes from a kneeling member of the chain gang to part of the crowd as Jean Valjean presents his yellow ticket of leave, to a guy being paid in the factory, to one of Javert's policemen during Fantine's arrest, to Enjolras, to the old waiter at the wedding back to Enjolras for the finale is really mindblowingly cool. And everybody goes through this...

The ones that totally amazed me were the swings, who had to learn the tracks of every member of the ensemble, and who had to improvise a solution to 'swing hell' whenever three or more members of the company had to cancel. Sadly, they are often looked down upon as not having been good enough to have got a real role. In my opinion, they are underappreciated geniuses.This is so informative! Thank you!

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