I just got the original London cast recording of “Les Miserables” and I have to say… I like it. Yes, I like it very much.
Having heard nothing but the Broadway cast until now, I didn’t know the glory that was Colm Wilkinson. Wow, he’s amazing. I’ve seen Les Mis a couple of times now, but I never get tired of it and thank the Gods for artists such as Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg who give us such wonderful, touching, and inspiring things to listen to.
[sub] Plus, I haven’t started a thread in quite some time now. [/sub]
If you liked the original cast recording, you’ll love the 10th anniversary concert which was done in Prince Albert Hall. It’s available on video, DVD (the actors do this in costume) and on CD. It stars Colm Wilkinson as Valjean, Philip Quaist as Javert, Lea Solanga as Eponine and Michael Maguire as Enjolras (does he have a voice!!).
FWIW, Colm Wilkinson, calling himself C.T. Wilkinson, also played Che in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s original version of “Evita.” I mean the original original version: he wrote it, then he recorded it before it had been performed. Then he rewrote it and had it performed, and the story goes on from there. Wilkinson is on the pre-performance version of the CD, and he’s quite good.
Mebbe we should start our own little SDMB Colm Wilkinson fan club! … or not.
Just as an aside, if there’s any intersection of the set of Les Mis lovers and the set of Iron Chef fans, Chairman Kaga plays a (from the bits I’ve heard) magnificent Val Jean in the Japanese cast of Les Mis.
He also plays a spectacular Jesus in the Japanese cast of Jesus Christ Superstar.
What, no mention of Michael Ball? You know, Marius (London & the 10th Anniversary Concert)? Talk about some pipes! I have a number of his albums (had to pay import prices to get 'em!), and they’re universally wonderful.
BTW, the 10th Anniversary Concert is available on video, also. It’s not called that though - it’s called the “Dream Cast.” Excellent.
Colm Wilkinson is great, but he grates on my nerves if I listen to him too much. His compilation of Broadway songs is painful, yet I loved him in “Les Mis” and the original concept of “Jekyll & Hyde.” I feel the same about Linda Eder.
And that 10 year anniversary thing cracks me up every time I watch it - “17 Jean Valjeans” reminds me too much of The Kids In The Hall’s “30 Helens Agree” sketch.
“17 Jean Valjeans agree - stealing bread is a bad idea!”
The original concept of Jekyl & Hyde was good, but in my view the unmatched best was the Broadway album - Robert Cuccoli as Henry, Linda Eder (again!) as the then-renamed Lucy, and Christianne Noll (Ellen in Miss Saigon) as Emma.
Michael Ball is amazing – I think he was the best thing to come out of Aspects of Love.
As for the OP -
M’seur le Mayor, you’ll wear a different chain…
I’ve seen Les Mis 21 times, with different casts in different cities. And if I weren’t such a tough manly bastard, I’d admit to STILL getting a tear in my eye when Eponine dies in Marius’ arms.
I just saw it last weekend (the touring show, in Louisville). The two moments that always get me are when Fantine dies, and the whole bit after the big slaughter at the barricade (Valjean takes Marius below the street, Javert comes in looking for Valjean, then they turn the stage to show Enroljas fallen and draped in the red flag).
I like Colm Wilkinson, but the recording I like the best is the Complete Symphonic version. Gary Morris transcends his “Wind Beneath My Wings”/“Another World” days, and Fantine and the Thernardiers are perfect. Plus, as far as I know, it is the only complete recording available.
As far as Valjean goes, the one in the current touring company (can’t think of his name, don’t have my program with me) is fantastic. I’d put him up there with the greats–but then again, I haven’t heard any of them live.
Yes, I agree with everyone. Excuse the redundancy of this reply, but I have a dire need to write this.
Lea Salonga in the Anniversary album in truly phenomenal. Since I purchased those CDs I have not been able to listen to any other version because Salonga was so good as Eponine.
Michael Ball WAS very good as Marius. However, I think the character of Marius, not Mr. Ball’s performance of him, that is often overlooked. I don’t know why exactly Valjean and Javert come to mind first but they do. One might say that it is because Marius does not enter until Act 2. However, look at Eponine and Cosette… Eponine tends to stand out in people’s minds more than Cosette. My hypothesis(feel free to yell at me all you wish) is that it is because Javert, Valjean, and Eponine have all of the more memorable moments and songs. It is only natural to think of them before the other… no matter how wonderful a job an actor(actress)does portraying the other characters.
Michael Ball is awesome. (I agree, Bricker, great in Aspects of Love… absolutely enchanting.)
For more Lea Salonga(not upon request, but because I love her voice) try Miss Saigon… I didn’t like the musical at first but it grew on me, and have been listening to it for the last two days. It just went off Broadway though… I am always sad when a show goes off Broadway before I get a chance to see it.
Okay, I think I am done babbling musical theatre now.
This thread made me want to listen to my copy, and now I’m bawling my eyes out. Sim, hon, I hope you’re happy with yourself, making me cry like this.
On a somewhat related note, has anyone actually read “Les Miserables”? I bought the unabridged version years and years ago, but I haven’t tried to sit down and get through it in a while. Is it worth it to try again?
The book is definitely worth reading. Hugo is probably my favorite author. Both The Hunchback of Notre Dame amd Les Miserables are great novels. There are truths in them that go far beyond what can be portrayed in the stage adaptation. Even if they lacked a great stories and character(which, by all means, they do not), the beauty of the language and imagery of the books makes me read them over and over again.
Yes. But may I make a recommendation? Buy a copy of the abridged version. Don’t read it, just have it handy. Then, when Hugo goes into one of his irrelevant 100-page dissertations about the state of the Paris sewer system or how people speak, check the abridged version to figure out how far you can skip ahead without missing anything. You miss a lot if you read only the abridged version, though.
This is what I’ve always wanted from a Les Miz soundtrack:
Colm Wilkinson (everything but Symphonic) as Valjean. Obviously. (I read that, the first time the original cast heard him sing Bring Him Home, one castmember turned to the director and said “You said it was supposed to be like a prayer. You didn’t say you were getting the Almighty to sing it!”)
Terrence Mann (Broadway) as Javert. I love Terrence Mann. His Chauvelin is not to be believed.
Frances Ruffelle (London, Broadway) as Eponine, but from the Bdwy soundtrack, where she was allowed to shine more, rather than the London. Not that I dislike Lea Salonga, but I loved Frances Ruffelle.
Michael Ball (London, Symphonic, and 10th Anniversary) as Marius.
Ruthie Henshall (10th Anniversary) as Fantine.
Alun Armstrong (London & 10th Anniversary) as Thenadier. He may be better known as the guy whose head Mel Gibson smashed in Braveheart, but he’s hysterical as Thenardier.
Rebecca Caine (London) as Cosette. Plus the reintroduction of the song “I Saw Him Once.” Too bad they took it out.
Michael Maguire (10th Anniversary) as Enjolras.
Other roles I don’t care about.
Yes, I have actually gone out and purchased ALL four of them. Sigh.
I love this CD. I also have the Dream Cast on tape. There are several heartstoppingly beautiful songs i.e. I dreamed a dream, A little fall of rain, Stars, Bring him home, In my life but I also like the humor of Mme Thenardier when she sings “I used to dream that I would meet a prince, but God allmighty have you seen what’s happened since? Master of the House, isn’t worth my spit, comforter, philosopher and lifelong shit…” I laugh every time.