Beyond The Barricade, Is There A World You Long To See?

It really wasn’t a good start to 2012. I was down in the dumps partly because of a really long recovery period from an injury. But really, my sad state was really because of a series of related questions that I couldn’t find any convincing answer to end 2011. The questions were “What are you passionate about?” “What makes you happy?” “What is it that will make you jump out of bed in the morning rarin’ to go?”

Two weekends into 2012, I found a copy of the 25th Anniversary of Les Miserables. The one that was performed at the O2 theater in London. Wasn’t really expecting much from it. Loaded up. Clicked play…

…and I found myself singing along to the entire musical. I found it astounding because I really couldn’t remember the last time I Iistened to the CDs. I first listened to this over two decades ago. I was instantly transported back to the first time I’ve ever heard the Les Miserables Cast Recording. I remember falling in love with the wit of the book and the power of the music. This was the cast recording that made me fall for the music of the theater and discover Sondheim, Bricusse, Lloyd Weber, diPietro and other lyricists and composers of the theater.

I remember trooping to Meralco Theater over two decades ago only to be told there were no tickets left.

I remember the confrontation duet where Valjean and Javert face off after Fantine’s death.

I remember RED AND BLACK!

I remember STARS!

I remember ONE MORE DAY!

I remember ON MY OWN and a very heated debate over who was the better Eponine: Lea Salonga or Kaho Shimada. (ME: Kaho Shimada because of the vulnerability she brought to the role. THEM: Lea Salonga for power and style)

I remember BRING HIM HOME! (Alfie Boe’s operatic interpretation was something else)

I remember that killer call to action FINALE.

The copy I got came with some great supplementary documentaries. Matt Lucas’ (Little Britain fame) road to playing Thenardier, a day in the life of Cameron Mackintosh as he closes down the production at the Barbican and oversees the 25th anniversary production, and a behind the scenes of the first run through of the anniversary performance.

The O2 performance was a concert just like the 10th anniversary celebration. They had clever ways of showing key scenes. I particularly liked the way they “built” the barricade in this performance. It was symbolic, high-tech and very dramatic. I will not spoil it for anyone planning to catch this.

Alfie Boe sang a really different interpretation of Valjean. An opera singer by trade, he had some operatic affectations that I sometimes found distracting. But after “Bring Him Home”, I was sold. It felt like “The Prayer” where the power of his voice….

Lea, as always, killed it with Fantine. I thought Samantha Barks, the girl who played, Eponine, had some missteps with some songs. Very pretty Eponine though. Nick Jonas (of the Jonas Brothers) was just okay as Marius. Nothing really spectacular. The guy who played Javert was also okay. But I felt he lacked  the power of the Javert in the cast recordings. I thought he was too easily overshadowed by Alfie Boe during the confrontation duet.


I missed this when it was shown in the cinemas. Seeing the Phantom Of The Opera on the big screen in digital HD was a treat. Would have loved seeing this in larger than life HD. Would love it even more to finally see this live. (sigh). Ah well, one for the bucket list.

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