What a night. When we went to London in May 2015, I almost decided to leave my husband and daughter at the hotel to catch Les Misérables at West End by myself. Why? Because I’ve always wanted to see the musical. You see, I really, really loved the book. I first read it around 2004 and bawled my eyes out when Valjean died. I read it many many times after that – at least once every year.
I knew there was a musical based on the book, but I never bothered much about it. I knew “I Dreamed a Dream” and “On My Own” like everyone else, but that was it. Then my Singaporean colleague told me that the Philippines’ very own Lea Salonga was chosen to play Eponine in the Les Misérables 10th anniversary concert, and Fantine in the 25th. He said it was a really huge deal, and I felt embarrassed not knowing about it.
So I went and found the 10th and 25th anniversary online, and watched it all alone. I was in tears. Since then, I’ve watched whatever performances I could find on YouTube and kept hoping Les Mis would come to Singapore. And they did!
Here are some of my random thoughts…
MY TOP 3 FAVORITE CAST
- Simon Gleeson as Jean Valjean was really the star of the show. He was raging, he was vulnerable, he was conflicted, he was honorable. In the book and in the musical, Valjean is the heart and soul of the story. Simon Gleeson gave justice to this part. Plus he had a very powerful, emotive voice.
- Patrice Tipoki as Fantine was heartbreaking. I started tearing up during this scene –
I’ve seen your face before
Show me some way to help you
How have you come to grief
In a place such as this?
M’sieur, don’t mock me now, I pray
It’s hard enough I’ve lost my pride
You let your foreman send me away
Yes, you were there, and turned aside
I never did no wrong
Is it true, what I have done?
My daughter’s close to dying
To an innocent soul?
If there’s a God above
Had I only known then…
He’d let me die instead.
When she sang “I Dreamed a Dream,” she didn’t belt it out – she sang it very hauntingly. Again I was in tears. By the time we got to Fantine’s Death, I was a mess. I didn’t have a tissue or a hanky, and I was wearing makeup (smoky eyes and lots of mascara no less), so I had to keep dabbing at my eyes and my cheeks and trying to stifle my sniffles. It was a good thing there were a lot of sniffles all around in the dark – not just mine.
- Earl Carpenter as Inspector Javert had that dogged determination. He was able to really show another side to the character when he sang “Stars.” Perhaps my only complaint is that his voice sometimes sound a teeny bit like Simon Gleeson’s so during songs when they sing together (e.g. “Confrontation”), there are parts when it’s a bit difficult to distinguish who is who.
MY TOP 3 FAVORITE SONGS
- “One Day More.” One word – goosebumps. This was the most loudly applauded song tonight, for good reason.
- “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables.” I loved the part where candles were on the floor, and as Marius sang, each of his (dead) friends came and took the candle and snuffed it out.
- “Stars.” I had no idea how they would show Javert jumping to his death, especially after he stepped onto a ledge (which was about 2 or 3 feet high). I was thinking if he jumps to the ground, it wouldn’t look impressive at all. But when the props went flying up and the background looked like it was flying up, you really get the sensation that Javert was falling. Then black out.
I always buy the souvenir programme (it’s my collection) and I had a pleasant surprise while looking through this one – a picture of Esang de Torres from The Voice Kids. She plays the young Cosette in Les Mis Manila.
This was definitely one of my favorite date nights ever.