Les Mis Gone Wrong

Any discussion related to any production or staging of Boublil and Schönberg's Les Misérables.
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deHavilland
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Les Mis Gone Wrong

Postby deHavilland » Mon Aug 12, 2013 12:27 am

For a three-hour show that's been running for twenty-eight years, Les Mis has an awful lot of stories of mishaps that have taken place; costume malfunctions, the turntable getting stuck, the barricade getting stuck, the runaway cart getting stuck, the travelator bridge getting stuck, and so on! So here's the place to share some of the more memorable whoops moments you've either seen, heard or heard of for us to gasp over and speculate whether the urban legends of Les Mis theatrical yore are true or not.
"Quand vous aurez besoin de Bahorel, capitaine, Bahorel est là! Je sais faire trébucher tous les chevaux du garde-corps avec une ficelle... Rien qu'une petite ficelle. Enfin, pensez à Bahorel du Café Musain!"

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Re: Les Mis Gone Wrong

Postby deHavilland » Mon Aug 12, 2013 12:28 am

Earlier today in conversation I brought up the fateful tale tale of the Night of the Three Marii, a story I had heard long ago for which many of the details I'd long since forgotten. But as it's recently reappeared on the interent (and seems to only be available on weird Japanese internet-capturing sites), I'll repost it here for posterity, however true it may or may not be:

The Night of Three Marii

a performance of Les Mis in Dublin that had 3 actors in one night play Marius.
by Chip

There have been many times things have not exactly gone according to plan in Les Mis over the years but this was surely one of the more unique incidents featuring as it did three Marii, none of which was even the regular one, and a supporting cast of highly enthusiastic oysters.

It was late February of 1999 and the UK Tour company was settling into the special Dublin engagement with Colm Wilkinson. Colm was not the only performer to join the cast in Dublin, Matt Rawle had come aboard as Marius and had gone on through previews and opening night without a hitch but just two days later he called in sick. Well not to worry, this cast featured a most excellent understudy in the form of Adrian Smith who normally played Feuilly.

Adrian found out he would be going on that Thursday evening after having sampled some of Dublin's fresh oysters at the opening night party 48 hours earlier on Tuesday night. He probably should have left the party and checked out Molly Malone and gone with her cockles and muscles instead since the oysters seemed to have taken umbrage at his ingesting them. Though they forgot to bring along a red banner they were about to "rise up" shall we term it and launch a little insurrection of their own soon. In short, they were about to give poor Adrian much grief.

Adrian wasn't the only one to experience the revolt of the oysters -- or was that the revolting oysters? Some of the others attending the opening night gala had come down sick following the incubation period for oyster poisoning which is 24 hours and doctors were dispatched to the fallen. Adrian was still not too queasy by early on Thursday though by curtain time he was starting to feel a bit poorly. But the show must go on as someone once said who obviously never ate tainted oysters in their life.

Adrian went on and as he performed the ensemble roles a Marius plays in the first hour he started to feel more and more sick. Things really got worse by the time Paris rolled around and he went on for the first time as Marius in the show. He soon found that departing the stage that evening after scenes featured a detour to the john as he was far more than merely queasy at this point.. I guess the oysters didn't have their equity cards in order and felt guilty going on stage illegally and were trying their best to "leave the premises."

Things got bad then things got worse but what to do? Les Mis casts have at least two understudies for each of the major roles so why not get Adrian to bed and send on the second cover? Well the second cover had left the cast right before the Dublin run and his replacement was brand new and had not yet been rehearsed in the role. So Adrian bravely persevered.

But his condition was deteriorating rapidly. After Thenardier and his gang try to rob Valjean's house, Valjean rushes in and worries aloud that Javert may have discovered him and Cosette (Poppy Tierney) is suppose to use that moment to turn and rush to the garden gate to spend a few precious seconds holding Marius' hands. But when Poppy reached the gate that night there was no romantic hand holding going on as Marius was finding the john far more attractive to be near than Cosette by that time.

Well maybe Adrian would feel better after resting during intermission or interval as it is termed over there. Adrian didn't. Adrian felt worse. Adrian soldiered on.

Now when Adrian left the stage earlier in the show for costume changes and what not he could deal with business off stage. However Marius was now at the barricade for the duration and the students of 1832 didn't exactly have port-a-potties on the premises. What to do? "Little Fall of Rain" was a bit of a problem since Adrian couldn't get up and tell poor Éponine (Alex Sharpe) to wait while he used a bucket that had been stationed conveniently in the wings for him by this time. When Éponine expired Marius' reaction was pretty dramatic though not exactly following the traditional blocking. Adrian waved wildly to the students to come over immediately and as they cradled Éponine and before David Bardsley (Enjolras) could comfort Marius singing "she is the first to fall," this Marius had dashed off into the wings on the dead run! Rob Miller, filling in for Adrian in the role of Feuilly filled in for him here as well singing the lines, "her name was Éponine, her life was cold and dark but she was unafraid," which makes one wonder just how Feuilly knew Éponine so well . . . hmmmmm.

Adrian remained off stage after that for a good while. When Enjolras is suppose to say "Marius, rest," David, doing some very quick thinking, turned to Feuilly instead and said "Find Marius!"

After returning and getting through his part for a bit longer Adrian had to rush off again during Gavroche's death. He returned afterwards bringing his little bucket in tow as well as Alison Crowther, a swing with the cast, who was assigned the dubious duty of making sure Adrian hit the pail and not the stage floor. So Adrian took care of business in front of 3000 patrons. The cast tried to screen him as much as possible so I don't know how many audience members spotted Adrian and wondered at Marius' inordinate fascination for the bottom of a bucket but hopefully not many.

But it had become obvious by this point that Adrian wasn't getting any better and there would be no way he could sit there and sing "Empty Chairs" without emptying his chair and rushing off the stage in the process. Now the resident director with this company was Shaun Kerrison who had once been a Marius understudy in London. It was clear what must be done and Shaun went off to get into costume.

In the meantime Adrian was nearly a goner and he finally had to crawl off stage during the final battle and Tom Moss, who was playing his usual role of Joly, was quickly drafted and fell down wounded in his stead. Colm called out to him as Marius several times so no one would think Valjean had decided Joly would make a better match for Cosette then dragged Tom down into the sewers with him. Fortunately Tom was no stranger to the sewers being regularly featured as "The Body" that Thenardier (well know Irish character actor John Kavanagh) dragged in night after night. But Colm had dibs on Tom that night so John had to quickly nab himself a spare body for the occasion.

And Tom Moss that night must have entered the Guiness Book of World Records, Les Mis Division, as having performed the role of Marius for the shortest amount of stage time ever and without singing a single word. Surely a feat of such magnitude that his grandchildren will revel in the glory decades from now.

Well Shaun was ready and in costume in time for "Empty Chairs" and did an outstanding job from there through the end of the show thus holding down the anchor lap of the Marii Relay in fine fashion. It was a night he and Tom and especially poor Adrian will never forget. It was the night of the three Marii!

Both Matt and Adrian needed at least one more day to recover so the following night, just to make things more interesting, a fourth Marii popped up. It was the old second cover, Mark McGee, who had already left the cast but who was returning that day to visit his girlfriend who was still with the company. He was drafted for the day to return to the show and though he never had the chance to actually go on as Marius the whole time he had been with the tour he did that one magical night in Dublin with Colm.

And as Les Mis has an Epilogue so does this Les Mis tale. About a month later Matt came down with laryngitis and had to leave at the end of Act 1 one night. Adrian went on in Act 2 as Marius for the first time since he had shared the role with Tom, Shaun and the oysters chorus. At curtain call Colm not only shared his bow with Adrian but gave him a big grin and "thumbs up" as the cast all warmly applauded not only his efforts of that night but of another memorable one not that long ago. The oysters, not getting the star billing they felt they deserved, were a no show that night. Funny, Adrian didn't seem to miss them at all.
"Quand vous aurez besoin de Bahorel, capitaine, Bahorel est là! Je sais faire trébucher tous les chevaux du garde-corps avec une ficelle... Rien qu'une petite ficelle. Enfin, pensez à Bahorel du Café Musain!"

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Re: Les Mis Gone Wrong

Postby Acaila » Mon Aug 12, 2013 12:43 am

Now, not all of these are truly Les Mis Gone Wrong since a good number were intentional, but I can't pass up an opportunity to link to the famous Les Mis Blooper Reel! :D

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Thsl50Fd3RA
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Re: Les Mis Gone Wrong

Postby MmeBahorel » Mon Aug 12, 2013 1:41 am

I am the source of two of those blooper reel recordings, and you can actually hear me on the one. That's me making the snarky comment about the inn being on fire. Turned out to be pretty cool - it was a bit of a down show until that happened, and the interruption energised everyone. Emma Hunton was a total pro for just keeping going with her song, better than poor Lisa Howard, who as Mme T made her entrance kinda slowly and just sorta stood there trying to figure out how much to actually go forward with the show until they finally were told to evacuate. I went round back to see if anyone knew what was going on, and it was a real trip to see the whole cast in costume just standing around outside. Fantine (Thursday Farrar) had a red hoodie on over her nightgown. Graham Rowat told us they had even less clue than we did about the fire alarm, and Dutch Whitlock (Gav) announced that Emma was crying. The girl got a standing ovation for starting over with CoaC when we were all allowed back in. Apparently, the cause was someone running into one of the fire alarms in the facility kitchen - evacuated two theatres and the restaurant.

The other is the missing Thenardier. Gary Beach just completely missed his cue, for ages. No one knew what happened there, even after the fact. Ensemble was constantly looking offstage, directing lines into the wings, just desperately trying to get a damned Thenardier out there. When Gary finally arrived, he wasn't even wearing his jacket, but at least he had his hat.

I never had a broken barricade (I miss all the good stuff), but it did almost get stuck in Peoria one night. Cosette (Stephanie Waters) had to do IML without a gate, Bart Shatto (Valjean) entering in the gap between pieces that they were desperately trying to move. The stage hands got everything set and were literally locking the gate into place right on the beat where Marius had to start climbing it. Good work, everyone - that could have been a much bigger issue. (I have friends who have seen broken barricade performances, and a One Day More where the gate got stuck so all they could do was open it and everyone marched into Valjean's garden to start a revolution.
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Re: Les Mis Gone Wrong

Postby Acaila » Mon Aug 12, 2013 1:52 am

MmeBahorel wrote: and everyone marched into Valjean's garden to start a revolution.


:lol: Oh that is fantastic! :D

I've never had any really fun ones either. Crockery in Beggars at the Feast rolling into the pit and hitting someone, the only other one was I once saw Gavroche not make his throw, but I think that's something that's not officially considered "going wrong"
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Re: Les Mis Gone Wrong

Postby deHavilland » Mon Aug 12, 2013 2:12 am

MmeBahorel wrote: a One Day More where the gate got stuck so all they could do was open it and everyone marched into Valjean's garden to start a revolution.


I can totally picture this and in my head it's brilliant.
"Quand vous aurez besoin de Bahorel, capitaine, Bahorel est là! Je sais faire trébucher tous les chevaux du garde-corps avec une ficelle... Rien qu'une petite ficelle. Enfin, pensez à Bahorel du Café Musain!"

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Re: Les Mis Gone Wrong

Postby MmeBahorel » Mon Aug 12, 2013 3:22 am

Let me rephrase - the gate wasn't stuck so much as the turntable was stuck and thus the track the gate was on was not lined up for them to get it off. It isn't just on wheels - there's a little track in the stage that it runs on. So if the track has to be angled at, say, the 10 o'clock position but the turntable is stuck with it at the 8 o'clock position, that gate is going nowhere.

So the visual effect was a stuck gate, but the cause was a stuck turntable. (and a long intermission to try to fix it) I don't recall if this was a venue that would ordinarily use the trapdoor for the Thenardiers, but there are so many venues that lack the trap that Thenardiers running on from the side doesn't really stick in the brain the way everyone marching into Valjean's garden does.

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Re: Les Mis Gone Wrong

Postby Acaila » Mon Aug 12, 2013 3:36 am

I can imagine Valjean's inner monologue "See! You let one boy into the garden Cosette and now there's an entire revolution traipsing in!" :lol:
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Re: Les Mis Gone Wrong

Postby YoungStudentMarius » Mon Aug 12, 2013 5:41 am

Oh, man, I'm loving the idea of the revolution in Valjean's garden. Plus,
Acaila wrote:I can imagine Valjean's inner monologue "See! You let one boy into the garden Cosette and now there's an entire revolution traipsing in!" :lol:

...that is amazing. :lol:

The Three Marii story is hilarious, and also just pitiful. The poor guy. :( Well, guys. But seriously, he seems like such a trooper, and to be that sick...oh, man, I can't even imagine. But it is a really awesome story.

Unfortunately, (or perhaps fortunately?) I have never seen something go wrong during a performance, to the best of my knowledge, but granted, I haven't seen that many. The night after I was there, once, though, I heard that one of the moving set pieces during DYHTPS got stuck, and they actually had to stop it and skip the number. I don't know quite how true that is, but the person I was talking to was very vehement about it, at least.

And, as always, that blooper reel has to be one of the best things ever. :mrgreen:
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Re: Les Mis Gone Wrong

Postby Auf die Barrikaden » Mon Aug 12, 2013 7:52 pm

Duisburg Miz-haps:

Part Two : "Did you know"-s

...that it is very difficult to sing with half your whig stuck down your throat ? (Brujon - 05/08/1997).

...that Javert Brussmann nearly didn’t make it over the barricade on 12/08/1997, because someone had taken a few parts off the barricade to be repaired and hadn't replaced them ?

...that Javert Brussmann nearly went up instead of down when he jumped of the bridge on 20/08/1997 ? The buttons on his coat got stuck in the railing of the bridge...

...that Enjolras Miller got the bridge on his head in Paris on 21/08/1997 ?

...that Lesgles Höltzel took a solo bow on 26/08/1997 ?

...that Marius Lewis tore the seat out of his pants on his première and on his second show as Marius?

...that Bamatabois Haefele tried to convince Javert Brussmann that he “kam harmlos aus dem Park” whilst standing in front of a full house with his pants undone ? (11/09/1997)

...that, although everyone considered him as such, Marcus Popp was not the fastest conductor ? That honour goes (by a few seconds) to Lukas Höfling.

...that Bernhard ruined a hell of a lot of “batons” ?

...that only once Gavroche figured out that he couldn’t throw the bag with bullets with his right arm because he had been shot in that arm ? (21/10/1997)

...that if you give a Marius cover who hasn’t played for a while, a pat on the back, you get an enormous dustcloud ? (29/10/1997)

...that Mastix can also be used to epilate the hair from your chest ? (Brujon 01/11/1997)

...that Tom always refused to have Daniël for dead body ?

...that Enjolras Miller had to pull his own cart on 20/11/1997 ?

...that on 23/11/1997 there was a guest appearance of the Addams family’s “Thing” in the ABC-café, when a hand appeared from under the barricade to pick up a pin ?

...that Drew Pulver tried to Sumo wrestle Daniël ? Only once ?

...that Gavroche, poking his finger in Brujons belly, once asked Brujon Coninx whether that was a pillow under there ? (21/12/1997)

...that people cough with an average of once every four seconds during “Bring Ihn Heim” ?

...that it is rather awkward to have to play Thenardier without First and Second traveler ? (14/03/1998)

...That Zoltan Miller nearly hung himself with his own “Schleife” ? (17/03/1998)

...that on 21/03/1998 the big barricade exploded ? Softly ?

...that Sandor played the entire Fantine’s arrest, cartcrash and trial with his hat in front of him, on account of torn pants ? (16/05/1998)

...that you could hear but not see Javert Pulver in the Finale I on 20/05/1998 ?

...that, judging by the size of the gloves, Mickey Mouse also played Les Mis ?

...that with all the cutlery that ended up in the orchestra pit Bernhard can start his own restaurant ?

...that Cosette isn’t too bright ? She says she saw three men beyond the wall. Actually they’re five. And one woman.

...that playing Thenardier with Marjol Flore is actually dangerous ? Frank Logemann even got bitten ! (17/07/1998)

...that Courfeyrac threw his walking stick from Lovely Ladies in the audience on 26/07/1998 ?
...that the trickchair in “Hospital” fell down when Javert sang “Valjean”, even before Valjean touched the chair ? (04/09/1998)

...that “Ich bezahl euch was Ihr wollt.” becomes a problem when Valjean forgets his wallet ? (30/09/1998)

...that Daniël Thenardier really struck Éponine down in the attack on 18/11/1998 ?

...that on two occasions we played cartcrash without cart ?

...that twice we had two drunks on the wedding ?

...that nearly every fireman helps us shout at the beginning of the barricade ?

...that “Komm schon, Captain” looks rather strange without Captain ? (08/01/1999)

...that the “Vorderhaus” only once had to remove part of the audience ? (13/01/1999)

...that it took two of us to liberate Axel after he got stuck in the barricade on 18/03/1999 ?

...that Gavroche only once could end his line before he got shot ? (05/05/1999)

...that the show started late on 04/06/1999 because of the cello player. Not that he wasn’t there. He’d only forgotten his cello.

...that under the revolve there is an gigantic collection of hairpins, needles, AND contactlenses ?

...that Kasper Javert really meant it when he sang “Aus einander” on 02/07/1999 ? He actually threw his club in the orchestra pit.

...that people distributed leaflets “Don’t vote Lamarque” in Paris on 19/07/1999 ?

...that sometimes people in the audience know the show as well as we do ? And sing and act the entire show from their seat ? (07/08/1999)

...that one of the firemen once brought a pillow to take a nap during the show ? (13/10/1999)

...that Marius Morandi knocked Thenardier Dam out for real in the wedding ? (22/10/1999)

...that it takes two Toni’s to get the microphone out of a make up chair ? Especially when Daniël puts it there ? (29/10/1999)

...that Daniël lost his contact lens, found it and lost it again because he spat it out ? (19/11/1999)


Source: http://web.archive.org/web/200809280943 ... ck-ups.htm
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Re: Les Mis Gone Wrong

Postby deHavilland » Mon Aug 12, 2013 8:31 pm

This is spectacular, thanks for sharing Chris! And a big thank you to whichever cast or crew member (since I'm assuming it must have been one of them!) complied this.

How did the big barricade softly explode? Why did Lesgle take a solo bow? How does a person get stuck on the barricade? Gah, amazing.
"Quand vous aurez besoin de Bahorel, capitaine, Bahorel est là! Je sais faire trébucher tous les chevaux du garde-corps avec une ficelle... Rien qu'une petite ficelle. Enfin, pensez à Bahorel du Café Musain!"

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Re: Les Mis Gone Wrong

Postby Acaila » Mon Aug 12, 2013 8:33 pm

Hehe, those are adorable (Lesgle's solo bow is mystifying yet awesome!) and that's reminded me of a few more!

When Christopher Jacobsen was on as understudy Valjean once in London, his wig wasn't on right in the prologue. After a lot of people trying to fix it subtly on stage, he ended up yanking it off, throwing it into the wings, and doing all of Valjean's Soliloquy in his wig cap to a rather large ovation :D

Again, don't know if it's gone wrong as such, but I love the little story about the barricades at the start of this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkpQpeno2eI

Also I seem to have heard a lot of stories about Marii splitting their pants, particularly on the gate bit. And Jason Forbach doing the whole cafe scene with his trouser flap down.
Revolution: like Christmas come early only with more death
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"Les Amis Fun Package - The Awesome Traits of Each"
"She's basically Enjolras meets Amy Pond"
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Re: Les Mis Gone Wrong

Postby WhoIam » Mon Aug 12, 2013 8:55 pm

Gibbons? Well, points for creativity, I guess. :lol:
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Re: Les Mis Gone Wrong

Postby Auf die Barrikaden » Mon Aug 12, 2013 9:06 pm

deHavilland wrote:This is spectacular, thanks for sharing Chris! And a big thank you to whichever cast or crew member (since I'm assuming it must have been one of them!) complied this.

How did the big barricade softly explode? Why did Lesgle take a solo bow? How does a person get stuck on the barricade? Gah, amazing.


The cast member's name is Daniel Coninx, factory foreman from 97 till the end.

Splitting pants...IIRC Michael Ball once told a story about him ripping his pants in the Final Battle and Colm Wilkinson taking revenge for having to carry his heavy arse *hehe* around the stage each night by revealing it to the audience. :D
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Re: Les Mis Gone Wrong

Postby Auf die Barrikaden » Mon Aug 12, 2013 9:16 pm

And I heard and read probably close to a dozen stories about the trickchair not working the way it should. Either amounts to Valjean having half of it in his hand or nothing at all. :D
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