Auf die Barrikaden wrote:On the other hand, John Owen-Jones was elected most popular Valjean in the mid 2000s by audience vote.
Prisoner 24653 wrote:I think that first experience colors each fan's view of what the show "should" look and sound like.
Prisoner 24653 wrote:This is quite an interesting topic that I've been meaning to reply to for ages, but never quite got around to it. I think we all are, to some extent, shaped by our earliest experiences of the show, whether it's from a cast recording, seeing the show live, watching one of the televised anniversary concerts, seeing the movie, or even being introduced via an out-of-context rendition of one of the songs (e.g. Susan Boyle's IDAD, a version of DYHTPS used for a political rally, or something else). I think that first experience colors each fan's view of what the show "should" look and sound like. Even if they didn't like everyone in their first cast, it leaves a mark (and I think the same is true of other shows, as well -- Phantom Phans will no doubt have their view of the show colored by who their first Phantom was, whether it was Crawford, Wilkinson, Butler, Karimloo, or someone else).
As far as my own experiences . . . well, let's see. My very first exposure to LM was the original London cast album, since my sister was hooked on it. In the next few years, I got to hear the Complete Symphonic Recording and see the 10th anniversary concert and a live performance (Craig Schulman was Valjean, Lea Salonga was Éponine, and I don't recall anyone else who was in it -- only found out about Craig and Lea years after the fact, since I was rather young at the time and only really started paying attention to who was in what cast when I fully got into theatre fandoms about twelve years ago). And after that, it was quite a while before I got to see a live performance of the show again -- that first time was in 1995, and then I didn't see it onstage again until 2013 when I saw the US anniversary tour and a local community theatre's production. Though in the years in between, I'd gotten to see a few video bootlegs and the 2012 film, so I wasn't entirely deprived.
As for how that affected my view of the show and how it "should" be . . . Honestly, I'm not sure. I do have a bit of a bias in favor of Colm and other Valjeans with "Colm-like" qualities, but I can also appreciate those who are very different (like Geronimo, JOJ, Chris Murray, Drew Sarich, and others). I love Philip Quast as Javert but also have fond memories of Roger Allam and quite a few others, and which one is at the top of my list often depends on who I've listened to recently (though really, that can apply to many of the other characters, as well). Michael Ball and Rebecca Caine remain my favorite Marius and Cosette, but there have also been others I really liked. I tend to prefer Éponines who have a certain vulnerability that comes across in their singing, rather than just power-belters, and I'm sure that the fact that Frances Ruffelle and Kaho Shimada were the first two I heard had a big influence on that (even though there are others I prefer to them now).
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