London Cast 2017

Any discussion related to any production or staging of Boublil and Schönberg's Les Misérables.
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Olivia_y
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London Cast 2017

Postby Olivia_y » Mon Jan 02, 2017 11:51 pm

Current company (until 10th June 2017):
Jean Valjean: Simon Gleeson
(u/s Adam Bayjou, Oliver Brenin, Anthony Hansen)
Javert: Jeremy Secomb (Hayden Tee 9th Jan - 22nd April)
(u/s Adam Pearce, Lee Van Geleen)
Fantine: Lucy O'Byrne
(u/s Sophie Reeves, Aimée Fisher)
Cosette: Charlotte Kennedy
(u/s Holly-Anne Hull, Samantha Thomas)
Marius: Paul Wilkins
(u/s Felix Mosse, Simon Lynch)
Éponine: Hollie O'Donoghue
(u/s Lauren Soley, Josie Kemp)
Enjolras: Chris Cowley
(u/s Jonny Purchase, Steffan Harri)
Thénardier: David Langham
(u/s Adam Pearce, Thomas Aldridge)
Madam Thénarider: Katy Secombe
(u/s Tamsin Dowsett, Lucyelle Cliffe)

Ensemble: Thomas Aldridge; Adam Bayjou; Oliver Brenin; Lucyelle Cliffe; Andy Conaghan; Vinny Coyle; Tamsin Dowsett; Aimée Fisher; Antony Hansen; Steffan Harri; Holly-Anne Hull; Will Jennings; Josie Kemp; Joanna Loxton; Simon Lynch; Kayleigh McKnight; Felix Mosse; Adam Pearce; Jonny Purchase; Sophie Reeves; Katy Secombe; Samantha Thomas; Lee Van Geleen; Danny Whitehead.

Update: Cast Change (from 12th June 2017)
Jean Valjean: Killian Donnelly
(u/s TBA)
Javert: Hayden Tee (from 17th July)
(u/s TBA)
Fantine: Carley Stenson
(u/s TBA)
Cosette: Charlotte Kennedy
(u/s TBA)
Marius: Paul Wilkins
(u/s TBA)
Éponine: Karis Jack
(u/s TBA)
Enjolras: Hyoie O’Grady
(u/s TBA)
Thénardier: Steven Meo
(u/s TBA)
Madam Thénarider: Jacqueline Tate
(u/s TBA)

Ensemble: Emma Barr; Adam Bayjou; Oliver Brenin; Ciarán Bowling; Hugo Chiarella; Andy Conaghan; Alice Ellen Wright; Sophie-May Feek; Catherine Hannay; Antony Hansen; Holly-Anne Hull; James Hume; Ciaran Joyce; Katie Kerr; Rebecca Lafferty; Jo Loxton; John Lumsden; Anna McGarahan; Jonny Purchase; Lauren Soley; Shaq Taylor; George Tebbutt; Lee Van Geleen; Danny Whitehead.
Last edited by Olivia_y on Tue May 30, 2017 9:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Olivia_y
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Re: London Cast 2017

Postby Olivia_y » Fri Jan 06, 2017 2:46 am

I've been wanting to post a review (or just general random thoughts really) on this cast for a while, but every time I start I get overwhelmed by what I'm trying to say and then I just give up. So I'll just do this instalments and see how that works out :oops:

I'll start with something small (before getting into individual performances): I really like the way Paul Wilkins and Hollie O'Donoghue play the relationship between Marius and Éponine - she's infatuated with him and he takes pity on her but doesn't notice her infatuation. Marius is only openly affectionate (picking her up and swinging her around) in instances where he's asking her about Cosette. He does come across a bit overly-distraught when she dies, but more it seems out of shock - indeed he sounds more broken up singing about Cosette in 'Drink with Me'.

(Some other Marius/Éponine pairings have (to me) felt to have been a bit over-affectionate, and people come away thinking they were best friends. But the last cast - Craig and Eva - seemed to play it to the opposite extreme, and it felt like he barely acknowledges who she is. Their blocking for ALFoR was so awkward - he wasn't even supporting her for most of it! Come on boy, she's dying over there!)

I'm really impressed with how quickly Hollie has settled into her character (I guess that's one of the advantages of casting someone who was already an understudy). I don't know what her full vocal range is, she makes the role sound effortless. When she first took over I could pick up a lot of Eva's Éponine in her performance, but she's really started to come into her own interpretation now. She treads the line between 'sad!Ponine' and 'angry!Ponine' really well. The only thing I don't like about her is the way she sings 'the streets are full of strangers', but that doesn't take away from the rest of the performance.

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Re: London Cast 2017

Postby 23623 » Sun Jan 08, 2017 12:49 pm

Guess what...when I had just watched the movie I believed that Marius and Éponine have been lovers for some time, and he abandons her for Cosette. That stupid idea didn't get out of my head until I read the book. :oops: I think in the musical Marius and Éponine are indeed best friends and I totally love their affectionate interactions because I sort of...ship them. Sue me. :mrgreen: To be honest Marius/Cosette rarely works for me in the musical. This ship may still have a chance if the Cosette is good enough, which unfortunately doesn't always happen.

Waiting for the rest of your review. :wink:
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Re: London Cast 2017

Postby Olivia_y » Sun Jan 08, 2017 2:23 pm

Okay on to Fantine (and of course as always opinions are merely my own :D )

I would say Lucy O'Byrne is quite possibly my favourite stage Fantine. Her voice isn't any more special than any of the other ones I've had the chance to watch live - in fact I'd say Rachelle Ann Go and Na-Young Jeon both had 'prettier' voices - so the audios probably won't do her justice. The thing about her I love is that she acts so well. In the past Fantine's parts have never been my favourite, I feel like they're a bit boring to watch even if the performer is a great singer, but with Lucy I'm actually invested in her scenes.

For instance, during Fantine's Arrest, her sense of desperation really comes through - she doesn't just make pleas to Javert, but to the other policemen and Bamatabois as well, like she's looking for a lifeline from anyone who might possibly throw her one. By the time she gets to 'he'd let me die instead' you really believe she was at her absolute lowest. Then during Fantine's death, she actually sounds like she's dying, which isn't an easy thing to achieve - some other Fantines sounded like they were just singing in interrupted sentences.

Of course Fantine's signature song is 'I Dreamed a Dream', and like I said, Lucy's voice isn't any better than most of the other Fantines, so if people are looking for a flawless delivery of the song they probably won't be that impressed. Indeed, the first part of the song (up to 'no wine untasted'), it's all pretty standard. Then after that it's like she starts channelling Anne Hathaway (as much as one could in a stage show) - anguished delivery in place of pretty singing voice - especially on the final line 'now life has killed the dream I dreamed'.
Last edited by Olivia_y on Mon Jan 09, 2017 12:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: London Cast 2017

Postby Morbidmuch_ » Sun Jan 08, 2017 6:40 pm

I'm really enjoying your reviews because I'm hoping to get to see Les Mis this spring :D
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Re: London Cast 2017

Postby Olivia_y » Mon Jan 09, 2017 12:31 am

Morbidmuch_ wrote:I'm hoping to get to see Les Mis this spring :D

Hope you'll enjoy it :D

23623 wrote:This ship may still have a chance if the Cosette is good enough, which unfortunately doesn't always happen.

I think Cosette is probably one of hardest roles to get 'right', and I'm not particularly fond of the way Charlotte Kennedy plays her, but I'll ramble on about that when I get to her :lol:

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Re: London Cast 2017

Postby 23623 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 11:23 am

I for one think that Fantine having a beautiful voice actually makes little sense. She should not sound beautiful at all. That's what Cosettes are for. She is a poor woman. She's miserable, desperate, totally broken. How can she still sing so flawlessly when she's physically and mentally weak from all the misery she suffers? :roll:
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Re: London Cast 2017

Postby deHavilland » Mon Jan 09, 2017 4:19 pm

23623 wrote:I for one think that Fantine having a beautiful voice actually makes little sense. She should not sound beautiful at all. That's what Cosettes are for. She is a poor woman. She's miserable, desperate, totally broken. How can she still sing so flawlessly when she's physically and mentally weak from all the misery she suffers? :roll:


Well, I would argue that since it's an operetta, she sings beautifully because it's more enjoyable for the audience. The singing is all figurative action anyway, these characters don't spend their lives actively singing at one another. As much as I still like to see a little grit from a Fantine, I would hate a performance where she just talk-weeps her way through I Dreamed a Dream.
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Re: London Cast 2017

Postby Olivia_y » Mon Jan 09, 2017 5:05 pm

Since I've already mentioned Charlotte Kennedy I'll move onto Cosette. Personally I think Cosette is one of the most difficult roles in the show - not just technically, it's a really difficult role to make likeable, and her likability is sort of a big deal.

She is essentially the driving force for both Marius and Valjean for most of the show, and given that the grown-up Cosette doesn't really have any external hardships to endure (a clear contrast to Éponine) I can understand why people often don't like her - or at least find it hard to sympathise with her. Especially since she's played by a different actress as a child and I think a lot of people don't connect her tragic childhood to the character that shows up in Paris.

Charlotte's still pretty new to the role (even though like Hollie she was also an understudy), so this is only first impressions for me. She looks the part and her singing is great (she hits the high notes quite easily, with no hint of 'screech'), but she just doesn't seem to be putting much 'acting' into her performance yet. Her movements feel like that of an actress trying to remember her place around the stage and not, say, a girl finding her way around a garden.

Her interactions with Valjean (both with Simon Gleeson and Adam Bayjou) seem rather distant, and I just didn't get a strong sense of love between them. During Valjean's death, Charlotte sort of just kneels in front of him without so much as a hand on his knee, and there's a sort of disconnect between action and words. Her delivery of 'it's too soon, too soon to say goodbye' sounds incredibly sad, but her body language just seemed way too casual.

One of the lines that can really be 'character making' for me is "I'm no longer a child and I yearn for the truth that you know''; if she sounds like she's throwing a tantrum then it just sours her for me. Charlotte does deliver it with a bit of petulance at the start, but then her tone changes quickly and becomes more like longing, and the next line 'of the years, years ago' just sounds so sad. I have to say she wins me over on this one.

[Side note: My favourite stage Cosette has been Zoe Doano (predecessor to Charlotte); she really plays up the sweetness of the character and while her body language is a bit odd at times (clutching her midsection at every other line), she really conveys 'giddy first love' well. In one show I went to, she runs after Marius when he runs back to the fence ("I'm doing everything all wrong!") but when he turns around, she spins and runs away from him with the expression of a girl who was just caught staring at her crush :shock: . Later when Valjean was dying she clings on to him for dear life, and it's genuinely heartbreaking.]

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Re: London Cast 2017

Postby 23623 » Tue Jan 10, 2017 3:45 am

deHavilland wrote:Well, I would argue that since it's an operetta, she sings beautifully because it's more enjoyable for the audience. The singing is all figurative action anyway, these characters don't spend their lives actively singing at one another. As much as I still like to see a little grit from a Fantine, I would hate a performance where she just talk-weeps her way through I Dreamed a Dream.

Please don't judge me, but I really, really want to see IDAD done in this way. :oops: It's probably because I've never been able to shake off the influence of Anne Hathaway...but seriously I'd love to see this. :oops:
Beautiful singing is certainly enjoyable. The thing is...I do love those who sing so incredibly well, but I love them just as actresses, not as Fantine. It's like...I love Ruthie's voice so much that I could listen to her IDAD all day out of context, though I never like her in the role of Fantine.

@Olivia: I totally agree with you about Cosette. She's hardly likeable in the musical, especially for those who haven't read the novel. Honestly I didn't care much about her until I read the brick. Now I'm probably one of the very few people who prefer musical-Cosette to musical-Eponine. Cosette's lines in "In My Life" are very interesting. They bring more depth to her character. You can actually see that she's growing up. And btw this song is so underrated in general. :( My favorite line in In My Life is "but papa, dear papa, in your eyes I'm just like a child who's lost in the wood". I love Cosette being a bit petulant here. It's just so cute. :D
Last edited by 23623 on Wed Jan 11, 2017 4:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: London Cast 2017

Postby Olivia_y » Tue Jan 10, 2017 10:54 am

Hmm, I'm not sure if the talk-weep delivery would work on stage, partly because it'd be very hard to project while doing that, after all they won't have the camera shoved right up in their face. I really like Samantha's soft delivery of OMO in the movie, but I don't think it'd translate well in a theatre.

On a random note: apparently Hayden Tee managed to split his trousers on his first performance! Poor guy.

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Re: London Cast 2017

Postby Olivia_y » Wed Jan 11, 2017 3:52 am

I remembered that I'd already done reviews on Tumblr of the three actors playing Enjolras, so this is mostly just copied from there:

Chris Cowley (principal)
I have mixed feelings about Chris Cowley. Physically, he’s tall and slender, with piercing blue eyes and possibly the best cheekbones in the West End; but he also has wild hair (that gets more out of control as the show goes on) that I find a bit jarring for the character.

Vocally, he definitely has the range for Enjolras, and delivers effortlessly most of the time. But on some lines (e.g. ‘they will come when we call!’) he does this odd thing where it sounds like he’s swallowing his voice…if that makes any sense…like he hits the notes but the lyrics become almost unintelligible.

In terms of acting, he plays Enjolras very very intense - during the ‘who cares about your lonely soul’ scene, he is literally trembling - to the point where passion starts to spill over into mania. This does, however, bring out the sharp contrast of his more gentle moments (e.g. in ‘drink with me’). In general, I enjoyed his portrayal - even if certain traits take a little getting used to. It’s an evolving process after all.

Jonny Purchase (1st cover)
I’d seen him as Marius (covering for Rob Houchen) three years ago, and thought he was great, but Enjolras is a very different role. He isn’t nearly as intense as Chris - there are some moments he looked positively zen - but there are moments when his emotions seem to spike and suddenly it’s ‘WHO CARES about your lonely soul?” :shock: (he also managed to kick over a chair in the same scene), so it can be slightly jolting.

I think I like Jonny’s voice more - he certainly delivers ‘let others rise’ better than Chris did - but I can’t say the same for appearances. While Jonny is good looking, he’s not as tall, he has a slighter build, and is in general not strikingly attractive the way Chris is. He doesn’t draw attention, and unless it’s a scene that specifically focuses on Enjolras he gets lost in the crowd a little. Given the choice, I’d prefer him as Marius - I certainly liked him better than Paul Wilkins or Craig Mather.

Seffan Harri (2nd cover)
This was right after the new year, and a lot of the ensemble were out. (It was the first time I’ve experienced the show with a ‘limited’ cast). Like Jonny, they put a ponytail on him…I don’t know why, it looked odd. (He also covered Bamatabois on the same night, apparently the first to do both rows in the same show since...David Thaxton.)

His portrayal was quite different from the ones by Chris or Jonny. In short, I feel like he played Enjolras like he plays Combeferre - much warmer and more ‘familiar’ with the other students (a lot of hugging, shoulder-clapping and hand-grasping). HIs singing was pretty good, the final line (‘...until the earth is free’) was fantastic, but I can’t honestly say I got the right vibe from him as Enjolras.

Here's a comparison audio with the three of them: http://olivia-y113.tumblr.com/post/155432756594/
Overall: Chris has the right 'feel', but Jonny and Steffan have superior vocals. I think I'd be equally happy whoever is on.

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Re: London Cast 2017

Postby Acaila » Wed Jan 11, 2017 11:53 pm

While I have long wanted to see him as Marius, the thought of Jonnyjolras kicking over a chair is something I need to see!
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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: London Cast 2017

Postby Olivia_y » Thu Jan 12, 2017 11:47 am

Acaila wrote:While I have long wanted to see him as Marius, the thought of Jonnyjolras kicking over a chair is something I need to see!

Get thee to London!
(Going by the WestEndCovers twitter he was on for like every other performance over the Christmas period.)

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Re: London Cast 2017

Postby Acaila » Thu Jan 12, 2017 10:41 pm

I will no doubt be down sometime in the next six months, though it may be that it's just after cast change going by discussions with others :( I hope JonnyBonBon stays on though
Revolution: like Christmas come early only with more death
Abaisse Chief/Chef
"Les Amis Fun Package - The Awesome Traits of Each"
"She's basically Enjolras meets Amy Pond"
Sings Stars "way better than Russel Crowe"


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