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?”
(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.