Sunday, March 20, 2011

PBS is awesome

I sang the praises of PBS when I wrote about how much I love the BBC show "Sherlock" and I think it's just fantastic that PBS aired that show.  A couple of weeks ago, I watched the new 25th anniversary "concert" production of "Les Miserables".  It took my breath away!  Fabulous.  I think Alfie Boe outperformed the original Jean Valjean, Colm Wilkinson, and Lea Salonga was incredible as Fantine.  The actor who played Enjolras, Ramin Karimloo, was one of the best in the entire show, second only to Boe.  I was entranced by his performance-- in a word: amazing.
I have loved this show since I was a jr. in High School 21 years ago, and I know it by heart.
It isn't exactly unusual, but I was sobbing by the end of the production.  Even without staging and full production value, this concert had such heart, such emotion, amazing acting and phenominal singing.  The one and only weak link was the poor little Jonas brother, who was cast as Marius.  Why, I don't know.  It really isn't his fault-- he did do his best to perform well, and you could tell he realized that the rest of the cast was singing circles around him.  His acting was weak; as my brother said, he looked a bit constipated throughout.  He just seemed... uncomfortable.  But who would turn an opportunity like that down?

His performance reminded me of the time I saw the film version of "The Phantom of the Opera", when I was horrified, disgusted and offended by the terrible performance of Gerard Butler.  He isn't attractive, he wasn't seductive, and he sang off-pitch and without any professionalism.  His performance ruined the film for me.  I won't be watching it again.  Ever.  The only positive in the performance of the Jonas boy in "Les Mis" was that at least the Jonas kid could hit the notes.  Not always very strongly, and without the authenticity and passion that Marius should express, but at least he was ON PITCH (the same can't be said about Butler's Phantom).  His weak performance didn't mar the magnificent performances around him, it took a little getting used to, but it didn't destroy the show.

At the end of the show, members of former casts came onstage and sang encore performances of a few numbers, including Wilkinson singing "Bring Him Home".  It wasn't as good as Alfie's rendition at all.  I didn't need the excess, and I think it's just fluff.  Personally, I was emotionally and musically fulfilled by the show itself and didn't require any extra hoopla for the original cast.  The reunion was nice, but I didn't care much.

Follow the link to a good review of the show:

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