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Les Miserables

Sacramento Community Theatre

Sacramento, CA

June 12, 2002

 

I am so glad I got the opportunity to see Les Misérables from a very good seat! How I can justify paying $80 – and also the fact that I just saw a performance in this same run two weeks ago, I'm not quite sure. Maybe through the money my parents gave me for my birthday? That might work …

 

In any case, it's such a different experience when you can actually see the performer's faces! In the previous three times that I saw Les Mis, it was always from the cheaper seats. Usually way in the back of the theatre where you'd need binoculars if you had any hope of seeing facial expressions. But this time, we secured tickets for Row B in the Mezzanine, $80 just like all of the orchestra section. And in my opinion, our seats were much better than most of the orchestra seats. There were times when I felt like the performers were singing directly at us! (Probably not, but they were looking up towards our direction.)

 

This was the last week of the San Francisco run, and it was rather special because this 3rd National Tour underwent significant cast changes in the past week or so, taking people out and replacing them with Broadway or London performers so that they could "warm up" for their run in China. In fact, yesterday and Monday, Colm Wilkinson was back to play Valjean, and I heard it was an experience to witness. Too bad we missed him by one day. =(

 

But anyway, our cast looked like this (question marks on ones I'm not entire sure of):

 

Jean Valjean                  - Randal Keith

Javert                            - Michael McCarthy (London)

Fantine                         - Carmen Cusack (London)

Young Cosette               - Kassandra Marie Hazard

Young Eponine              - Skylar Harden

Thénardier                     - J.P. Dougherty

Mme. Thénardier            - Aymee Garcia

Gavroche                       - Tanner Richie (?)

Eponine                        - Ma-Anne Dionisio

Enjolras                        - Christopher Mark Peterson (?)

Marius                          - Peter Lockyer (Broadway)

Cosette                         - Sandra Turley (Broadway)

 

I'm just reading now that the flu was going around the cast a couple weeks ago, which was around the time we saw it the first time – and perhaps that might have affected their performances then. But I can only really think of this applying to Ma-Anne Dionisio.

 

Randal Keith: Wow … his performance of Valjean was probably better this time – either that or it was that much of a significant difference sitting up closer and seeing his face when he sings, or both! But I was amazed at the depth he brought to the role, and I still say that – musically -- his is probably the best Valjean I've heard. "Bring Him Home" was so elegant when it supposed to be, and desperate when he was pleading. I don't think I heard his voice falter once during that song, and probably not at all the entire evening. And another difference I noticed this time from last time was that in "Valjean's Confession." I don't think I remember Valjean looking and sounding so desperate and pleading when he says, "Promise me, M'sieur, Cosette will never know …"

 

Michael McCarthy: I have to admit, I didn't exactly love his portrayal in the first act. It was much better in the second act, but it seemed like he glided over parts that I think needed pause or emphasis. Plus, his enunciation wasn't as clear as I am used to it being, so especially in "The Confrontation" I felt like his voice was just blending with Keith's. But it was much clearer in the second act, particularly during his "Soliloquy," I really got a sense of how distraught he was to have failed in getting the better of Jean Valjean.

 

Carmen Cusack: One major difference I noticed about her portrayal of Fantine was that she sang "I Dreamed a Dream" from a kneeling position for most of the song. (At least, I don't think I remember it from before.) The beginning of "I Dreamed a Dream" was sung with much less strength than I think I am used to, so at first, I thought she was not as strong of a singer than, say, Jayne Paterson. But in the second half of the song, she really belted out those long notes (and not in a bad way!). She also did a little bit of different staging from Paterson in "Fantine's Arrest": she was pleading more directly to Javert when she sang "I never did no wrong … my daughter's close to dying …" (which I saw in previous performances) whereas Paterson was a little vaguer in who she was talking to. She also didn't run from person to person after "At the End of the Day" begging for help like Peterson did; she just stood there, dejected until she started undoing her work clothes in "I Dreamed a Dream." One thing, though, I have to say about Cusack is that she doesn't seem to have as low of a range to sing the low notes in "I Dreamed a Dream" and in the "Finale" without coming off the note.

 

J.P Dougherty & Aymee Garcia: Maybe it's just me, but it seemed like they were a lot more energetic this time in playing the Thénardiers. The staging was just about the same, but there was definitely more spark in their voices than two weeks ago. "Master of the House," "Dog Eats Dog," and "Beggars at the Feast" just seemed to be a lot livelier in just the vocal aspect, Dougherty did a little more dancing in "Beggars at the Feast." Another difference was at the end of "Master of the House" where she sings, "Cunning little brain, regular Voltaire, thinks he's quite a lover –" and now she mouths almost silently, "but there's not much there." Reminiscent of Mme. Thénardier in the 10th Anniversary Concert.

 

Tanner Richie: If I read the playbill correctly, then he was Gavroche again tonight. If that's so, then there was a great improvement to his performance compared to two weeks ago. He seemed to be a lot more spunky, breaking up his lines in just the right places to give some effect. Could still be better, but definitely better than the wimpy, almost flowing Gavroche he portrayed before.

 

Ma-Anne Dionisio: Another "wow" here. Much improved performance of Eponine tonight. I don't know if it's because Marius is being played by a different actor, or perhaps because she was getting over the flu, or what, but she was a much more assertive Eponine this time. Her voice was a lot more solid, yet more emotion-filled at the same time. I didn't feel as if she was as wimpy as I thought she was two weeks ago. There was a lot more anger and self-pity in "On My Own" and, even in the little scenes with Marius, I felt more personality and Eponine's own brand of stubbornness in her singing.

 

Christopher Mark Peterson: I think he was Enjolras two weeks ago also, but for some reason, I kept thinking this time it was someone different. But according to those white slips they stick in the playbill to indicate cast changes, there was no change to Enjolras either time. I'm not sure what it was that made me think he was different – but it was something in the way he sang "Red and Black" that wasn't as familiar as it should have been if it was the same actor.

 

Peter Lockyer: He was a Broadway import for the China cast. Overall, he's not a bad Marius, but I knew he was also a Miss Saigon alumus (for Chris) and I kept thinking at certain times when he was singing the higher notes that he makes a better Chris than Marius. I think it's the airy quality that sometimes comes out of his higher notes. "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" was excellent, though I felt that he was being more angry than grieving when he sang to ask his dead friends for forgiveness.

 

Sandra Turley: Another Broadway import. I don't know … I guess the style nowadays is for sopranos to be very operatic and to overdo the vibrato, because that's how I would describe Turley's Cosette. She hit most of her notes okay, except for that one at the end of "Every Day," and I think she was actually crying (we could hear sobs coming from the speakers, so it had to be her) when Valjean gave her his confession letter.

 

Cuts/changes/remarks compared to the CSR, which is the performance I am used to. Thus, the Broadway 10th Anniversary changes may be included. And this is only to the best of my recollection -- my memory has suffered from school-induced sleep deprivation, so gentle corrections are more than welcome.

 

-          "Prologue":

o        After being told to go by the farmer, Valjean goes to "And now I know how freedom feels, the jailor always at your heels …" cutting out the part about the inn.

o        When the Bishop invites him in, he startles the nun (umm, is that what she is??) when he grabs the plate of bread from her (I don't remember that from last time).

o        This time the Bishop was played by Seth Bowling (who is the regular for this role) … I just noticed that the Bishop was played rather differently last time, since he was substituted by Dave Hugo – who in my opinion was a better Bishop in terms of voice quality. Hugo seemed to act more like an old Bishop.

-          "At the End of the Day:"

o        The Foreman, who is usually Graham Rowat, was substituted by Matt Clemens.

o        The Factory Girl (who picks on Fantine), who is usually played by Linda Pierson Huff, was substituted by Shahara Ray (I don't know/remember how she compares to Huff, but she was pretty self-righteous).

-          "I Dreamed a Dream": Beginning at "He slept a summer by my side …", while still kneeling, Cusack grabbed the locket around her neck and leaned somewhat awkwardly on her right arm. Maybe it was just the angle from where I was sitting, but it didn't look natural. Good effect standing up though, at "And still I dream he'll come to me …"

-          "Lovely Ladies":

o        Of course, there's the well known lyric change here (just after Fantine sells her hair), I believe from the Broadway 10th Anniversary (courtesy of a post at www.rueplumet.com/lesmis/board):

Sick woman:

"God, I'm weary

Sick enough to drop

Belly burns like fire

Won't the bleeding ever stop?"

 

Pimp (I think?):

"Cheer up, dearie

Show a happy face

Plenty more like you here

If you can't keep up the pace

 

Only joking

Dearie knows her place"

o        Cusack seemed to portray Fantine getting worse physically a lot faster than I remember Peterson did.

-          "Fantine's Arrest":

o        The physical struggle between Fantine and Bamatabois (Trent Blanton, but was substituted by Matt Clemens two weeks ago) was enough to knock his hat off his head.

o        McCarthy sang "I have heard such protestations ever day for twenty years … etc." much more flowing/inarticulated than I'm used to.

o        The microphone must have cut out last time at the end when someone says, "Look out, it's a runaway cart!" because I noticed I heard it this time.

-          "The Runaway Cart":

o        First verse of voices is now gone. It skips to Valjean asking, "Is there anyone here who will rescue the man? Who will help to shoulder the weight of the cart?" then skips to his saving M. Fauchelevent.

-          "Who am I?":

o        Last time, I remember, at the end of the song, Valjean telling Javert the address where he could be found, but not this time.

-          "Come to Me":

o        As noted before, cutting out of the second verse.

o        Don't know if this is different from before, but Fantine dies with her still embracing Valjean, and after he lays her back on the bed, puts his hand over her eyes to close them.

-          "The Confrontation":

o        In the part where Javert sings in counterpoint with Valjean, McCarthy took this strange fighting stance, which he maintained while he chased Keith back and forth around Fantine's bed.

-          "Castle on a Cloud":

o        As noted before, there is a very short instrumental introduction and Young Cosette begins singing while she is sweeping. Then moves to take down the chairs in the second verse. In the third verse, she kneels on the floor for the rest of song until Mme. Thénardier comes out, just before she finishes and startles her. After she starts yelling, Cosette quickly goes to clean the tables until Mme. Thénardier demands water.

-          "Master of the House":

o        As noted before, "Mine host Thénardier, he was there so they say at the field of Waterloo … etc." was cut, and resumes with Thénardier singing, "My band of soaks, my den of dissolutes … etc." then skips to the main part of the song.

-          "The Bargain":

o        I believe this was added in the Broadway 10th Anniversary: We see Cosette struggling to carry the barrel of water when she is startled by Valjean. He comforts her, and asks for her name, to which she replies, "I'm called Cosette."

-          "Waltz of Treachery":

o        Hilarious when Thénardier makes the error, "How can we speak of debt? Let's not haggle for darling Colette –" "Cosette!" says Mme. Thénardier.

o        After Valjean gives his final offer of 1500 francs (?), the Thénardiers are so transfixed on the pile of money that they barely give a wave to Cosette when Valjean says, "Thank you both for Cosette."

-          "The Robbery":

o        This might have been changed last time too, but I don't remember – Cosette is carrying a gray blanket when she runs into Marius, and drops it. I seem to remember her carrying a basket. This blanket she gives to one of the poor people on the street.

-          "Stars":

o        After Javert's solo, when Gavroche sings, he left out "Don't you worry, auntie dear."

-          "Red and Black":

o        It seems like something was cut after the chorus of the song, just before Gavroche comes in to deliver the news about Lamarck, but I can't pinpoint what's gone.

-          "In My Life":

o        After Valjean enters the yard, Cosette's plead for information about their past is cut short: "There's so little you say of the life you have know, why you keep to yourself, why we're always alone. So dark, so dark and deep. The secrets that you keep …" – then it jumps to – "In my life, I'm no longer a child and I yearn for the truth that you know, of the years, years ago."

-          "The Attack on Rue Plumet":

o        There is no more exchange between Eponine and Montparnasse, where she finds out about their plan to rob Valjean's house. Instead, it skips to Thénardier saying, "This is his lair, I've seen the old fox around …" It goes until Eponine says, "I'm gonna scream, I'm gonna warn them here!" and then she screams.

-          "A Little Fall of Rain":

o        After Eponine dies, Lockyer looked at Peterson the whole time before she was carried away, at which time he gave her one last tight embrace. If I remember correctly, Matthew Teague Miller only looked up at Peterson for a short time before embracing Dionisio again.

-          "Dog Eats Dog":

o        Cut second refrain, such that Thénardier sings, "Here's another toy, take it off the boy. His heart's not longer going, and he's lived his little time, but his watch is ticking yet!" then goes to, "It's a world where the dog eats the dog … etc."

-          "Turning" was cut from both the first verse and the second verse. It goes, "Did you see them going off to fight? Children of the barricades who didn't last the night?" then to "They were school boys, never held a gun … etc."

-          "Every Day"

o        Valjean begins his part in counterpoint a verse earlier, and Cosette and Marius' exchange goes more like:

Cosette:

"A heart full of love

No fear, no regret"

Marius:

"Cosette, Cosette"

Cosette:

"I saw you waiting and I knew"

Marius:

"Waiting for you"

Etc.

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