Posts Tagged ‘Grantaire’

Les Misérables: The Day of The Understudies!

Once again, my friend Scolytinae brings us a review of the West End production of Les Misérables, after her excellent piece on the version with Alfie Boe as Valjean last autumn.  She and her husband braved the bad winter weather to see Ramin Karimloo in the role, only to be met with a few surprises:

Let’s be honest, you don’t actually need an excuse for a repeat visit to Les Misérables, but I must admit that the prospect of seeing Ramin Karimloo as Jean Valjean persuaded us to make a return trip only 4 short months after our last excursion.  So you can imagine our disappointment when on arrival at Queen’s Theatre, we were greeted with notices in the foyer stating that due to the indisposition of Ramin Karimloo, the role of Jean Valjean would be played by Christopher Jacobsen.

Settled in our seats, we philosophically decided that “these things happen.” As a Twitter user I knew that Ramin’s recent Japanese tour had taken a lot out of him and that he was struggling, but then came an announcement that the roles of Marius and Enjolras would also be played by understudies.  We looked at each other—this would definitely be a different show to the one we had seen last September!

However, I would now like to go on record to say that this was one of the finest performances I have ever seen.  Christopher Jacobsen was simply stunning.  A powerful actor as well as singer, he brought us a Valjean of contrasts—burning passion at the injustices he suffered, yet a quiet dignity as he determined to throw off his past, start again, and make things right.  Opposite the magnificent Hadley Fraser as Javert, it felt like a whole new dynamic had appeared as the two of them faced off against each other, on occasion speaking rather than singing some of their lines as they circled each other, vying for control of the situation.

I thought Hadley was fabulous when I saw him last year, but over the ensuing months, his Javert has evolved—still intractable and inexorably driven, but now almost a sense of vulnerability.  Valjean’s manner and treatment of him was just so far outside his view of the natural order that he simply could not cope.  There was a particularly poignant moment during the suicide scene where he sings “I am the law and the law is not mocked.” At this point, he valiantly tries to regain his control and composure by pulling his lapels together and buttoning up that iconic overcoat—magic.  Thunderous applause greeted both his featured songs, and rightly so. This man is a true performer.

Marius was played by the impossibly cute Fra Fee—and what a fabulous performance it was.  Such depth and emotion from one so young; I am not ashamed to admit to a few tears after “A Little Fall of Rain,” beautifully portrayed opposite the superb Alexia Khadime.  I’m sure my hubby won’t mind me saying that he reached for the tissues too at this point!  What a beautiful voice this young man has, and such presence on stage.  I sincerely hope he’s a name to watch out for in the future.

Enjolras was beautifully played by Scott Garnham, who led his students with an understated strength and authority.  I just loved the interaction between all the students, and Adam Linstead’s Grantaire was a triumph.  In fact, I was so impressed by everyone who stepped up to fill roles vacated by the leads.  If I have to be critical, and maybe I should to prove that I can be objective where Les Mis is concerned, the only weak spot was the youngster who played Gavroche. Whether it was down to nerves, I don’t know, but he had a rather shaky start, rushing some of his lines and throwing some away completely.  He did soon settle down, and there was a huge gasp from the audience during the scene where he was shot whilst collecting ammunition.  You know, I must be getting old, because both he and the young girl playing Cosette seemed so small and fragile, almost like they should be at home tucked up in bed rather than up onstage!!

If there were any negative vibes emanating from people who bought tickets expecting to see Ramin Karimloo, then Christopher Jacobsen certainly wasn’t affected by them.  It must be a daunting feeling to step onstage knowing that many people in the audience wish you weren’t there.  Christopher simply took the audience by storm, and seemed genuinely overwhelmed by his rapturous reception at the end.  So much so that, after taking center stage for a few seconds, he called the cast back onstage to join him for another bow, to happily acknowledge the lengthy standing ovation which was a fitting end to a truly incredible show.  A day of understudies it may have been, but it is a tribute to the depth of talent in British musical theatre that this didn’t matter one iota—we heard the people sing, and they were fantastic!

Thank you, Scolytinae!  It sounds like a great afternoon of theatre.  It looks like we’ll have to add Christopher Jacobsen, Fra Fee, and Scott Garnham to our growing list of favorite West End actors.

See also: Beg, Borrow or Steal to See Les Misérables

Enjolras & Grantaire

Once again, here’s more from the Les Misérables 25th anniversary concert.  I love the relationship between these two characters.  Ramin Karimloo and Hadley Fraser are good friends offstage, and it shows.  These are from their interaction during the song Drink With Me.   

 This video on YouTube, shot by an audience member, shows that there was more tension between them during this exchange, in moments not shown in the official DVD edit (or in my screencaps).  From this video’s angle, you can see their initial camaraderie,  then Karimloo’s expression and body language shift from amusement to disapproval. 

Enjolras (Ramin Karimloo) & Grantaire (Hadley Fraser), Les Miserables

Can it be you fear to die? Will the world remember you when you fall? Can it be your death means nothing at all?

 Enjolras (Ramin Karimloo) & Grantaire (Hadley Fraser), Les Miserables

Enjolras (Ramin Karimloo) & Grantaire (Hadley Fraser), Les Miserables

Enjolras & Grantaire (Hadley Fraser)

Enjolras & Grantaire (Ramin Karimloo & Hadley Fraser)

Enjolras & Grantaire (Ramin Karimloo & Hadley Fraser)   Enjolras & Grantaire (Ramin Karimloo & Hadley Fraser)

Related Posts:   My Les Mis   Please Sir, I Want Some More   Gavroche   To The Barricade!   Grantaire   Thénardier Waltz   Ramin Karimloo   Gavroche: Liar!    Bring Him Home   Enjolras   Les Mis: The Originals   24601   Fantine   Cosette & Madame Thénardier

Grantaire

Hadley Fraser as Grantaire in the Les Misérables 25th anniversary concert.   Love this guy. 

Hadley Fraser as Grantaire, Les Miserables 

Hadley Fraser as Grantaire, Les Miserables

Related Posts:   Gavroche   My Les Mis    Please Sir, I Want Some More    To The Barricade!   Ramin Karimloo      Enjolras & Grantaire   Thénardier Waltz    Gavroche: Liar!     Bring Him Home   Enjolras    Les Mis: The Originals  24601   Fantine   Cosette & Madame Thénardier   Happy Birthday, Hadley Fraser

Please Sir, I Want Some More

I’m sitting here this week asking myself, what’s the point of writing about the London entertainment scene from San Francisco?  It feels like I’m in exile here.  Still, a friend just made an excellent point.  She said, “Hell, it is your blog, so you should write about whatever you want.”  Taking that to heart, I’m going share my internet research with other fans of the Les Misérables 25th anniversary concert.  If you’re like me, the concert left you wanting to see more from these talented performers.

Ramin Karimloo (Enjolras) and Hadley Fraser (Grantaire):  These two fellows are kind of a package deal.  Friends offstage, they formed a band called Sheytoons last summer.  Sheytoons is a Farsi expression meaning “climb down from the Devil’s donkey.”  That seems like a lot of words to pack into two syllables, but it’s a great image.  You can watch Sheytoons videos on YouTube, or at www.raminkarimloo.com or www.hadleyfraser.com.  They don’t have a CD yet, but their sites promise that something is coming in the near future.  On Easter Sunday, April 24th, they are playing a gig at Dublin Castle in Camden, London.  I can’t attend, so I’m sending a friend in my place.  She will take photos, copious notes, and give us a full report.

Sheytoons logo

Ramin Karimloo is currently starring as The Phantom in Love Never Dies, the new sequel to The Phantom of the Opera.  His commitment is until September 3, 2011.  He just announced on twitter that he will also be playing The Phantom for The Phantom of the Opera 25th anniversary concert in October.  (These 25th Anniversary concerts just keep coming, don’t they?!)  That’s pretty impressive, because a lot of big names have done the role over the years.  Hopefully it will be filmed and released on DVD the same way the Les Mis concert was.  I rented the movie version of Phantom earlier this week, because Karimloo is listed in the credits as “Christine’s Father.”  I watched the 2½ hour movie looking for him, only to discover that his appearance was nothing more than a framed sepia photograph in one scene.  There’s a quick clip of him performing as Raoul in a documentary on the DVD bonus disc—it’s the scene with the noose.

Ramin Karimloo

Ramin Karimloo

Karimloo is really smart about using the internet and social networking sites.  He’s got his official website, a twitter account (with over 10,000 followers), a facebook fan page, and a YouTube channel separate from the Sheytoons one.  For some reason, his YouTube channel has no videos, but he has over 700 subscribers waiting for an upload.  There are plenty of YouTube videos to be found on other channels, featuring him singing, being interviewed and just acting silly.  Karimloo has a solo CD (Within the Six Square Inch) but, according to his website, it is “sold out.”  I don’t know if was self-produced or released through a record label, but apparently no more copies will be made available.  At amazon.co.uk, there is a WWII musical concept album called Bluebird featuring Karimloo, available as a CD or mp3 download.

By all accounts, Karimloo is personable, polite, and friendly to his many fans.  He signs autographs, poses for photos, and still says “ma’am.”  His messages on facebook and his video blogs convey a sense of humor and a sincere desire to make fans feel included and informed.

Ramin Karimloo and Hadley Fraser

Karimloo and Fraser, with a bottle.

Now, on to his friend.  Hadley Fraser will be taking over the role of Inspector Javert in the West End production of Les Misérables on June 23rd, appearing with Alfie Boe and Matt Lucas.  He has played Marius in the past, and he was Grantaire (the guy with the bottle) in the anniversary concert.   The role of Javert is a quite a change from romantic youth and drunken cynic, but I’m sure he’s up to the challenge.  He might even make the audience feel sad when Javert kills himself.

Hadley Fraser as Grantaire, with bottle once again, in the Les Miserables concert

Hadley Fraser as Grantaire, with bottle once again, in the Les Miserables concert

I really like Fraser’s website.  It doesn’t take things too seriously, and it’s got a tongue-in-cheek style that’s refreshing.  Many websites are so busy hard-selling that they forget to be fun.  This guy comes across as fun.  (Just watch this for proof!)   He’s also on twitter, and his tweets are entertaining, although he uses twitter often to communicate with friends and fellow performers.  This isn’t a bad thing, but some of his tweets don’t make much sense to the rest of us.  Fraser was in an episode of Dr Who (season 2, episode 12, “Army of Ghosts”) and a horror film called The Lost Tribe.  Both of these are available streaming on Netflix, but be sure to search for “Lost Tribe” because Netflix doesn’t bother to include the “The.”  Sadly, Fraser doesn’t survive to the end of this film, but happily, this means you don’t have to watch the whole thing.  (Sorry, I’m just not a horror fan.)  YouTube has a trailer for a film called Convincing Clooney with Fraser—and Wilson Cruz, who I’ve met.  (Ha!  One degree of separation!)  Last but not least, my new favorite song is Fraser singing “Again” from Keys:  The Music of Scott Alan.

Hadley Fraser in The Lost Tribe (notice a pattern?)

Hadley Fraser in The Lost Tribe (notice a pattern?)

Robert Madge (Gavroche):  Since I started blogging about Les Misérables a couple of weeks ago, there have been many internet searches for young Robert Madge reflected in my blog stats.  I can even tell when the concert has aired on TV again.  The Gavroche post has received the most comments I’ve ever had.   I assume this is because there’s not a lot on the internet about him yet.  He doesn’t have an official website, a facebook fan page, or even a wikipedia entry (which can change at any moment!).   This could be because his management and the press aren’t fully aware of the interest that the Les Mis concert has generated in this young performer.   It could be that he’s being protected from too much exposure at such a young age.   Hopefully, Madge will do more television and films, allowing international fans to see his work.  Until then, here is a playlist of clips on YouTube where he can be seen.   Some of them are “blink and you miss him” brief, but they include several TV appearances, clips from Oliver! and Les Mis, an audio clip from Mary Poppins, and an episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures.

Robert Madge as The Artful Dodger in Oliver!

Robert Madge as The Artful Dodger in Oliver!

Over at Netflix, Madge appears in episode 5, “Succubi,” of Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire, which is available streaming.   His scene is at the 13:15 mark, and he’s really great, but be warned.  The rest of the show is crude and raunchy.   Appearing in the scene with Madge is Matt Lucas, who played Thenardier in the Les Mis concert.  It’s interesting that the concert wasn’t their first time working together.  It’s also amusing how often Robert Madge has to work with a dirty face.

Robert Madge in Krod Mandoon

Robert Madge in Kröd Mändoon

After the Les Mis concert, Madge appeared in the RSC musical Matilda, based on the Roald Dahl book, but it is no longer playing in Stratford.  There’s a good chance that it will move to the West End, since the reviews and the audience reaction were excellent.  There hasn’t been any official word, and I don’t know if Madge is committed to a West End run.  I’m watching and waiting.

There were other great performers in the concert, like Matt Lucas and Lea Salonga.  I’ve been watching Little Britain and listening to Salonga as Eponine in the 10th anniversary concert.  There’s only so much time in the day, though, and this post has gone on long enough.

Update: Here’s our report on Sheytoon’s Dublin Castle showMatilda opened to successful reviews and ticket sales in the West End, but Robert Madge is not part of the cast.  Over on YouTube, his episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures (The Temptation of Sarah Jane) has been removed.  These things get re-posted often, so keep searching for it.

Related posts:  My Les Mis   Gavroche   To the Barricade!   Ramin Karimloo   Grantaire   Enjolras & Grantaire   Thénardier Waltz   Gavroche: Liar!   Bring Him Home   Enjolras   Les Mis: The Originals   24601   Fantine   Les Mis:  The Streets of Paris   Les Mis: The Big Opening   Farewell to Love Never Dies

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