Friday, April 8, 2016

Les Misérables (the live version)

"Watch 'em run amuck, catch them as they fall, never know your luck when there's a free-for-all..." (Madame and Monsieur Thernardier)

Finally, I had the opportunity to watch, live and in theatre, one of the musicals that added brilliance to Lea Salonga's already bright international star. Nelzo has seen Les Misérables in London; when the Australian production landed in the Philippines, Rizza, Man, Annette, and I grabbed the first chance our schedules aligned to watch Les Misérables at The Theatre in Solaire Resort and Casino. We were able to get tickets for the gala show on a weekday... and just our luck, Rachelle Ann Go, the Filipina actress who played Fantine in the 30th anniversary London staging of the musicale, was Fantine in the Manila show! We were so excited!!

As our fellow audiences were filing into the theatre, we learned quite rapidly that watching the live version means dealing with lots of distractions... also known as celebrities watching the show being seated in the same section as us. Annette mastered this skill: she never saw the celebrities as they passed her! We had to nudge her so she'd know!

The houselights dimmed; the stage lights lit up and we saw Jean Valjean as one of the prisoners rowing the boat while supervised by Javert. And the rest, as they say, is (Les Misérables) history...

Go did a superb job as Fantine although it really was difficult to stop comparing her to Anne Hathaway and to Lea Salonga. For some reason, I found her scene of a dying Fantine to be quite weak; if I were to speculate, maybe this is because she was singing in bed and I could barely see her from where I was sitting. And her voice wasn't as powerful compared to Salonga if she were performing Fantine. Hathaway's Fantine had the camera at her face almost the whole time so there was nothing else to see but her surrounded by white bedsheets in the hospital. Rizza's explanation was that Go was sick for a few days. 

The rest of the cast were superb. My favourite characters were the Thénardiers, because with the exception of Éponine, they somehow provided comic relief. I thought it curious, however, that the other characters would be inspired to continue and to justify their rebellion against France based on the death of the Thénardier boy, Gavroche. Éponine's death was just as tragic but Gavroche's death signaled the death of innocence and of youth (even though he wasn't really innocent, was he? He's a street urchin! He's supposed to be street smart!) I found it strange that their parents were not seen grieving their deaths; well, that's the Mr and the Mrs Thénardier for us.

A scene we found funny: Éponine brought Marius to the gate of Valjean's house because he wanted to see Cosette. They sang near the gate but where there was open space between them and Cosette's balcony. When Marius wanted to see her, he walked around to the gate and climbed over it; he could have easily just walked over through the space! Haha! Yeah, but that's theatre for us.

Anyway, the musical ended strong. I thought that it was a good play to see at this time of the year, barely a month before the national elections. I'm already looking forward to the next play my barkada will watch.