Hi everyone. This is "Annie West's" Dad with another guest post from Annie, now 12, who previously graced these pixels with Books I've been reading, Humans, Good or Bad? Part I and The Hunger Games: The Next Harry Potter. (I'll add that the date of the last post was January 2011. Hunger is not yet Harry, but there are still at least two movies and two paperback releases to go!)
In any case, Annie has been through a few (healthy) obsessions in the last couple of years -- Harry, Hunger, Cats the Musical, Phantom and now, Les Misérables. In the last few months, she has read the abridged edition of the book, is on p. 828 of the original edition, watched the DVD of the 25th Anniversary concert and listened to the original cast recording, made an Eponine costume, learned songs from the musical on the violin and spoken about Les Mis with anyone who would listen.
Oh -- and she cannot wait for the movie, opening on Christmas Day, with Hugh Jackman (Valjean), Russell Crowe (Javert) and Anne Hathaway (Fantine). The release of a new trailer is an occasion for wild celebration.
She was a bit under the weather the last few days and took the time to write the following comparison of the Original London Cast Recording and the 25th Anniversary Concert. She asked me to share it with you here.
So, here it is, over the curved barricade:
Les Misérables: A Musical Comparison
(I am aware that I am not the nicest to Nick Jonas)
Look Down - Prisoner’s Chorus
I like the London Cast Recording better because they put more expression into the song, changing the melody a bit, while the 25th cast just goes along with the melody.
For me, the 25 cast was better. The Bishop is just amazing it. Also at the beginning, there’s a little section that’s not in the recorded version that sounds really nice when sung by Alfie Boe (Jean Valjean).
What Have I Done
It’s sort of a tie for me on that one. They both have their faults, and both have parts that I love. I’m just going to say that I liked that part in the book better than the song.
I Dreamed A Dream
Again, it’s a tie, so I’m going to say my sister’s version. Even though she can't really relate to what Fantine is going through when she sings the song, my sister still manages to put plenty of emotion into the song and her voice is clear and pure.
In my opinion the 25th Anniversary Cast is much, much better. Even though I love Fantine in the London Recording, the 25th has much more energy and has a few added parts. There are a couple of stick parts in the recording that either sound better in the recording that either sounded better in the 25th or they just skipped over. The London recording also sounded slightly robotic.
Seeing as “Fantine’s Arrest” isn’t in the London Recording, I’m going with the 25th Anniversary.
Who Am I
It’ll be a tie for me. The last note is my favorite, and they both do it excellently.
Since it’s a tie, I’m going to throw in another option - A Hungary production of Les Misérables, Valjean sung by Vikidal Gyula. Again, I chose it because of the last note.
Come To Me + The Confrontation
The London Recording is my choice for those, though I’m not sure why.
Castle On A Cloud
I like the 25th Anniversary better because it has the Thenardiers in it, while she is MIA in the London Recording.
Master of the House
Again, I like the 25th Anniversary better. Matt Lucas (Thenardier) seems to be having so much fun playing his part. What’s not fun about singing about cheating money off of people and dancing around and acting drunk?!
The Waltz of Treachery
25th Anniversary, definately. The Thenardiers are sort of the comic relief of Les Misérables and it’s not shown so much in the London Recording. Some things you can’t do in a recording (like Thenardier not knowing how to do the Cross), but they could have at least included the “Colette-Cosette” bit in the London Recording.
The London Recording in my opinion is better. While Norm Lewis is a great Javert, I just like this version better.
This isn’t on the London Recording, but in the 25th, Gavroche has a really nice part that really sums up his character.
If Nick Jonas wasn’t in the 25th Anniversary, Look Down would have been perfect. Robert Madge is an amazingly cheeky Gavroche and an amazing singer with a wide spread of options ahead of him. he definitely has the best parts in the whole musical. He has this great part explaining everything and then he leave and Nick Jonas (Marius Pontmercy) and Ramin Karimloo (Enjolras - pronounced “Ahn - jol - ras). The whole song is slightly slowed down by Mr. Jonas, but Mr. Karimloo manages to get it back on track with Gavroche finishing spectacularly.
This isn’t included in the London Recording, but as usual Matt Lucas does Thenardier very well.
They seem to have forgotten all about “Little People” in the 25th Anniversary (and before it. I’m not sure when they stopped doing it), which makes me very sad, as Gavroche is one of my favorite characters! They also skipped his death, though that’s more of an acting part than a song.
Red and Black
Even though Red and Black is a very serious song, there’s also a sort of humor behind it. Sometimes it can be seen as an argument between Enjolras and Marius, other times a sort of battle plan. Yet again, the song is slightly marred by NIck Jonas. I would choose the 25th Anniversary as my favorite because this song is better when you can see what the performers are doing are doing and Grantaire pronounces “Don Juan” correctly.
Do You Hear The People Sing
I really love the 25th Anniversary because it has this bit that the London Recording doesn’t have at the beginning that really shows that Enjolras is the leader of the revolution. Also, Marius is just standing there, so Enjolras can have his well deserved spotlight.
Love Montage (I Saw Him Once, In My Life, and A Heart Full Of Love)
Although Samantha Barks is probably the greatest Eponine I”ve ever seen, I’m going to have to say the london Recording for this song. The 25th Anniversary wasn’t Samantha Bark’s best performance, even though she did very well, and Nick Jonas is just crushing the song for both Samantha and Katie Hall (Cosette).
A tie. Samantha Barks, as I said before, is the best Eponine I’ve ever heard, but they did miss a few parts that I really like in the 25th that the London Recording has. Since I can’t decide, I’ll go with the part in the book again, even though it’s very, very different.
On My Own
Samantha Barks manages to produce a mind blowing performance (though I think she could do even better) of Eponine, earning her the reward of playing Eponine in the upcoming Les Misérables movie. That being said, the 25th Anniversary would be my pick for this song.
Even though the fabulous Ramin Karimloo is in “The Attack”, I just prefer the London Recording. It has more energy.
A Little Fall of Rain
London Recording - definitely. Samantha Barks, as usual is spectacular, but Nick Jonas just can’t keep up with her!
Drink With Me
The 25th Anniversary without a question. “Drink With Me” is sort of Grantaire’s song because he’s drunk most of the time and it is said that he doesn’t believe in the revolution. His solo in “Drink With Me” describes him perfectly, yet the London Recording left him out. In the book, it also say that there is one thing that he loves - Enjolras - and they show that in the 25 very well.
Bring Him Home
Alfie Boe is excellent, but his voice is a little too operatic for me. He still manages to pull of this song well, but his voice doesn’t seem quite suited for it. Therefore - London Recording.
Back to Norm Lewis. In most of the other songs he sings (Stars, Look Down - Prisoner’s Chorus, The Confrontation) he stops abruptly at some points, but in this song he goes through it smoothly. Also, in the london Recording Roger Allam (Javert) just holds the note, but Norm Lewis turns it into a scream/yell/cry. The music itself is also a bit different in the 25th and I think I prefer it to the London Recording of this song.
Still on the topic of the music of Les Misérables, the London Recording suddenly switches to a sort of melancholy happiness, while in the 25th Anniversary it stays similar to the rest of the song, which I like much better, as the music can easily change the mood of the song.
Empty Chairs At Empty Tables
Definitely, most definitely, most, most definitely the London Recording. You can obviously see Nick Jonas struggling with the low notes and the higher notes. Sometimes his voices breaks a little on the long notes. He is a good singing, but this song was way too much for him. The whole role was way too much for him.
Dog Eats Dog
While Matt Lucas is (much) better suited to play Thenardier than Nick Jonas is to play Marius, this song also may have been a little too hard for him, especially the last note, hence, the London Recording.
However, in both version of the song the music changes so that same oxymoron-ish happiness is back, making the lyrics very ironic.
Wedding Chorus/Beggar at the Feast
Both of them sound exactly the same to me, except for a few very subtle differences. A tie.
I just love the finale in both versions, even though the harmony’s kind of hard to hear between Fantine and Eponine (which is one of my favorite parts) in the 25th Anniversary. The emotions in every one of them (even Nick Jonas!) in the 25th Anniversary kind of makes up for it though. I’ll be calling it a tie.