On the eve of the 30th anniversary of Les Miserables in London, let’s take a look at 26 highlights and facts from Alfie to Miz!
A is for Alfie Boe of course! Alfie played the role in the West End for six months, having first taken the role at the 25th anniversary concert, and is now Jean Valjean on Broadway
B is for bread. JVJ is jailed for stealing a loaf of bread but the onstage bread was once responsible for almost choking Dan Koek! Whilst pretending to eat the bishops’s bread, a crumb went up Koek’s nose and lodged at the back of his throat…and stayed there for the whole of the soliloquy!
C is for Carrie Hope Fletcher. London’s current Eponine, is the younger sister of McBusted’s Tom Fletcher…who appeared with Alfie at the Royal Festival Hall on the Bring Him Home tour
D is for Do You Hear the People Sing? We can and we can’t imagine ever stopping!
E is for Eponine, brilliant character – surely, I can’t be the only one rooting for her over Cosette in Marius’ affections?
F is for Frances Ruffelle, original Eponine, winner of a Tony award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical and mum of singer Eliza Doolittle
G is for Grantaire, a glorious character who spends most of his time onstage in an alcoholic glaze
H is for Hans Peter Janssen, the only Belgian actor to play JVJ in London
I is for I Dreamed a Dream, iconic song from Fantine, memorably performed by Lea Salonga at the 25th anniversary concert. Went into the entertainment stratosphere with Susan Boyle’s Britain’s Got Talent audition
J is for John Owen-Jones, the youngest Jean Valjean (he was 26). He most memorable Les Mis moment came in rehearsal with Claude-Michel Schonberg for the 25th anniversary tour. John says “I was rehearsing Bring Him Home with Claude-Michel in a room backstage at the Barbican. We were running through the song when he suddenly stopped playing the piano and looked slowly around the room with a quizzical look on his face. Then he looked at me and said in that wonderful French accent of his: “Wait…zis room…it is where I wrote zis song!”
K is for Karrie, Peter who played JVJ for three years from 1986. In a recent interview he told me that he worked with one Javert who made him corpse one day at the end of the cart scene: “he clicked his heels together and turned to walk off, his microphone was already off, and he said so only I could hear, if you don’t have that cart moved, I’ll have it clamped! I laughed so much I had to feign a coughing fit and run off stage quickly!
L is for Lea Salonga who played Eponine in the 10th anniversary concert and Fantine in the 25th anniversary
M is for Mackintosh, Cameron, the producer of Les Mis as well as many more musicals around the world
N is for Norm Lewis, picked as his favourite Javert by Alfie Boe in his Club 24601 interview with thoughtsofjustafan
O is for One Day More – best ending to a first act in musical theatre bar none (the combination of Michael Ball and Ramin Karimloo is superb here):
P is for Peter Lockyer, current London JVJ – first played JVJ whilst directing an amateur production in Hawaii
Q is for the Queen’s Theatre, home to the London production
R is for revolving stage, no longer in evidence in the Broadway show. Dave Willetts remembers several shows in the early days where the stage stopped revolving at awkward moments, notably at the end of the barricade scene when all the dead actors had to get up and walk off stage in the full glare of the lights!
S is for the Soliloquy, favourite song of several of the Club 24601 JVJ’s
T is for Thenardier – a villain we love to love
U is for understudies – Dave Willetts understudied for Colm Wilkinson before taking over the lead when Wilkinson originated the role on Broadway
V is for Valjean, one of the most iconic roles in modern musicals and the Valjean Quartet from the 25th anniversary:
W is for writers, Claude-Michel Schonberg, Alain Boublil and Herbert Kretzmer
X is for Enjolras’ xylophone vest at the barricades (trust me, it’s real) – big thanks to Debbie Bannigan for telling me!
Y is for young performers – Little Eponine, Little Cosette and Gavroche
Z is for Miz which is the twitter spelling for the Broadway production
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Fabulous Jane !! luv carole n xx
Excellent Jane! x