Les Mis 25th

All posts tagged Les Mis 25th

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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Although this blog is primarily about the uber talented Alfie Boe, we also like to showcase other music, especially young and upcoming voices who are starting out on their musical journey.  Long term readers will remember reading about a young singer by the name of Beth Ford – I’m happy to tell you that Beth has just launched her website ahead of the release of her debut single later this year.

I caught up with Beth recently to talk about this exciting development in her musical career:

Beth started singing in public with her local church choir, Jigsaw at age 5 and she also had her first solo at this young age!  From then, she has been singing with the Voice in a Million Choir and the Walsall Youth Choir amongst others.  In addition, Beth regularly performs at an Open Mic night in her home town of Bloxwich and always gets lovely comments about her pure, natural voice.  This quite often leads to further performances; most of her appearance invitations can be traced back to those open mic nights.

In this day of reality TV and the seemingly never ending ways of making it to the big time quickly, many people will want to know why Beth hasn’t tried and has no interest in, Britain’s Got Talent or similar.  Quite simply, Beth prefers to hone her talent in a natural progression – she knows she can sing so being told that she can sing in such a public way does not hold any attraction for her.  She wants to make it on her own merits and not just because she appeared on a TV talent contest.  This isn’t the confidence of youth talking either as this quote from Rebecca Newman, The People’s Soprano shows:

‘Beth’s interpretation of these songs is very relaxing and sung with an elegant simplicity – without pretence or ego – which is so refreshing!’

Perhaps surprisingly for a teenager, Beth’s musical influences are mainly musical theatre, especially Les Mis which is how she first came to hear the vocal ability of her main inspiration, Alfie Boe.  Upon seeing the DVD of LM25, Beth was overwhelmed with the music and Boe himself, so much so that her parents got her VIP tickets for Boe’s Bring Him Home tour.  The concert date was December 2011 and Beth soon found that the VIP element involved a meet and greet with Boe before the performance.  Also at that meet and greet was another young singer, Flo Bannigan and Alfie invited the pair to sing Impossible Dream with him at that afternoon’s soundcheck.  To say they were excited was an understatement but the result was beyond their wildest dreams.  The video below shows Alfie and conductor James Morgan exchanging glances of appreciation at Beth’s voice and Alfie was so impressed that he invited the girls to sing in the concert with him.

Beth cites this as the moment that gave her the confidence to further explore and develop her voice; as she says

“if Alfie hadn’t have done that, I would never have had the confidence to keep going”.

As inspiring as this was, that wasn’t the last of Alfie’s generosity.  Beth and family had tickets for Alfie’s concert at Llangollen and when his management got wind of this, they were all invited backstage during the interval.  Beth still has the unopened Mars Bar Alfie gave her!

Now, Beth is starting to take her first steps into the world of recording and releasing which she first got into through her singing teacher Gary Hill who worked at Birmingham Music Academy which has its own recording studio, Progress Studio.  The result was the unreleased I’m Always Chasing Rainbows and Beth is giving you the chance to download and hear her naturally gifted voice – for free!

Click here for Beth’s website and download I’m Always Chasing Rainbows now – hurry, this is a limited time offer!

You won’t regret it but don’t take my word for it, this is what Michael Boe had to say about Beth:

‘So refreshing to hear a young artist really use her natural and unique voice without resorting to vocal gimmicks. This is an artist who deserves to be heard and is certainly one to watch out for in the future. Every note, spot on.’

So, if you’re a fan of soulful female vocalists, visit Beth Ford Music and get the free download I’m Always Chasing Rainbows.  This hasn’t been released…so get it while you can!

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