Comfortable and Furious

Les Misérables In Concert: The 25th Anniversary Edition

If you are a reader and fan of Ruthless, you know why you are here and what we do. We love our movies, especially classics, and of course the low-brow favorites in our 80’s Action and Horror Movies. We have also been known to mock and rant with impunity, with no sacred cows anywhere in sight. 

There is one title in one category that is untouchable. That production is the magnificent Les Misérables, and specifically the live 25th Anniversary masterpiece at the O2 in London (2010). I have seen this performance at least a dozen times, and time willing, I will see it a dozen more as it is on the top shelf of my Prime Video library. 

If you have never seen Les Misérables or are not familiar with what it is all about, I will forgive you, I guess. Les Misérables is a French historical novel written in 1862 by Victor Hugo. It is the story of the entwined lives of several characters, with inevitable injustice and tragedy. Many think that Les Mis was about the French Revolution, but no, it centered around a small insurrection that occurred over 40 years after the 1789 French Revolution that rocked the world. For a concise summary of Les Misérables, you can read about it here. The plot is just too layered and complicated to go into depth about it here.

Les Mis is a saga that contains strong religious overtones. However, the primary story is about injustice, tragedy, redemption and love. Jean Valjean is magnificently portrayed by the opera singer Alfie Boe. It was widely thought that the 1985 version of Valjean with Colm Wilkinson and his signature song, Bring Him Home, could never, ever be supplanted. That conventional wisdom was obliterated by Alfie Boe’s tour de force in 2010. Boe got a 5-minute standing ovation after he belted out Bring Him Home, with him actually having to break character as the on-stage cast behind him were in tears. Boe’s performance at O2 was the greatest in the history of Les Misérables…bold words indeed.

Valjean was sentenced to 5 years in prison for merely stealing a loaf of bread to try to feed his starving family. He ultimately served another 15 years for trying to escape, and was a wanted man for parole violation. The essence of the story is his moral dilemma of whether to face his past and persecution by Javert (Norm Lewis), or to continue his assumed identity as a successful businessman, and mayor of a small town.

Things become complicated and lives become hopelessly entangled as Valjean assumes custody of the young daughter of Fantine (Cosette), who he had unintentionally wronged in a factory incident. This led to tragic and devastating consequences and the death of Fantine. That’s about all the plot details that I’m going to disclose. There was then the subsequent falling in love, treachery, heartbreak and the ultimate sacrifice of love and idealism when facing injustice.

The splendor of the production of the 25th Anniversary was over and beyond the excellence that you would expect from someone like Cameron McIntosh. The real coup was pulling off getting Alfie to play Jean Valjean, and put on a spectacle of opera singing unlike anything seen before at Les Mis. Along with Alfie Boe, we had the cast members listed below:

The supporting cast was superior, with just one obvious exception. Nick Jonas is a professional pop singer, but he was clearly out of his element sharing the same stage with powerhouses like Alfie Boe and the great Ramin Karimloo. This was never more obvious than when the performance was over, and the Production Company of the 1985 Les Mis appeared on the stage for a stunning trip down memory lane.

After the 4 Jean Valjeans (Colm Wilkinson, John Owen Jones, Simon Bowman, Alfie Boe) sang a quartet of Bring Him Home, with Alfie Boe literally bringing the house down, we heard from Marius (Michael Ball). The difference between Nick Jonas and Michael Ball was immeasurable. Regardless of this miscast, nothing can ever take away the brilliance and excellence of this 20th Anniversary Production of Les Misérables.

Take my hand, and lead me to salvation. Take my love, for love is everlasting. And remember, the truth that once was spoken: to love another person is to see the face of God. -Jean Valjean

10.0+/10.0 With The Goatesians Rating of Almost too Great to Rate



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