Les Misérables - 25th Anniversary In Concert

A quick break from my trip blogs *wink* I can't believe I have not blogged about this amazing concert when I had watched this previously! Watching it again a few days ago still gives me goosebumps and I feel that I HAD to blog about this amazing DVD.

Les Misérables (or more fondly known as Les Mis to fans) is no stranger to anybody who likes / loves the theatre / musicals. Actually, even if you aren't a fan of the theatre / musicals, there are still many songs that are covered by many contemporary artists here these days. I'm pretty sure many have heard Susan Boyle's rendition of "I Dreamed A Dream"...or even if you live under a shell until today, perhaps even the ever popular TV series Glee's rendition of it (and some other songs from the musical too!). 

The musical is set in France in the 1800's, a time where the poor are plenty and many are oppressed. Prisoners are worked hard like slaves, justice by the police is kinda weird, business owners are not as honest as they seem, and ladies with nowhere to go end up selling their own hair and bodies to stay alive; just to name a few of the scenes you will see in the musical. Then in the second act, there is drama as zealous young men rise to the occasion and fought against the injustice of the government to try and free the people from poverty. Quite a sombre musical, but very inspirational and touching as we also see the strength of the human spirit when put against the odds!

This DVD though is not a full-on musical. Rather, it is a concert (as the title mentions), where the cast stand in front of microphones and sing the musical numbers. Everyone is dressed in costume though, and there are some props used in the scenes as well as sound effects that are well-timed to bring out the feel and atmosphere of the time. 

While at first I was put off by the idea of the actors just standing there and singing, by the second song I was hooked and couldn't take my eyes of the screen as I was swept into the whole experience. This, I believe, is due to the excellent casting...they really brought out the emotions of the characters and making you feel as if you're in the moment with them! For the 25th anniversary concert, they have roped in some of West End / Broadway's biggest names like Lea Salonga (best known for her role in Miss Saigon), Ramin Karimloo (the current Phantom in Love Never Dies!), and Norm Lewis (who originated the role of King Triton in the musical version of The Little Mermaid).

(Left to right): Norm Lewis as Inspector Javert...LOVED his interpretation of the character! His deep voice just brings something to Javert; Lea Salonga as Fantine....although her voice has changed a bit since her Miss Saigon days, she still brings a lot of depth to Fantine. Her rendition of "I Dreamed A Dream" really brought tears to my eyes as she sings of what she had lost.

Ramin Karimloo!! ♥ He was superb as Enjolras...the leader of all the young men who fought for their freedom! I first wanted to watch the concert after hearing about him being in it after seeing him perform live when he was in KL with Stephen Rahman-Hughes, and he did not disappoint in his turn as Enjolras =)

The biggest surprise for me was Alfie Boe, cast as Jean Valjean (the protagonist). I have no idea who he was at the time, but his voice is amazing and OMG there's something about his eyes...I don't know, I guess I'm a sucker for guys with lovely eyes. Whenever he sings, there is always a twinkle; so much kindness in his eyes, which really befits the character he plays...a doting father to his daughter and a man with a really big heart. The biggest solo for Jean Valjean just tugs at the heartstrings when he sings and prays about bringing Marius safely home from the war. Couldn't stop listening to it! Video is below...watch and you'll see what I mean *wink*

Ah yes, forgot to mention about Nick Jonas as well! He was another surprise...cast as Marius, he actually held his own quite well even though his voice was not as strong and not really made for theatre. Not bad for a teen pop star =)

And just when you thought the end of the concert was amazing enough (I was tearing and smiling as the audience rose to their feet applauding the cast), there is yet another surprise! For the encore, they brought out the ORIGINAL 1985 cast of London who proceeds to perform some of the numbers....words can't describe it! Especially the performance of "Bring Him Home" by the Jean Valjean Quartet - which are the 4 gentlemen who have played Jean Valjean throughout the years, including Alfie Boe....listen to the oldest Jean Valjean (Colm Wilkinson). I was absolutely gobsmacked that he can still pull those notes even at his age (though I shouldn't be surprised since he IS a performer)! 

A highly recommended DVD to watch especially if you're a big fan of musicals or just music in general....just remember to have some tissue at hand =) Now, if they could bring this musical over to Malaysia that would be just AWESOME! Or, I could go to London...even better idea! LOL! 
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