Idina Menzel - Always Starting Over (male version)
I loved the Les Mis revival so, so much. It was exactly what it needed to be - faithful to the original in its core, with new touches that made it current and lively, and supported by an incredible cast. Seriously I can’t even begin to describe how awesome this cast is. Ramin Karimloo’s sweet, fatherly, compassionate yet strong but still paranoid Valjean is one of the best I’ve ever seen. Will Swenson provides a touching, superficially rigorous, but deeply tormented nemesis. Samantha Hill actually gives Cosette a personality when she bursts with curiosity and longing for some actual living and not just the hidden half-life she’s experienced. Caissie Levy broke my heart with how she completely, physically trusts herself and her most precious secret to Valjean (Fantine’s Death was brilliantly acted and directed). Kyle Scatliffe burns with a fiery passion. Andy Mientus is better at playing dumb, lovesick Marius rather than depressed, shell-shocked Marius (the 1800’s Eastern European vampire nobleman look he has in those scenes doesn’t help), but his Empty Chairs is still powerful. Keala Settle’s neurotic Mme Thenardier is hysterical.
And can we talk about Nikki M. James’ Eponine for a moment.
Nikki’s Eponine is so vivid and alive and spontaneous it fet like watching the character’s arc for the very first time (and I’ve been on the Les Mis ride many times). It felt like falling in love with Marius along with her for the very first time. It felt like crying for her for the very first time. Nikki plays Eponine with such joy, with all the joy of a girl who’s been through hell and yet is still hopeful enough that the sight of pretty hair on a pretty boy makes her happy. Which of course makes the heartbreak of her On My Own absolutely incredible.
Joy and heartbreak are actually the perfect words to describe this entire production. The bonds between the characters feel more natural and joyful than ever until tragedy strikes, and when it does, it hurts. So. Much. It’s more intimate than any Les Mis I’ve ever seen, and while I enjoy the operatic nature of the original production, I was overwhelmed by the little heartfelt details that can be lost in such a big piece if the direction doesn’t allow these characters to be actual human beings. Valjean’s little dance with baby Cosette, Eponine’s hand through Marius’ hair, Valjean hilariously separating Marius and Cosette after their first encounter, Marius rocking back and forth with Eponine’s dead body in his arms, Fantine’s hand on Valjean’s face as she’s dying, the animalistic closeness between Valjean and Javert in their fight scenes, the devastating sight of Gavroche’s body being laid beside Enjolras on a bare carriage - these are all details that felt impossibly alive, vibrant and true, moreso than any scene in any other version of the show I’ve seen.
Oh, and I need a cast album like I need the very air I’m breathing.
I normally don’t do gossip, especially unhappy gossip, but given how their powerfully public relationship was very important and inspiring to a lot of LGBTQ kids out there (judging from my dash alone) who’re rightfully looking for their own fairytale romance, I thought I’d pass this along. It’s sad. It happens. Doesn’t mean romance is dead.
I wish both of them happiness. Especially Matt, who’s been one of my favorites for a long time.
Currently giving money to the London theaters like I’m trying to pay back all the Broadway bootlegs I’ve ever watched
My credit card is sweating blood.