A lovely weekend in the Big Apple + Thoughts on 2014 Les Miz on Broadway

Hi everyone! I’m back. Well, s-l-0-w-l-y. I was blissfully *disconnected* for about 5 days, other than checking news on my iPhone occasionally, I didn’t write or visit any blogs at all. It felt pretty good actually, I guess I was feeling a bit burned out so that was a much-needed break.

Well, I didn’t see any movies at all this weekend. I don’t usually go to the cinema when I’m out of town. Not sure why I just prefer spending my time seeing the place I’m visiting, but of course I made time to see a show since we stayed near the Theatre District.

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Can you believe it I never actually saw Les Misérables until this weekend? I almost didn’t make it as TKTS ran out of tickets (only singles were available), but glad I persisted and went directly to the Imperial Theater directly. We ended up with one of the best seats ever, four rows from stage right in the center!

This play a re-imagining by the same producer who revamped The Phantom of the Opera, Cameron Mackintosh. I knew I had to see it the fact that Phantom himself is playing Jean Valjean! 😉 Ramin Karimloo played The Phantom in both the West End’s POTO and its sequel Love Never Dies (which I reviewed a few years back). I LOVE his booming tenor as Phantom, and boy did he impress me once again as Valjean.

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Photos from Broadway.com – clockwise from bottom left: Ramin singing ‘Bring Him Home,’ Ramin as prisoner 24601, Building the Barricade scene, Marius & Eponine & Javert’s singing ‘Stars’

Ramin was a brilliant Phantom but I’d say his performance is even more electrifying as Valjean. His voice is just incredible from start to finish, but the ballad Bring Him Home is particularly moving. He’s definitely got stage charisma as well as the physicality and emotional gravitas to mesmerize an audience. Now I’m actually curious to see the film version and see how Hugh Jackman fares in the role of Valjean. Yep I haven’t seen the film either, believe it or not. From the trailer though, I definitely prefer Anne Hathaway’s performance to Caissie Levy as Fantine. I mean, I almost always cry whenever I hear her sing the iconic I Dreamed a Dream, but the stage rendition didn’t get me all emotional. My hubby joked that instead of Les Miserables, the way Fantine was portrayed here was less miserable 😀

I like Earl Carpenter‘s voice and performance as Javert as well. Interestingly he had played Phantom before in the London production with Ramin as Raoul. I especially love the technique used when Javert threw himself into the Seine river. Overall, the male cast fared much better than the female ones. I’m not that impressed by all three main female characters (Fantine, Éponine, Cosette), both in terms of vocal and acting performance. The love triangle of sort between Marius, Éponine and Cosette fell rather flat, but I guess I wasn’t expecting high romance the way of Phantom & Christine in POTO.

So what’s the verdict? Well, despite some of the *flaws*, I enjoyed it tremendously. I certainly don’t mind seeing it again but only with Ramin as Valjean. He truly made the show for me and was always the highlight every time he appeared on screen. When he sang Bring Him Home, which is a prayer to heaven to save Marius, it’s as if he lifted the entire production to a whole new heights with his soulful and rich rendition that gave me goose bumps!! I’d think that any other production I’d see without him would be slightly less epic.

Check out the trailer below:

A Fab Weekend in the Big Apple

Well, the rest of the time we just did the tourist-y thing as we’ve got the NYC Pass. But of course we had to make a stop at Dominique Ansel bakery for their famous Cronuts [croissant donut in case you didn’t know)! We got there at 9 right as they opened but still had to wait an hour as they only allowed 20 ppl in at a time and there were about 3 times the number of people in line by that time! It was well worth it though, YUM! Thank the Lord for the fantabulously sunny weather. It only rained on Saturday which wasn’t a total wash-out, and the rest of the time we’re treated to a gorgeous & warm weather!

Ok folks, that’s it from the NYC trip. I’ll return to my regular blogging schedule later this week, starting with posting my interview with a cast member from Starz’s Black Sails, South African-based actor Sean Cameron Michael. So stay tuned! 😀


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