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BrOaDwAy BaBy 1993

So... I just got cast as Eponine... what now?

I found out today that I was cast as Eponine in the Les Mis School Edition. I'm extremely happy, and super excited, but there is a looming rainclound over my festive attitude.

OH MY GOD. WHAT IF I END UP BEING AN EPPIE-SUE.

I really need some help on character development so this doesn't happen. Because if I become this fluffy, whiny Eponine, I will most likely have to do myself bodily harm.

And no one wants this.

So help would be greatly appreciated. Very Happy
Quique

Yeah, nobody likes an Eppie-Sue. Playing up the "can't get a man", emo, woe-is-me aspect is uninteresting.

I recommend turning to her sections in the novel. There you'll get heaps of inspiration no doubt.

Keep in mind though that the musical is an adaptation of the novel and her character is much altered in the stage version. She is much more sympathetic and good-hearted in the musical. Most fans generally agree that a balance between the two is best; giving her a tough edge throughout and then softening the character a bit during the first half of "On My Own" and for "A Little Fall of Rain."

Sadly, most Eponines make an impressive entrance during "Look Down," showing plenty of spunk and edge, but it usually ends there. And most have the right idea during the first half of OMO, only to ruin the second half with what seems like basically a list of "why my life sucks and why you should feel sorry for me" set to music. I see the song as more introspective and a reaffirmation of the character's toughness--a struggle between her own need for self-control and her overwhelming feelings for Marius. It's very emotional yes, but not a simplistic sobfest.

Some of my favorite interpretations were by Sutton Foster, Sarah Uriarte Berry, and Jodie Langel. I haven't seen her but I've loved what I have been exposed to of the current London Eponine Nancy Sullivan.

Good luck and break legs!!
Vanessa20

Congratulations!! Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy You've got the role that everyone always loves and I'm sure you'll do a great job with it! It's so good that you already know not to be fluffy or whiny in the role, and I really like what I've seen of your videos. You have such a mature, beautiful voice that could really bring gravitas to the role that it doesn't usually have.

Here are some tips from me. I don't know how good they are, but I hope they help you, and I hope they're not too long:

1. Don’t go around with a cutsey “I’m streetwise and spunky” smile on your face. I’ve seen that done, but it’s far away from Hugo’s Eponine. With the life she leads, she’s not “spunky” – she’s grubby, downtrodden and tough because she has to be. I’d love to see an Eponine whose general expression is a serious one, with eyes “both bold and wary,” as I think Norman Denny’s translation of the Brick describes them. Not that she should be morose, she has to be cheerful with Marius, but having her be all “I’m cool” just doesn’t feel right.

2. Don’t be cute and flirty with Marius. If you’re too charming, the audience won’t understand why he isn’t attracted to you and will possibly hate him for it. Go for grittier. I still remember Celia Keenan-Bolger’s performance in the Broadway revival: she was such a beaten-down wounded animal of a ‘Ponine, who carried herself in a slouchy, unrefined way. Her attempts to flirt with Marius were very awkward, brash and unfeminine, so it was no wonder that he didn’t respond. Of course that isn’t the only good way to play the role – and I almost found it too gritty for the way she’s written in the musical – but it’s a concept that I thought you might find helpful. (There are videos of her on Youtube – maybe you’ve seen them already.)

3. This is just a personal opinion of mine, but even though you want to be gritty, don’t try too, too hard to be “edgy.” The audience still has to feel for you. I can’t stand Eponines in fanfics who are totally bitchy and angry at the world, and consider Marius a total a**hole for not loving them. In a non-musical adaptation of the Brick it might work perfectly well: the writing could make the audience understand that her life made her that way. But in the musical, where she's obviously meant to be loved and admired, I think playing her that way would just make her into a Jerk Sue.

4. This isn’t really advice about how not to be an Eppie-Sue, but I think it’s useful: be careful in ALFOR to neither overplay nor underplay the pain. I’ve seen too many Eponines – both live and on Youtube – who either didn’t seem wounded at all but just lay comfortably in Marius’ arms before inexplicably dying, or who ruined the song with constant gasping and writhing that took attention away form the words. It’s a delicate balance you have to strike. Probably not too difficult, though – Lea Salonga manages it pretty well in the TAC.

Have fun!! Very Happy Very Happy
riverdawn

I don't have much advice, but I just wanted to say congratulations!
music is my life!!!

Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy

awwww! you got the part everyone wants! Laughing anyway i'm really glad you've got this part, i mean i'd kill to play her in a few years in London Wink

our Eponine's acting was very good but her singing was atrocious! her voice was extremely whiney and edgy, and in the robbery it was painful Confused

the way i'd play her is as a thenardier who basically goes her own way. She probably really hates her family, and can be pretty selfish, but it's only to survive.
With Marius, I'd try to make her flirting almost funny, but not too OTT otherwise it loses its tragic-ness Laughing And try out a few dazed/happy expressions for when you're with him, even in the most dire situations, you're with him, and nothing else matters.

In ALFoR i'd be really happy you're there in his arms until the key change, where i think it's perfectly okay to cry out in pain. The last verse.... omg i love it Smile The best version of this is i've seen was in the UK tour of the show, where she was being rocked in M's arms but both of them looked and sounded so sad and uncomfortable. the last "that's all i need to know" is the line that makes me cry tbh. The pain should interrupt the singing on "need" or something, and then recover on "to know"....

In a can, she's playful, tough, desperate, and jealous, and that envy needs to come out in OMO Smile

if you have any other questions feel free to PM me, i was extremely obsessed with Eppy for so many years and would actually love to play her someday Smile
BrOaDwAy BaBy 1993

Ahhh, this is such good advice, guys. Thanks for all the support and help. Applause

I totally agree about the whole lack/excess of pain predicament in ALFoR. When I saw the Pittsburgh CLO production with Ashley Wilkinson as Eponine, sh writhed around on the stage gasping like a fish out of water. It was almost comical. But on the other hand, just sort of... laying there... doesn't really make sense. @music is my life!!! - The advice about doing a gasp/cry of pain/thing at the key change... GOLDEN. I'll definitely use that.

But yeah, I love Brick!Eponine way more than I do the musical version. She's so much more real. I'm even dying my hair so I can be a ginger for the show Very Happy

Random Fact That Makes Me Very Excited: Our Marius is THE SEXIEST THING ON THE PLANET. And I get to die in his arms. SCORE.
Thanks again, everyone!
Eppie-Sue

I think you need to structure the character. I don't agree that she should have a playful side at any moment after Cosette and Marius meet for the first time. Her behaviour towards Marius is absolutely important, and what I really like about Nancy, who is playing the part on the West End stage right now, is that she seems to change her posture and the way she acts as soon as Marius turns towards her. It mirrors the way she stops speaking Argot in the book as soon as she falls in love with him. I'd also give this "falling in love" a lot of thought. In the musical, her character is centred around that, but is this love really pure, honest love, or is it something she's following, that she's becoming obsessed with? And how aware is she of it? In the book, she isn't aware, she just has this dark, deep longing to be with him, but she doesn't make any advances. She should NOT be flirty. She is delighted by Marius: He pays attention to her, and she projects all her dreams and all her hope onto him.
Interestingly, you'll find many of Eponine's scenes from the musical in the book, too, even though her character is changed to suit the "love triangle" stuff a bit better.
A very important chapter would be "An apparition to Marius" - Eponine's Errand. OMO mirrors a passage from the book, too, it's what she says in "A Rose In Misery". And my favourite part of Eponine in the book is this passage, and I think it it vital to how your interaction with whoever was cast as Marius plays out:
[Marius is on his way to meet Cosette again]

"Good evening, Monsieur Marius."

He raised his head and recognized Eponine.

This produced a singular effect upon him. He had not thought of that girl a single time since the day when she had conducted him to the Rue Plumet, he had not seen her again, and she had gone completely out of his mind. He had no reasons for anything but gratitude towards her, he owed her his happiness, and yet, it was embarrassing to him to meet her.
[...]
He replied with some embarrassment:--

"Ah! so it's you [vous], Eponine?"

"Why do you call me you [vous]? Have I done anything to you?"

"No," he answered.

Certainly, he had nothing against her. Far from it. Only, he felt that he could not do otherwise, now that he used thou [tu] to Cosette, than say you [vous] to Eponine.

As he remained silent, she exclaimed:--

"Say--"

Then she paused. It seemed as though words failed that creature formerly so heedless and so bold. She tried to smile and could not. Then she resumed:--

"Well?"

Then she paused again, and remained with downcast eyes.

"Good evening, Mr. Marius," said she suddenly and abruptly; and away she went."


Sorry, maybe that isn't any help. But I don't think she shows any jealousy. I don't think she's flirty. I think the idea of a relationship with Marius doesn't really occur to her, she just wants to be with him, around him, somehow. He's more some idea that she has, some insane imagination. She doesn't actually know him very well. She loves the idea of him.

Also, one question: Do you have the full Attack On Rue Plumet? With the short exchange between Eponine and Montparnasse? I hate that they cut it from the current version, as it shows that by screaming, Eponine is not selflessly protecting Marius (and Cosette, etc.), but that she screams because: "He'll think this is an ambush, he'll think I'm in it, too". She's not selfless, and even if they've but it in your version, too, it's important to bear that in mind.
music is my life!!!

Eppie-sue - the reason i mentioned jealousy is because of the relationship between her and Cosette. It's like 2 best friends (or not so best friends...) fighting over a boy they both fancy... if that makes sense Smile but it'd be an acceptable amount of jealousy, rather than just for the sake of it... Rolling Eyes
Eppie-Sue

music is my life!!! wrote:
It's like 2 best friends (or not so best friends...) fighting over a boy they both fancy...

But that's not what it's about. I think it's vital for Eponine's character, that she doesn't think about Cosette at all. She doesn't feel jealous of her, she only focuses on Marius, without any regard to Cosette. There is no jealousy, at no point. Yes, she sings "We were children together, look what's become of me" - but that doesn't imply that she's jealous. It's all about her and Marius. She has this irrational idea of what Marius could be like, for her, with her, and it shows in the Rue Plumet scenes, it shows in her lines in ODM, but note that she sings "these are words he'll never say", "why regret what could not be" and "one more day with him not caring", etc - she never considers them being a couple as a possibility, she just has this very childlike dream of it being different, being better, but Cosette doesn't play any part in this. She's not a rival. She doesn't really think about Cosette, she's too obsessed with Marius and herself, I believe. Cosette is only the moment where her relatonship with Marius changes, mainly because Marius himself changes in the way he acts towards her. But there is no actual relationship between Cosette and Eponine, neither in the book nor in the musical, and she doesn't consider her a "rival" that she has to "fight" in order to win the boy.

ETA: I'll add that musical!Eponine is a lot more aware of the situation, probably also because it needs to be sung out for the audience. And, of course, her relationship to Marius is presented differently. So, yes, there is an element of reflection in the musical that you don't get in the book, especially due to OMO, but that doesn't change the fact that Eponine decides to follow Marius and devotes herself to being with him, somehow. Not as a partner, but just to be around.
BrOaDwAy BaBy 1993

EXACTLY WHAT I WAS LOOKING FOR.

That's the perfect way to sum up NOT being a whiny, fluffy Eponine.

I'm super excited for ALFOR. I think it's the best song in the show, OMO doesn't even compare. Plus, the whole "uber hot Marius," thing that I mentioned previously factors into it a little bit. Hahaha. It should make it VERY easy to get into character.

PROBLEM: My best friend is playing Cosette. My other best friend is playing Mme T. It's going to be hard to get into character thinking "Hahaha, Kacy's telling Evan that I never had a scrap of brain. Cute."

How do I overcome this?
Eppie-Sue

BrOaDwAy BaBy 1993 wrote:
PROBLEM: My best friend is playing Cosette. My other best friend is playing Mme T. It's going to be hard to get into character thinking "Hahaha, Kacy's telling Evan that I never had a scrap of brain. Cute."

How do I overcome this?

Don't think of them as your friends on stage. It's taking it all a step further, really, and it will be easier when they have settled into the roles, too: The moment you play a scene, you have to think of them as the characters. It's a good thing that, as I said, there is no relationship between Cosette and Eponine. The only moment I've ever seen those kinds of emotions entering a scene was back in October here in London, when Katie Hall, our Cosette, was leaving. She and Nancy had become very good friends, and the moment they stared each other through the gate, as Marius climbed over it, both had tears streaming dow their face and barely managed to hide the sobs. Its was heartbreaking. But that is a very extreme situation, and they still pulled it off. Apart from that, really, you don't have much to do with Cosette, so once you've grown into your character, it will help to just adapt the way she would be thinking in this scene: Not paying much attention to Cosette, only focusing on Marius.
About Mme Thénardier, well, same. It really will help that "your" world is Marius. And the fact that you're friends could even help: You can sit down and talk through it and find ways to work around it or work with it, to develop the characters together. A cast can have chemistry without it looking like they're friends.
BrOaDwAy BaBy 1993

Ah, I see. That's a very good idea. I knew that as Eponine, I really wouldn't have much interaction with Cosette at all. It also helps that my friend Kacy (Mme T.) Has been my "mom" in three other musicals we've done together. (Footloose, Peter Pan, Wizard of Oz) So, it should be easier to actually BELIEVE she's my mother, since we've done this three times before Razz
mezzo_soprano

LOL my cast of Les Mis had some of the strangest offstage dynamics. .. . .

Normal: M. and Mme. T were thick as thieves, Little cosette and fantine were really close, Mme V (Factory overseer) and Fantine really were co-workers . . .

Strange: Fantine and Javert were very very close. Cosette and Madame T were best friends.
BrOaDwAy BaBy 1993

Yeah, our cast is kind of like that.

Eponine (me) and Cosette are BFFs

Marius and Whore #3 are dating

M. and Mme. T used to date

Valjean and Javert have gay crushes on each other (they refuse to admit it, but everyone knows).

Lots of other fun things. It's grand.
music is my life!!!

aha ours was something like...

everyone loved Javert, but found Valjean incredibly cocky and arrogrant, although he's amazingly talented
our cosette and marius got on really well (thank god!) and i (as madame thenardier) get on really well with them, and pretty much everyone tbh Smile
our eponine.... arghhh she was new so even as she got Eponine, she'd ruffled some feathers as there are people in the company who'd been in for years and wanted that part. her understudy on the other hand was lovely Smile (and sang her songs WAY better Razz )
My Thenardier was amazing, but it felt a bit weird as his girlfriend was my understudy Shocked ahhhh it was good fun though Smile
And Enjy.... people think he's a bit odd, but i love him anyway Smile
mezzo_soprano

For randomness backstage. . .

You would think Marius would be the lover backstage. Nope.

That would be Javert. LOL
BrOaDwAy BaBy 1993

Oh, I have a feeling this is going to be good times.

FUN FACT: I am going to prom with Enjolras. Oooooh yeah. Be jealous.
mezzo_soprano

LOL.

I was Fantine and I am going to prom with. . . . Inspector Javert.
BrOaDwAy BaBy 1993

LUCKY. *steals Javert and runs away with him*

Fun story from rehearsal last night: We haven't started music yet. So we were working on our character development and ad-libbing, no rules, we just had to stay with the basic plot. Well, our Javert happens to be SEXY. So, during the whole "It's the police, disappear, run for it, it's Javert!" part, I turned around, gave the guy a 'Ponine-ish wink, and said "Hellooooo, Inspector. Forget Marius, I like men in uniform." He blushed. Rather fiercely. I felt accomplished.
mezzo_soprano

LOL. Our Javert was pretty cute. And one of my best friends.

In our show(Which was a play, not the musical)Fantine does not become a prostitute. But somehow EVERYONE knew that plot point. And decided to tease me about it. The running joke involved me always being on my knees in front of someone. (I was always begging someone for mercy, but my lovely sister made that dirty)

One day (when the director wasn't listening) Javert and co. commented that the prison sentance could be reduced by me being on my knees. He got slapped.
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