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realitybites

The best production of les mis...

....would be the following:
Most of the Cardiff cast
The Cardiff version's backdrops
The cardiff version's Orchestrations
The Cardiff versions speakers
The London direction
The London turntable
The London lights

What a tribute to Victor Hugo to have his paintings taking the show to a new level - well done! Applause
Eppie-Sue

I've heard the Cardiff orchestrations and I'm not sure I like them. I'd prefer the London ones with a bigger orchestra, to be honest. They're pretty.
Not sure about the cast, but they don't ALL blow me away. Just going by audio here, of course. And obviously I can't comment on the ensemble, but they, especially, are absolutely brilliant in the London production. <3
Does this sound too defensive? Can't help it. But I'm glad the tour is working so well.

... and it would be greater tribute to Hugo to give Cosette a bigger part. *hmpf*
Orestes Fasting

Glad to hear the new tour is making good impressions. Very Happy Can't wait to see it when it comes to Paris.

However, having seen about ten regional productions I'm fairly convinced that there is no best. Most of the bad productions fall into recognizable categories of 'bad,' but every top-notch staging I've seen has been completely different. Sometimes you can graft elements together--I would love to paste the Copenhagen sets, or the Pittsburgh CLO music direction, onto any number of different productions--but I just can't imagine combining anything else with Signature Theatre's "Tim Burton meets Ridley Scott in a bleak gothic industrial-revolution wasteland" approach. Likewise, the Québec production's attention to the source material and historical background, and the deliberate avoidance of spectacle, wouldn't work well with some of the more... spectacular... productions I've seen. All of the above were amazing productions, the best of all the regionals I've seen, but god only knows what eldritch horror would be spawned if you tried to combine the best elements of each.
realitybites

Orestes, I understand your point but having seen these 2 productions recently, I think they would merge quite successfully Smile
Eppie-Sue

Bwuhuh and to think Carpenter and Katie just LEFT the Queen's. Sad How depressing. I want them back. And JOJ. Preferably, David Shannon, but hey, it's JOJ. I envy the tour, if only for the leads. And the longer "In my life". And the DWM reprise after "Dawn of Anguish". And Fantine's hair in the Epilogue.
l'ivrogne transfiguré

Eppie-Sue wrote:
And the longer "In my life". And the DWM reprise after "Dawn of Anguish". And Fantine's hair in the Epilogue.


They have the DWM reprise?? YAY! Very Happy And I love the extra stuff in In My Life as well. Anything more with Cosette is a good thing.
Eppie-Sue

l'ivrogne transfiguré wrote:
Eppie-Sue wrote:
And the longer "In my life". And the DWM reprise after "Dawn of Anguish". And Fantine's hair in the Epilogue.


They have the DWM reprise?? YAY! Very Happy And I love the extra stuff in In My Life as well. Anything more with Cosette is a good thing.


Apparently, it's instrumental but IT'S THERE. It's not "Let all the women and fathers of children go from heeeerePOSITIOOOOOOONS!" which makes me cry a little inside. They cut so many Amis moments. From the longer scene before "Lamarque is dead" over the "Let's give them a screwing" bit Wink (the long "Back at the barricade"), Combeferre's "Though we may not all survive here, there are things that never die!" and the DWM Reprise. Sad

eta: wtf typos.
l'ivrogne transfiguré

Eppie-Sue wrote:
l'ivrogne transfiguré wrote:
Eppie-Sue wrote:
And the longer "In my life". And the DWM reprise after "Dawn of Anguish". And Fantine's hair in the Epilogue.


They have the DWM reprise?? YAY! Very Happy And I love the extra stuff in In My Life as well. Anything more with Cosette is a good thing.


Apparently, it's instrumental but IT'S THERE. It's not "Let all the women and fathers of children go from heeeerePOSITIOOOOOOONS!" which makes me cry a little inside. They cut so many Amis moments. From the longer scene before "Lamarque is dead" over the "Screwing" bit (the long "Back at the barricade"), Combeferre's "Though we may not all survive here, there are thing's that never die!" and the DWM Reprise. Sad


Really, don't get me started on the amount of cutting they did to the barricade scenes. I hate how now they're building it one minute and are all dead the next. It just all seems so rushed.

Sorry, is this getting off-topic?
Quique

Any production as long as it works.

What hasn't worked so far:

-Most of Cosette's costumes. There has been everything from mauve-colored madness to under-the-sea-ish turquoise. Makes the much hated (which I happen to like, btw) black dress look better and better. Cosette looks dignified, elegant, and often times stunning in the black dress. She looks like Madame Thenardier in "Beggars At the Feast" in some of the other creations. They even make the revival one look good (wandering around her garden in nightgown-Cosette).

-Just from reviews alone, many regional productions' insistence in recreating Javert's suicide effect comes off mega-cheesy. That effect is best left to large stages with plenty of fly and wing space. You just don't perform such an effect in a 200 seat house, unless you want to incite laughter. If I recall correctly, Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera had Javert stab himself in the tummy. Aww. But it's better than confusing everyone due to the effect's failure in looking like anything it should.

-Turntables that aren't used to their full advantage as in the original production, but instead, merely spin the cast around. OK.............

-Enjolras' vest. I love the vest but if you're gonna do it, do it right. Gold spray paint and red felt won't suffice. Shorry.

-An oldie but goodie: Pink brick barricade.

That's all cause I've yet to actually attend a regional production. I'm sure there's more but can't remember now/gotta get studdddying.
Orestes Fasting

Quique wrote:
Any production as long as it works.

What hasn't worked so far:

-Most of Cosette's costumes. There has been everything from mauve-colored madness to under-the-sea-ish turquoise. Makes the much hated (which I happen to like, btw) black dress look better and better. Cosette looks dignified, elegant, and often times stunning in the black dress. She looks like Madame Thenardier in "Beggars At the Feast" in some of the other creations. They even make the revival one look good (wandering around her garden in nightgown-Cosette).

-Just from reviews alone, many regional productions' insistence in recreating Javert's suicide effect comes off mega-cheesy. That effect is best left to large stages with plenty of fly and wing space. You just don't perform such an effect in a 200 seat house, unless you want to incite laughter. If I recall correctly, Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera had Javert stab himself in the tummy. Aww. But it's better than confusing everyone due to the effect's failure in looking like anything it should.

-Turntables that aren't used to their full advantage as in the original production, but instead, merely spin the cast around. OK.............

-Enjolras' vest. I love the vest but if you're gonna do it, do it right. Gold spray paint and red felt won't suffice. Shorry.

-An oldie but goodie: Pink brick barricade.

That's all cause I've yet to actually attend a regional production. I'm sure there's more but can't remember now/gotta get studdddying.


In general, a lot of regionals suffer from the same problems, and they mostly stem from attempts to recreate the original production's effects on a third of the budget. (Though Cosette does usually get a nice dress.)

I would add:

- If you can't pull off a barricade the size of the original production, for heaven's sake do NOT keep it as a central 'impressive' set piece. Québec did very well with this, I thought--theirs wasn't huge, but it didn't have to be because it looked like it was blocking off some tiny narrow medieval Parisian street, not acting as a Looming Symbol of Revolution.

- For the love of God, I never again want to see a DYHTPS where the boys just appear to be standing around singing about revolution and clapping each other on the back, with almost no indication of real popular revolt going on outside. Let's not start sucking each other's dicks quite yet, gentlemen.

And then there are the two biggest moments of Dramatic Turntable Use...

- Gavroche's death. Either use a turntable, or figure out something that actually makes sense, because a lot of the 'solutions' I've seen to how to stage this looked godawfully stupid.

- The Sad Oboe Solo of Dead Barricade Boys. A lot of productions just cut the big swell in the music and use this part to give the audience a quiet moment after everyone dies, which is fair enough but it always seems like something's missing. I am waiting for a regional to come up with something interesting to put in the place of dead-Enjolras-on-the-flag that doesn't involve a turntable; IIRC none of them have delivered so far.
realitybites

<quote>What hasn't worked so far:

-Most of Cosette's costumes. There has been everything from mauve-colored madness to under-the-sea-ish turquoise.</quote>

I'm afraid, in cardiff it is torquoise,trimmed with fluff...

Enjolras death is him revealed on a cart which has none of the gravitas of the turntable.
My burning question about he whole thing was how little of the staging (not the music) was appreciated as part of the success of the original product.

Smile
operafantomet

Quique wrote:
Any production as long as it works.

What hasn't worked so far:

-Most of Cosette's costumes. There has been everything from mauve-colored madness to under-the-sea-ish turquoise. Makes the much hated (which I happen to like, btw) black dress look better and better. Cosette looks dignified, elegant, and often times stunning in the black dress. She looks like Madame Thenardier in "Beggars At the Feast" in some of the other creations. They even make the revival one look good (wandering around her garden in nightgown-Cosette).

Well, problem is that the 1830's produced one of the least flattering female fashion there has ever been (I'm tempted to use the word hideous...). You need to be a pretty amazing costume maker to make that style look good, no matter what colours and fabrics you pick. The whole concept is just jarring.

Fantine has better-looking costume(s), but hers is the earlier Regency style. It's like the good version of the early Romantic style (or opposite, Romantic dresses are the declined version of Regency...).

Can you tell 1830 is my least favourite style ever (for females, anyway)?
KristinT

Regarding the "What to do if you don't have a turntable barricade during the potentially awkwardly long 'Bring Him Home' played on oboe number".

A production in my city didn't use a barricade on a turntable (the set was unconventional in many ways). Everyone lay around dead for a few bars of music. Then Valjean stirred, looked around, located Marius and lugged him down through the sewer manhole. A beat later Javert arrived, noticed the manhole, then did some "thinking hard" acting before running off clearly following it above ground. Then another beat later a young woman (who had been a "featured extra" as the wife/girlfriend of one of the insurgents during "Drink With Me" and the "Dawn of Anguish" number came rushing on, and collapsed to the ground at the sight of all the dead. The rest of the women who'd left earlier also all came back, an actress clearly playing Enjolras' mother did a blood-chilling scream when she found his body, and the lights faded down on all the women grieving for their dead before the scene change to the sewers.

Other things I've seen and liked done by amateur productions include:

The above production, due to the set and staging, didn't have anybody actually go over the barricade and the barricade to a 180 degree so we see what's going on on that side. Gavroche just went over, and we watched everyone listening to him die, before a student went over and brought him back. They staged the final attack like the gunfire just started coming from all sides. Enjolras didn't wave the flag and go down the other side as is traditionally done. He was just the last person to be gunned down, and got a brief but amazing moment of looking around at the deaths he had, arguably, caused in part, before dying himself.

Cosette actually being given stuff to do during the wedding scene so it makes sense she doesn't come over and see what her husband and the Thenardiers are singing and punching on about, and she actually had an "oh my god, I know you people" moment right before Marius took her hand and pulled her out of the scene.

During the finale, as Valean "died" and joined Eponine and Fantine and the rest of the dead characters came on to sing "Do you hear the people sing?" the Bishop came on in the background and quietly extinguished the candles in the two candlesticks before stepping forward and joining the chorus.
operafantomet

KristinT wrote:
During the finale, as Valean "died" and joined Eponine and Fantine and the rest of the dead characters came on to sing "Do you hear the people sing?" the Bishop came on in the background and quietly extinguished the candles in the two candlesticks before stepping forward and joining the chorus.

They do the same in the current Copenhagen production as well, except it is Enjolras who puts the lights out.
kemathenga

Wow, Kristin, that sounds like a performance I would have loved to see.
KristinT

Quote:
They do the same in the current Copenhagen production as well, except it is Enjolras who puts the lights out.


Cool. I know the professional productions have contracts for the casts outlining which actors play which parts (I think the actor for the Bishop doubles up with one of the students) but when I saw this back in high school, so it was definitely before 2000, the Bishop was just a general ensemble member, so he was free to come back. I really loved the symbolism: it was the Bishop who started Valjean on his quest for personal grace, and it was the Bishop who was there at the end.
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