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Whore!Fantine - Still Dignified or Totally Washed Up?I just felt like starting another poll, this time about a characterization detail.
When Fantine enters at the end of "Lovely Ladies" and sings "Come on, Captain..." how do you prefer for her to deliver it? Still with a shred of ladylike dignity, or completely broken-down, whorish, possibly drunk, etc? I've certainly seen it played both ways.
I started thinking about this after reading the comments on Youtube for the "Lovely Ladies" clip from London 2000, where Gunilla Backman delivers her "Come on, Captain..." in a drunk, clumsy, pitiful way. It's a sharp contrast with Ruthie Henshall's more collected, delicate, genuinely seductive delivery of the lines in the TAC, and someone wrote that they prefer Ruthie for being a more dignified Fantine, while Gunilla "gives it all away too soon."
I've always tended to favor the broken-down way, since in the book Hugo so vividly describes how bedraggled, hardened, melancholy and ugly she becomes as a whore - "nothing of her former self" he says. But on the other hand, maybe that doesn't translate so well to the stage - maybe I wouldn't have liked it if I hadn't thought it was justified by the Brick. Maybe it is better if she keeps more of her dignity in the musical, especially since the libretto implies that she's still new to the profession at that point (Bamatabois' "Here's something new...").
Just wondering what other people's preferences are.
||I prefer her still dignified if only on shreds. I always pictured her as havin a sense of humour and that's a good - sometimes the only - way to preserve some dignity. When she says in the Brick: "Okay, let's sell the rest!" this to me conveys something of that. She still feels in control of a tiny rest of her dignity. If she didn't I don't think she would have lashed back at Bamatabois nor defended herself in front of Javert. She was ready to ask Bamatabois for forginveness but she KNEW she was in the right and told it.|
||I think it needs to be both. Like, she's got really nothing left to live for besides Cosette and no offense to her or anything, because I would be like that too if I was dying and being forced to sell my self, she's getting a bit crazy. However, if she had no diginity left, she wouldn't have attacked Bamatabois after he hit her with a snowball/tried to buy her. So I think it should be broken down and whorish (how else she is going to get customers to buy her so she can keep Cosette alive?) but with a drop of hope and slef-respect.|
||This is also reflected in her line in the musical "even a whore who has gone to bad won't be had by a rat". There are definitely limits to her self-humiliation.|
||I have to agree with most everyone here; Fantine wouldn't have fought with Bambatois if she didn't have some dignity...she would have gone, 'Oh, well!' and flopped down for him. IMHO. XD|
||In my production, my director had all the whores on the edge of the stage at the point with their arms out (like for a payment, but also in a pleading way with the words of the verse), and when Fantine (me) came out I would sing the verse starting delicately, but building up towards the last phrase while I put my hand out like the other whores. I really like how he blocked it that way, so I would agree that while she is in tatters, her dignity isn't completely gone and the verse should be more of a build than a complete "giveaway."|
I really like that blocking, Maggie. And I'm sure you were a kick ass Fantine!
I like my Fantines just utterly disgusted at what's become of them. I see Fantine as the complete polar opposite of anything whorish, so she'd be almost beside herself in self-loathing.
Which means I'd make an awful Fantine.
||Definitely the first option, for me. Her pride and refusal to completely give up is what causes her to refuse Bamatabois. In my production we played with the end of that bit, and it ended up that at "Even a whore...", Fantine seems to resign herself and gets up to go to him, but at the last moment, she takes one last look at him, decides she could never give herself to someone so vile, and suddenly turns and scratches him.|