My third trip to the barricades has been and gone, and what a trip it was! The build up was full of nerves and not so silent prayers of ‘PLEASE let him be on!’ for Hadley as I found out he’d been ill on the Friday eve, and being a massive Ramin and Hadley fan, I felt like my first chance to see them live together was slipping through my fingers. I kept an eye on his Twitter feed and near enough exploded with delight when I saw an update that included the four magic words: ‘Back on the Barricade’. (Oh how easily pleased am I?? )
So, knowing that ‘my boys’ would be onstage for the evening certainly amped up my excitement levels and my friend and I whiled away a couple of happy of hours gushing over the prospect and our numerous other fandom’s that we share. She’s a newbie to seeing Les Mis live, so I loved how her Valjean would be someone she admires just as much as I do.
A couple of new pre-show experiences in my case: I got a brochure at last thanks to my mum and dad, and were seated BEFORE the orchestra started warming up. It was weird watching everyone file in with just the buzz of talk instead of music, but it wasn’t long before the lights went down and the chain gang tramped onstage, seeing Ramin brought an instant smile to my face which was all the wider when Hadley marched into view, queue ‘happy bouncing Kerrie’ who didn’t leave for the remainder of the evening, only making room for ‘emotional, sobbing Kerrie’ at a few points, as I’ll go into later.
Was also happy to find out (and I mean no disrespect to Liam Tamne, I liked his Enjolras very much) that Scott Garnham would be our Enjolras for the evening, I was quite taken with his voice from my previous viewings and had been itching to see him in the part after hearing such wonderful things from people who had already… and he didn’t disappoint. I found his voice and presence extremely powerful and loved every minute he was on stage, I’d happily follow him into any revolution!
We also had the alternate Eponiné, whose name unfortunately escapes me right now, but she did a fantastic job.
I digress, let’s start from the beginning!
Ramin was utterly sublime as Jean Valjean, and my good GOD he can act! From start to finish I believed every single note he sang: my favourite parts included the final part of ‘Who Am I?’ where he asks that immortal question one last time before belting ‘24601’!! His voice went all angry and growly and he wrenched his cravat off with such force that all I could think was ‘Woah, you don’t wanna mess with this guy!’ I thought it was so incredible how he managed to make such little gestures speak volumes. There was also the point where Eponiné screams at the Rue Plumet gate: Ramin’s ‘My God Cosette…’ gave me shivers and I was reminded of the fact that I love how ‘wholly’ Ramin gets into a role
Whenever I listen to him sing Ramin has a tendency to make me forget to breathe, in the nicest possible sense. There were numerous times where I had the shivers and was literally yelling: ‘Oh god, must he be so utterly, utterly divine??’ in my head whilst trying not to hold my breath so much. Such occasions included the entirety of Bring Him Home and the finale, where I sobbed lots too.
I was in complete fangirl heaven during the Confrontation, and became properly aware of how well his and Hadley’s voices blend together.
There aren’t enough adjectives anymore to describe how much I adore Hadley’s Javert. Found his last scene extra special because, for once I was part of an audience where everyone applauded- and it wasn’t ‘yay Javert’s dead’ applause, but ‘Wow, he’s fantastic’ applause.
Special mentions to Craig, Adam, Katy and Cameron( Marius, Bishop/Grantaire and the Thénardiers respectively) who are infinitely more fabulous every time I see them.
For the first time, I truly appreciated how two particular scenes are staged and the effect they have on me: I love how they all march in time during One Day More, and how the ABC lads enter as Marius sings Empty Chairs at Empty Tables, and when they leave you can just watch their shadows retreating, it’s beautifully simple.
Naturally, I clapped my hands sore and whooped myself hoarse during the curtain call, and there were also some funny moments here: Scott and our Gavroche went to give each other a high five after bowing and missed, and I noticed how Hadley seems to bounce into his place in line after taking his. There were sweet times between Ramin and Hadley too, they clapped each other on the back lots and little things like that
Stage Door was SO much fun. It was relatively empty, which I assume was down to the cold weather, but devoted fan that I am, I wanted to stick it out, and was SO glad I did.
I could see Hadley working his way down the rows, and again I turned into ‘happy bouncy Kerrie’ at just glimpsing his lovely smile from afar. Happy bouncy Kerrie went into overdrive when Hadley got to me as the first words from his mouth were:
‘KERRIE! Hello sweetheart, you made it!’ whilst drawing me into a huge hug and giving me a kiss; at which point I blushed like crazy and threatened to giggle like a school girl thereby embarrassing myself for all time, but luckily managed to turn this into a beaming smile: ‘Hi Hadley! Never mind me, you made it: I was worried, are you feeling better now?
Hadley chuckled: ‘Oh, I just had a very tired voice yesterday so I just slept’.
‘Well you sounded great to me, not tired at all!’
‘Bless you darling, thanks! So was that the first time you’ve been to see Ramin?’
‘As Valjean, yes’
‘What did you think?’
‘Oh he was superb, he made me cry!
Hadley laughed, ‘Aww!’
‘I know: I plan to tell him he turned me into a weeping mess, mind!’ Which made Hadley chuckle all the more, ‘He’s great isn’t he? I mean, he’s fantastic as the Phantom, but I think this role is made for him!’
I got the warm fuzzy feeling again from back at curtain call, it’s so amazing how much they respect each other and I love knowing what great friends they are.
I’d been clutching my brochure tightly, waiting for the right moment to ask: ‘Hadley, can I get…’
He cut me off, taking it from me: ‘Of course darling!’ He then proceeded to flick through the pages: ‘Let’s find one of me looking scowly, shall we?’
I got a little embarrassed here, ‘Sorry Hadley, I should have had it ready!’
‘No no darling, don’t you worry!’ I laughed quietly to myself as I heard him mutter ‘Come on Fraser!’ to himself as he searched.
He found one, scribbled away and handed it back to me, I smiled at the fact he’d put three kisses under his name and thanked him. I will not lose this signature for anything in the world now.
‘Right sweetheart I’m afraid I’ve got to run off now, but it was really nice to see you again!’ He said this whilst drawing me into another huge cuddle and giving me another kiss, so my ‘Likewise Hadley, thanks so much!’ was a bit muffled by his neck
I loved seeing my parent’s reaction to the encounter with Hadley, they were like: ‘Whoa, he KNOWS you!’ and I just said, ‘Yeah, twitter’
I finally got to say hi to Scott and congratulated him on an awesome performance, saying how much I’d been looking forward to seeing him in the role. He seemed genuinely humbled, he thanked me and took time to sign my brochure too, after he had to ask another girl for a pen after my mum took mine after Hadley left!
Craig was lovely too, I mentioned again how he was even better than previously which made him grin like a Cheshire cat: ‘Hurrah! Always improving, that’s good!’
I asked for his signature and he made me laugh: ‘Of course, let’s do it… over my face shall we?’ He didn’t exaggerate, his face is now covered in pen, you can just about make Marius out
We didn’t have to wait long for Ramin, but I loved watching him with other fans, he’s so kind and generous with his time, as are the entire cast.
‘Hello darling, nice to see you!’
Thanks Ramin, you too’ Queue his gorgeous smile which instantly put me at ease.
‘Did you enjoy it?’
‘Oh yes, you were superb, you made me cry!’
‘Thankyou! Aww bless you, it’s alright to cry y’know’
I blushed, nodding. ‘So, busy few weeks coming up I see?’
‘Yes m’am! I’m gonna go home soon and rest up, album’s out in a while!
‘Yup, I’ve pre-ordered, and am coming to Cardiff to see you.’
‘Aw thanks, darling. There’s gonna be a few surprises there, and we’ll have a hoe-down: I’m going to get my guitar out, play badly and sing along!’
We both laughed, ‘That’s fine by me, hoe-down’s are good!’ His eyes twinkled as the smile grew wider: ‘Good girl!’
I then handed him the brochure and he smiled warmly as I said: ‘I’ve got it on that page so you can be level with Hadley’ (whose picture was opposite).
Ramin grinned cheekily as he eyed Hadley’s Javert: ‘He’s SO MEAN TO ME!’ as we laughed and he scribbled away.
When he handed it back to me, I thanked him, slightly puzzled at the look on his face: ‘No worries darling… aren’t you cold?’ Bless him, he’s a worrier, I shrugged my shoulders, but assured him: ‘A little, but I’m ok, honest!’ I didn’t mean to make him worry, and was relieved to see the concern replaced by his lovely sunny smile. I thanked him and we said goodbye, I gave into cold as adrenaline left, needing to put my hoodie on, only to hear a voice coming up from around the corner: ‘Nice and warm now eh? Love that.’ It was Ramin
All four of us laughed and then Ramin did something so considerate that I’ll always thank him for: ‘You guys need a hand getting anywhere?’
This time, it was my mum’s turn to gush: ‘Oh no, we’re fine thanks!’ You wouldn’t believe how tempted I was to blurt out: ‘Well, actually…’
No pictures but I don’t mind, I had banter and fun with the lads that I wouldn’t change for the world, and can confirm that Hadley’s hugs and kisses are among the best: and third time is DEFINITELY a charm