I said last month that my Les Mis trip in March would be my last, and it came with the Matinee of the 10th. It was a bittersweet occasion, but my god what a way to go!
Enjoyed arriving at Queens: my mum was impressed by the theatre and in particular loved the chandelier, I was even recognised by a few of the staff who escort us to our seats. As with three of my previous trips, we were seated to the left side of the stage which I prefer generally as I think it gives you a better view of everyone’s facial expressions and all the little nuances every actor and actress adds to their role.
Before I go on my customary spiel about how amazing the leading men are, I’d like to give a very special mention to the Swings of the show. For those of you who may not know, the Swings of any musical have perhaps the most challenging job given that they have to learn a certain amount of roles and they never know which part they’ll have to play until showtime. They all do a superb job and have to learn 11 roles!
Having only been to evening performances previously, I was curious to see if there were any differences in the nature of the audience. We only had one batch of latecomers right at the beginning as the chain gang started doing their thing so that was a very minor gripe which went against all the stories I’d read about noisy disturbances. They laughed and got emotional in all the right places… and just for once I wasn’t the only person who jumped a mile at the gunshots! I giggled a little when Valjean let Javert go and fired the gun; a few of the guys just went ‘Woah!’ I think there were more than a few ‘newbies’, there was a chorus of shocked cries when our adorable Gavroche was killed, and many rounds of highly amused laughter during Master of the House.
What I also loved (and this may sound a little weird) was the fact that there seemed to be a little bit more variation in the delivery of lyrics: they changed the emphasis they gave to certain words in a line so as well as singing, there were moments were they just spoke a word without making it sound out of place. Does that make sense to anyone? No, me either!
*ALERT: THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPHS INCLUDE LOTS OF FANGIRLING*
Ramin Karimloo was superb yet again as JVJ. He has improved since last month in the sense that certain parts of his singing were perhaps more controlled, especially his ‘FLIIIIIGGGHT!!’ and ‘24601!!!’ He’s still a master at making those little nuances speak volumes, two especially stuck in my mind:
The Confrontation- Ah, the chair leg. As he held it out like his version of Javert’s baton to his adversary’s face, his eyes went all intense and angry and his stance was perfect, I genuinely for a few moments thought he was going to whack Hadley across the head with it.
I mentioned last time how Ramin made me cry, and for almost the entirety of the show I was able to sustain from weeping like a baby, so I was proud of myself. That’s not to say I wasn’t moved by his performance – on the contrary I still had the shivers on many occasions, and my usual ‘I should be breathing, but I’m concentrating too hard on this beautiful, talented man’ dilemma.
You’ll notice, being the observant people that you are, I used the phrase ‘almost’. Well, I was proud of myself. I didn’t cry for the whole of Bring Him Home, or when Fantine died. Then, during the epilogue Ramin spoke three little words: ‘I love you’.
Just before he died, he placed a hand on Cosette’s cheek, and whispered this to her. Mum had to shush me before I squealed at how beautiful and sad it was.
If you’ve read my previous blogs about my Les Mis trips, y’know I’ve got a lot of love for Adam Linstead. This has now increased tenfold having seen him as Thénardier, and I can say with the greatest of confidence that he is my favourite of the three Thénardiers I have seen, and most definitely the best. He reminded me of Fagin from Oliver in the way he carried himself and his comic timing is superb. Some of my favourite moments included:
His cheeky ‘Oi Oi!’ during Master of the House when Madam T was being crude, and in the very same scene where he channelled one of his usual characters and did a Grantaire style bow from on top of a chair. The Wedding was also hilarious: When they get rumbled for stealing the plates by the announcer, Adam let the audience giggle for the perfect amount of time, silence just for a beat, then: ‘It was ‘im!’
Hadley- As ever, fabulous. I swear his rendition of Stars gets better every single time. His Javert was my ‘constant’ in the show and I feel privileged for him to have that position. When the cast change this coming June I fear the fact that the stage might not hear from him in a while, but I look forward to seeing whatever he does after he hands over the baton.
It was mum first time seeing the show live, and I’m proud to say that she thoroughly enjoyed it…. and bawled her eyes out.
Had a blast at stage door as ever thanks to Craig, Adam, Hadley & Ramin. Craig recognised me from two previous encounters so we both grinned widely when we saw each other.
‘Hey! Back again I see… enjoy?
‘Naturally *jerking my thumb in the general direction of my parents who’d wandered away* ‘Mum did to, it was her first time and she was in bits, it’s usually me who cries!’ Craig laughed, I have a fantastic picture where I’m saying this and he’s looking in my mum’s direction with a cheeky expression on his face.
‘Ah excellent’ he said, rubbing a hand down his face with a sigh: ‘I can’t believe we’ve got to do it all again later!’
‘Oh god I know, how’s the energy? Still pumped?
‘Sure I’ll be alright after food. When you coming back then?’ When I told him I wasn’t sure if I was able to and had lots of other shows and stuff coming up, he just grinned and whispered with a glance at parents: ‘Well, I’m in till January now, ok?’ before winking and wandering off to say hi to the few others milling around.
I was pleased with myself as I’m usually not one to stop any of the cast if they’re looking to leave straight away (they don’t get much of a break between shows by the time they’re out of makeup etc) but I so wanted to tell Adam how much I enjoyed his performance. As soon as I called he was straight over:
*Looking at my T-shirt* ‘I’ll be at the barricades, if Javert asks. Now there’s dedication!’
‘Aha thanks, thought it’d go with my shoes’ (Was wearing my Les Mis Converse, Adam took a peek at them and grinned) ‘Great job as Thénardier by the way! I’ve had three of you, and you’re the best I’ve seen.’
‘Ah, thanks very much!’
‘Your Grantaire is awesome too’
‘Thanks, looking forward to getting back to Grantaire, though I feel like I’ve forgotten the part these past few weeks. Can’t be too hard though, it’s just generally being drunk… I’ll make it up as I go along, we’ll be alright!’
We both started chuckling, and he headed off with a last ‘nice to meet you’ and my ‘likewise!’
Next came Hadley. Again I felt very lucky to have been at such a quiet Stage Door, for he said his usual ‘Hey Kerrie!’ before coming round the railing to give me a cuddle. He stayed a fair while, and you’ll notice him casually leaning on said railing if you look at my photos, I love the way he just seemed so at ease with me.
‘Hiya Hadley, how’re you? (After I said this, I managed to land a quick kiss on his cheek… score!)
‘Fine thanks darling, did you enjoy?’
‘Oh of course!’
He smiled, ‘Last time up to see Ramin, then?’
‘Probably, had to come back and see you both, since we don’t yet know when there’ll be more Sheytoons awesomeness!
Hadley laughed, ‘Ah yes. Probably not for a while yet, what with Ramin being on tour’
Didn’t mean to pressure him or anything, but playfully said: ‘can’t be persuaded to tag along, can you?’
He laughed some more: ‘Maaaybe! Got my own stuff going on too, though! Speaking of Ramin, I think he’s coming now’ Sure enough, Ramin ambled up to us, and after exchanging my usual: ‘Hello sir, how are you?’ For a ‘good thanks sweetheart, you enjoy?’ and answering in the affirmative to smiles and thank yous all round, the fun really kicked off.
‘Stay there a minute Hadley; I’ve got something for you!’ Ramin smiled warmly as I handed the bag over, ‘Oh, what’ve we got here then Hadley?’
Hadley looked a little cross with me as I’d already left him something in November: ‘It’s not MORE treats?’
I just kept quiet, grinning. Hadley pulled the card from the bag with an excited ‘Look at this!’ turning to me, smiling at the size of it.
‘That’s for all of you, by the way, I just thought of Hadley first for the envelope… sorry Ramin!’
‘Oh pfft, don’t you worry! We’ll make sure everyone sees it.’
Hadley went to look in the bag by this point: ‘I’m going to be gargantuan by the time I finish here, I swear!’ (My inner literary geek went haywire: ‘he sings, plays guitar, acts AND has a love of big words?? God he is truly awesome!)
Ramin chimed in: ‘Guess we won’t be getting a look in at these, eh Hadley?’ The look they gave each other before they burst into laughter was priceless: Ramin’s eyes twinkled mischievously and Hadley just looked like: ‘What the hell?’
‘But I do share!’
Ramin giggled: ‘No, that was mean. He does, honest’ with a wink at me. I smiled back: ‘Oh good, I’ll check with him mind’ :p
We said a lovely goodbye: another cuddle from Hadley and a ‘Thankyou darling’ from Ramin when I said I’d see him in May.
Three Valjeans. Two Eponine’s. Two Enjolras. Three Thénardiers…………… and a shed load of memories 😀