I was having super-mixed emotions last night.
On one hand, I was ecstatic. The dream that I’ve had since I was a teenager finally came true: I got to see my all-time favorite musical Les Misérables in the flesh.
Ever since Les Miz was staged by Repertory Philippines way back in the 90s and I missed it (mainly because I was still a student at the time), I swore to myself that if ever it will be re-staged here, I wouldn’t dare miss it for the world. Or, if I get the chance to go to New York and/or London, it’s definitely going to be on top of my itinerary. But since the last option has become nearly impossible (actually, it’s possible; I just couldn’t afford it hahaha), I just had to wait for it to be done again in Manila.
Two decades plus after, here it is. And it’s not a local production.
So how was it? Well, for starters: at the last note of One Day More, I burst into tears.
Rachelle Ann Go as Fantine is AMAZING. Her voice has improved by leaps and bounds, although that certain ‘thing’ (vocal inflection) she does is still there. Her acting is solid, as well. I got goosebumps and teary eyes at Fantine’s death scene (this is not a spoiler).
Simon Gleeson as Jean Valjean definitely did not disappoint. My peg for Valjean has always been Colm Wilkinson, and my gauge is if the actor playing Valjean would be able to nail the soft parts of Bring Him Home. On that part, Gleeson nailed it.
But the REAL star of Les Miz Manila for me is Earl Carpenter as Javert. He makes me want to NOT watch the Les Miz movie again because I will cry when Russel Crowe shows up and murders Stars once again. Carpenter was just fabulous. Javert’s death scene (again, not a spoiler) got the most thunderous applause of the night apart from One Day More.
As for the disappointing parts: well, Marius and especially Cosette. Marius may have suffered in comparison because my peg for that character is Michael Ball and to quote my friend Rizza’s FB comment, Michael Ball is just too high of a peg for Marius. I tried lowering it to Eddie Redmayne, or ok… Nick Jonas. To be fair, Paul Wilkins’ take on Marius isn’t as bad as Nick Jonas’.
As for Emily Langridge as Cosette: she makes me want to watch Amanda Seyfried again. Ok, maybe not. But close.
Kerrie Anne Greenland as Eponine is vocally good, but she lacks depth in the acting department. One of my most anticipated scenes in Les Miz is A Little Fall of Rain because I cried just listening to it when I got the OST decades ago. It was so flat and hurried at this show. Then again, my ultimate peg for this number is the version by THE Michael Ball and THE Lea Salonga. Who can top that???
Mssr. and Mmme. Thenardier: Mssr. was ok – his funny parts hit the mark – but Mmme. was, again, lacking for me because I got so used to Jenny Galloway nailing that part every time. Even Helena Bonham Carter does not hold a candle in comparison to Ms. Galloway.
Special mention goes to the kids: Cosette, Eponine and especially Gavroche. I wish I had kids as talented as these three.
Performances aside, the production aspect of this show is more than enough reason for anyone not to miss it. It’s so worth your money. The set design, lighting, props, choreography… my jaw dropped more than 10x in the entire duration of the nearly 3-hour show. It’s like watching people do random magic tricks while singing and acting. It’s THAT amazing.
So yeah. Les Misérables Manila? Totally worth the six tickets I paid for. Even my sibs and the kids enjoyed it.
And now, for the ‘bitter’ part:
I bought my tickets for Les Misérables last year. Therefore, the announcement that Alden Richards’ first solo concert will be on the same date as my Les Miz night was the single most depressing news I received in a long, long time.
I’m not bitter that I wasn’t there, per se. I’m bitter because I wasn’t able to cover this momentous event in Alden’s career. Also, I’m bitter that I did not personally witness him do this:
(Original video from ALDENatics Rizal. I just re-uploaded on YouTube because Twitter media embeds do not work on my blog platform.)
According to my fellow Alden INTL members who were there, Alden acknowledged our group three times last night. I already saw two different instances on social media. Yes, it might sound too shallow (or lame, depending on who you’re talking with) because it’s just a mere mention (three times, in case you’ve missed it) but if you know how things were in the Alden fandom before Alden International was launched, you would know why we’re rejoicing over this.
Remember when I wrote this rant (masquerading as Random Thoughts) about the Alden fandom two months ago? To be perfectly honest, I never knew at the time that the day would come when everything that I pointed out on that blog entry will be addressed by Alden himself.
Alden knows more than one fan club now. He acknowledges everyone. In fact, he acknowledges everyone that he even thanks MAINE fan clubs, too.
Actually, last night was not the first instance that it happened. Remember this “history-making” incident that I wrote on the final paragraph of my previous blog entry but I cannot elaborate until after Holy Week? I was talking about Alden recognizing more than one fan club during a milestone in his career. We’ll have to wait until Easter Sunday before we can formally post the resibo but believe me, it was such a momentous experience that we couldn’t get over it even days after.