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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Les Miserables vs Phantom 25th anniversary

Just for fun I decided to compare Les Miserables with the Phantom of the Opera 25th anniversary editions.  When things get stressful I like to withdraw into the bliss of music and stories.  And since I have a bunch of other blogs (see cwsshows.blogspot.com and havenofdarkness.blogspot.com) I can throw random thoughts into this one.

Les Mis has played to 55 million people around the world, in 42 countries and sung in 21 different languages.  It's huge!  It's emotional with tremendous impact.  And it released the 25th anniversary show.

Okay, fist off there some of the cast: Lea Salonga (omg!), Alfie Boe (omg!), Katie Hall, Matt Lucas, Samantha Barksand, Ramin Karimloo (omg!!) and Nick Jonas (wut?)

A musical/broadway star needs to have these traits in my opinion:

1. Acting ability
2. Singing ability
3. Movement ability (dancing for instance)

For the most part the 25th anniversary cast of Les Miserables had these traits but there was something just a bit off for each performance.  For Lea she was singing with emotion but I was distracted, comparing her to her 10th anniversary performance.  Alfie is an amazing opera singer turned broadway.  He sings effortlessly but it didn't have the emotional impact as Colm's performances did.  Ramin is amazing amazing amazing but omg they cast him as Enjolras where he dies.  And that brings me to Nick Jonas who was absolutely weak as Marius.  After all the young performers die in Les Mis there is a brief time when Nick has to carry the show on his shoulders (Empty Chairs).  And maybe he was taking direction to sing in a lungless, emotionless way but he was the weakest link easily.

Perhaps a measure of the show lies in the fact that I repeat the encore parts where the original cast return to sing instead of watching the main performances in the show. 

Then the Phantom of the Opera 25th anniversary show.  The cast features my two favorite singers: Sierra Boggess and Ramin Karimloo.  Biss!

The sets are breath taking.  The colors used are perfect in creating mood.  The audience was immersed as part of the show.  Then the performances were so emotion filled, so powerful.  Sierra and Ramin live up to my high expectations of them.   I can't get enough of the Blu-Ray.  

Get the shows on the highest definition sound you can (so Blu-Ray over DVD).  Buy the CD to get a lossless audio format (iTunes uses AAC audio format. (Advanced audio codec) which is lossy and no lossy can beat a lossless audio recording).

The encore bits of the Phantom 25th are, in contrast to Les Mis, not as good as the production itself.  They try too hard to evoke an emotion and when they break into a beautiful rendering of Music of the Night, it came across as a overdone "He's a Jolly good fellow".

If I had to recommend one over the other I'd go with Phantom.  Lots of vibrato (almost too much) in Phantom though but I love it.  At least it's not professional shouting that music "singing" (even in broadway) is becoming.  The performances are more emotion filled, the audience doesn't break into long claps after each song, the sets and costumes are much more beautiful.  And there's no Nick Jonas scenes to skip over.

See this clip (finale though -- spoils the rest of the show)

I can't wait until the Blu-Ray release Love Never Dies!!  MAY 29TH