A video reportage about the show with lots of performance footage:
Unfortunately the story does nothing to me, I can't really relate to any of the characters and their problems. Besides, the musical is too explicitly moving for my taste: all that dying in a lonely spotlight after a miserable life and a heartbreaking solo feels too emphasized and calculated for me, like they'd be flashing a "Cry, bastard, cry!!!" neon sign in front of me, which just leaves me cold. (Yes, I also roll my eyes at films like Titanic.) There's too much pathos and squeezing out feelings for my taste.
One problem is also the length of the musical. Especially the Thenardier scenes feel too stretched and like telling the same joke over and over again, even though all the actor pairs I've seen have been excellent. The source material (ie. The Brick, as fans lovingly seem to call Hugo's novel) is too long to be covered easily in a musical, which leaves me with the feeling that they've had to rush through the plot, and the character development and depth has had to be sacrificed. Being the story-oriented person I am, it disturbs me. I don't really like the musical as a whole, but it has enjoyable moments, nice songs and scenes that work well.
I've also learned to like some the music, especially the ensemble songs, though Bring Him Home is still on the top of my dislike list. I must admit Géza Egyházi's rendition was beautiful, though, but still the song is too slow and painfully high.
|Zoltán Miller & Réka Koós|
The production was a non-replica, but the directing felt a bit idea-lacking, though technically there was nothing wrong with it and I liked some details. It just annoyed me how everything was explained and ready-chewed and I didn't have anything to think about. Like, there was a text "Building the barricade" projected on the stage and after that we saw, well, the building of the barricade. Some scenes later the projected text was "The barricade" and we were shown a very clear and barricade-ish barricade. No shit, Sherlock? Generally the director was simply showing what happens in a way that didn't leave much room for your imagination.
The sets also showed us everything, every brick wall and gate and tree and building. The sets were elaborate and some of the scenes were very impressing and beautiful, but there were too many set pieces, props and moving parts, and after a while the constant re-arranging of the stage and changing of sets started to steal attention from the actual story and broke the atmosphere. I've usually liked Kentaur's set designs, but Miss Saigon and now Les Mis were a bit disappointing.
|Géza Egyházi & Andrea Mahó|
I saw two different casts, though Géza Egyházi was Jean Valjean on both times. The cast I saw on the first night was rather horrible, and I'm ashamed to admit it but kept checking my watch to see when the badly sung and dragging story would finally end. Luckily on the second night the bad choices had been replaced with better actors and the evening included much less watch-checking.
Jean Valjean - I'm not exactly the fangirling type of person (anymore?), but ever since I saw Géza Egyházi as Count von Krolock in Tanz der Vampire, he has been one of those names that lure me to see shows I otherwise perhaps wouldn't. So far I haven't been disappointed, and his Jean Valjean was no exception. I sometimes have the feeling that JV is confusingly naïve and easily fooled by people like the Thenardiers, but Géza!JV had more guts. I still don't get much out of the character, but at least I was fairly interested in his fate and even felt a bit moved in JV's death scene. Needless to say, I also enjoy his voice greatly.
Javert - Gábor Péter Vincze as Javert didn't impress me at all. He sounded harsh, didn't hit the right notes, didn't act that much and had zero chemistry with JV. He's apparently a big name in Hungary, so either he had a really really bad night or he's highly overrated. Zoltán Miller, on the other hand, was heavenly as Javert. He had a lovely warm baritone that blended nicely with Géza Egyházi's voice, and the men had chemistry with each other and made the story between JV and Javert much more interesting than on the day before. Besides, Miller is rather handsome. :-P
|Szandra Fejes, Péter Puskás & Attila Pál|
Marius - Péter Puskás was the positive exception in the first show. His voice is a bit pop-band-like, but I really liked his Marius. He seemed quite introverted, thinking and mature, and he very clearly had his doubts about the whole revolution thing right from the start but his loyalty to his friends (or something) made him join them anyway. His bitterness in Empty Chairs was touching. Péter Orth in the second show wasn't very special or interesting and his voice was even more breathy and pop-style, but he might attract someone who likes cute pop boys.
Cosette - Andrea Mahó was Cosette on both nights and I definitely didn't complain. The woman has an angelic voice, she suited the role well and didn't make Cosette annoying though she was innocent and, well, Cosette-ish. I've also seen her as Christine in PotO and liked her, she doesn't make the roles overnaïve.
Eponine - Nóra Trokán, the first night's Éponine, was another sad case of missed notes, but at least she acted quite nicely. Again, Zsazsa Réthy in the next evening sang much better.
The Thenardiers - Both Teréz Csombor & László Sirkó and Szandra Fejes & Attila Pál were entertaining and slimy, though as I said, I feel the roles are too big.
|The barricade boys|
After the first performance I was afraid of how I'd ever manage to sit through the show a second time next evening. Without Géza Egyházi, Péter Puskás and Andrea Mahó I might have fallen asleep. Luckily the second evening was much better and interesting, and I left the theatre with the feeling that I might even want to see this cast again.
Photo gallery one and two
A photo gallery in Facebook