You missed a sparkling gem, if you didn’t tune in to PBS’ retelecast of the 25th anniversary of the “Les Miserables” milestone concert at O2, last night (June 13) on TV. The mammoth Brit arena was converted into a massive stage to celebrate the show’s enduring popularity…originally in 2010.
Nonetheless, the screening stirred memories and recalled what an astounding score Alain Boublil and and Claude-Michel Schonberg created, based on the Victor Hugo novel. Simply, “Les Miz” is a show for all seasons — never out of fashion.
PBS first aired this one in October 2010 and the show remained a snapshot of a theatrical giant, whose popularity has not declined an iota.
The stellar cast brought back that galaxy of theatrical luminaries, significantly and resourcefully relying on the words and music that have made “Les Miz” a powerful evergreen. The actors donned costumes but let the poetry and poignancy of the score to re-tell the saga of the jailed protagonist who stole bread to feed his family and stalked by an irrepressible policeman who made it his life’s work to right what he felt was wrong.
With a cast of more than 300 and an orchestra that sounded like 300 and a chorus of extras donning T-shirts displaying the familiar face of little Cosette, “Les Miz” was pure theater.
Consider the who’s who in the ranks:
- Alfie Boe as Jean Valjean. A stunning tenor, who owned “Bring Him Home.”
- Norm Lewis as Javert. A powerful presence, with a conflicted agenda.
- Lea Salonga as Fantine. A gem from the get-go, delivering the role’s indelible “I Dreamed a Dream.”
- Nick Jonas as Marius. A bit reserved, as the lone survivor of the war, but possessing the necessary youthfulness.
- Ramin Karimloo, as Enjolras. A booming voice, and “One Day More”/”Do You Hear the People Sing” are his one-two take-away anthems.
- Samantha Barks, as Eponine. The love-stricken “boy” whose “On My Own” resonates the theme of sacrifice and commitment.
- Katie Hall as grown-up Cosette. Her heart was full of love, with cheer to spare.
- Matt Lucas and Jenny Galloway, as the Thenardiers. Masters of the house, and masters of comedic hi-jinx.
- Mia Jenkins as Young Cosette. Her “Castle on the Cloud” projected innocence and hope.
- Robert Madge as Gavroche. His “Little People” exuded the feistiness of a young, reliable soldier.
David Charles Abell conducted the orchestra with grandeur and control, shepherding the mass choruses and legendary actors to march to a uniform drum.
The stage was devoid of sets like the show’s famed barricade or the signature turntable of a conventional production, so the audience had to toss in their imagination to fill in the blanks. And Gavroche’s death, a moment of awe, was not part of the theatrics.
Watching on TV, “Les Miz” felt like real theater, a habit that had been halted since the start of the pandemic 16 months ago. So in households galore, “Les Miz” was a welcome visitor and perhaps a means to jump-start a visit to a real theater in the near future…
In the NCIS TV universe, filming starts here today (June 14) on CBS'”NCIS: Hawai’i.” If you encounter those filming and catering vans across the city in the weeks ahead, it’s likely to be the cast and crew of the latest franchise in the NCIS family. To the show’s creators and actors and techies, welcome to the islands. May your stay be fruitful. See ya’ in the fall, when the Hawai’i brand starts sharing its glow to the rest of the world…
Meanwhile, in the California-based show; Barrett Foa (Eric Beale) and Renee Felice Smith (Nell Jones) will not return in “NCIS: Los Angeles” next season. Instead, Gerald McRaney (Admiral Hollis Kilbride), introduced this year, will replace them in season 13. …
And Eric Christian Olsen (Marty Deeks), captured as “L.A.” wound up season 12, will return to the CBS procedural along with on-screen spouse Daniela Ruah (Kensi Blye). However, Olsen has another TV production ahead during the off-time: “Woke,” which is filming its second season as Olsen as an exec producer. …
And that’s “Show Biz.” …