Club 24601

All posts tagged Club 24601

Number four in this year’s Alfie Boe Best Ever Song poll is a non mover from 2015 which means that it is time for Alfie’s most famous song, Bring Him Home (thanks Alfie for sharing):

Appropriately, the number four position in the 2016 poll coincides with the week that Les Mis celebrates its 31st birthday – Happy Birthday Les Mis!  And additionally, a Les Mis medley to include Bring Him Home is the lead track on Alfie’s forthcoming duet album with Michael Ball.

One of the reasons for the first best song poll was to showcase songs other than Bring Him Home and as the long list of nearly forty songs shows, I think we’ve done that.  Of course the problem with that is I find it really difficult to write anything at all about Bring Him Home.   So, instead of my thoughts, let’s go back to what Alfie said about it in his autobiography:

It is such a spiritual song, it’s so special.  When Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil wrote it they must have been so excited…It is a prayer, it’s actually called The Prayer, it’s not officially called Bring Him Home and I treat it as such every time I sing it.  I pray.  That’s what makes it work.

Interestingly, when I interviewed Alfie for the Club 24601 series in 2015, although he mentioned Bring Him Home as being a great song, he actually picked the Soliloquy as the song with the greatest emotional and vocal range.

Alfie’s autobiography, My Story, is available here:

alfie autobio

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Yes it was, a very good year for thoughtsofjustafan and for Alfie Boe too.  If I asked Alfie, his 2015 highlights might include Classic Quadrophenia and Les Mis on Broadway but I’m sure meeting loads of adoring fans at various UK and US concerts would also be right up there with the best moments.

For me, 2015 has been a series of fabulous moments one after the other – I can’t possibly choose one as the best although the first three on the list would certainly be competing for the top spot!

  • Interviewing Alfie for Classic Quadrophenia.
  • Interviewing Alfie again for the first in the Club 24601 series.
  • Chatting to Alfie at Somerset House and hearing him tell me that he reads thoughtsofjustafan…if Nikki Lewis hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t have believed it!
  • Seeing my Classic Quad review from the Huffington Post quoted in a proper newspaper (the Guardian). The thank you from Alfie when I interviewed him shortly after was pretty special too. classic quad review
  • Addio Sogni di Gloria being voted the Best Alfie Boe Song (recorded) – last year’s favourite, Bring Him Home was number 4.
  • Taking my 9yo to Alive @Delapre for his first Alfie concert and hearing the stand out Alfie song from 2015, Run:

  • The Club 24601 series of interviews, beginning with Alfie and culminating with the current London JVJ, Peter Lockyer.
  • Interview with David Steadman, of the D’oyly Carte Opera Company and hearing about Alfie’s very first tour as a professional singer.
  • Finding out that the fan’s favourite Alfie Boe look is jeans, the tighter the better!  Alfie in a suit was a (very) close runner up.
  • Alfie in Les Miserables on Broadway – hearing the amazing reviews and happy fans was the next best thing to being there myself.

Thank you to everyone for reading and supporting thoughtsofjustafan – I really appreciate the time you take to comment on and share.  In February this year we passed 30,000 hits and thanks to all you wonderful readers, we have now more than tripled that number – woohoo!

Thank you too for all the wonderful compliments you have sent over the year, you are all very kind.

Of course, I can’t let 2015 pass without thanking some extra special people who have continued to support me and thoughtsofjustafan:

Thanks to Debbie Bannigan for giving me the best gift anyone can ever receive; belief and confidence that I can achieve whatever I want to.  Without your support, this blog would not exist.

Thanks to Linda Wellington for continually providing me with photos and videos and allowing me to use them.  Thank you also for all the laughs along the way this summer – and for ferrying us to Northampton!

Thanks to Carole Hunt for continuing to allow me to use her photo for the main blog banner.

Thanks to everyone who allows me to use their videos here – Nikki, Jayne, Annie in particular.

Thanks to Roberta Kappus and Carole Hunt for being fabulous reviewers this year – I hope to be able to call on you again lovely ladies!

Thanks to Sue Black, Linda Anstee and Marie Blair for being my top social media sharers this year – thanks for spreading the word!

Thanks to my top commenters in 2015 – Linda McCann, Sue Redfern and Carole Naden.  Love hearing from you!

Lastly, thank you to everyone who spoke to me at concerts this year and said they loved my blog – I love doing it!  Special thanks to the super posse of friends who, amongst others, made it extra special this year: Linda A and Linda W, Sally, Cecelia and Cassie (I’ll never forget your comments while waiting for the ladies at Hampton Court!), Paul and Pauline, Jan, Carole H, Sue, Pam and Tina, Nikki, Annie, Pauline H, Pat and Janet, Jayne, Deb and Flo.

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The end of the Club 24601 series is upon us and this week we feature the current London Jean Valjean, and the one who gave me the title, Peter Lockyer.  Although Lockyer was the first JVJ I spoke to, I left him until last in order to bookend with the current Broadway JVJ, Alfie Boe (Boe was our very first featured Club 24601 interviewee but the last to actually be interviewed!).  It just seemed apt.

Lockyer, it turns out, has considerable history with Les Mis but not on these shores.  His first Les Mis role was Marius in the 10th anniversary Broadway production and he also took this role when the show premiered in China – Colm Wilkinson was JVJ.  Roll forward a further ten years and Lockyer was directing an amateur production of Les Mis in Hawaii and there was considerable difficulty in not only casting but also retaining, an actor in the starring role so Lockyer took up the challenge.  Thus it was in an amateur production that he first played JVJ.  Shortly after this, Lockyer was approached by the Les Mis team with a view to playing JVJ on the 25th anniversary US tour and possibly in Toronto.  As we know, Toronto didn’t happen (the role went to Ramin Karimloo) but he was cast in the 25th anniversary tour and played in over fifty cities all over the USA.  The tour finished, life went on and then Cameron Mackintosh asked Lockyer to sing for him on Broadway – the audience also included Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil, both of whom Lockyer had known and worked with in Miss Saigon amongst other projects.  He was then offered the part in London and is now well into his second year as JVJ.  Recently, Lockyer sang with John Owen-Jones, Geronimo Rauch and Colm Wilkinson at the 30th anniversary gala performance:

Locker says that the role of JVJ is “the best role in musical theatre – it goes through so much of life, everything is there on the stage”.  However, the iconic nature of the role and the music means that it can be quite daunting to think about.  To combat this, Lockyer tries to empty his mind of everything but JVJ before he steps on stage in order that the audience “only sees the story, not Peter Lockyer playing the role”.    Along with everyone else interviewed, Lockyer enthuses about the incredible score and how it has the power to move people just as much today as it did when it first opened.  In Lockyer’s words, “you can’t hear the opening chords of the show and not feel something”.

Aside from the comment about the role being too daunting if you thought about it too much, there is nothing that Lockyer dislikes about the show.  He also found it difficult to choose a favourite moment, plumping instead for all the little moments on stage such as Drink with Me for being part of the ensemble and the epilogue because it is so moving.

Thank you to all the Club 24601 participants – I’ve really enjoyed this series of interviews and listening to all the various versions of Bring Him Home.  Yes, I do have a favourite (after Alfie of course!) but I’m not going to tell you yet!  Please do leave a comment though to tell me your favourite.

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The penultimate week of our Club 24601 series (I’ll have to find something else to write about now!) and we’re on to a Jean Valjean I saw in Melbourne in 2014.  Simon Gleeson has also recently been confirmed as JVJ for the new Les Mis production in Manila for 2016.

Gleeson initially came to the role through a regulation casting experience – he went through five rounds of auditions before ending up in front of Cameron Mackintosh and then it was another week or so before the role was offered to him.  He remembers the time as being very exciting as “there was a great buzz around the show as we hadn’t had it there for eighteen years”.  The production was also very different as the Australian Les Mis is the same as that on Broadway.  I saw this show with a fellow Alfie’s Arrow, Margie, her husband, Troy and fabulous (non Alfie) friends Erin and Rob and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Margie and Troy will, no doubt, be seeing the show again when it visits Brisbane shortly.

Gleeson says that he was initially overwhelmed” in the role but this quickly subsided and he relaxed more and more into it,  something that will surely help him when he opens the show in Manila next year.  Multiple opening nights (the Australian show is a touring production) must surely help with this.

In common with some of the other interviewees, Gleeson’s most enjoyable aspect of the role is sharing the scope of the story with an audience.  As he says, it’s “nice to share a lifetime” with the audience although inevitably, that is also the most challenging part of the show too.

Although all the JVJ’s named Bring Him Home as the most challenging and best song to sing in the show, only a couple, including Gleeson, didn’t choose a second favourite.  Here is Gleeson’s version, Bring Him Home starts at 2.20:

As far as having a favourite song by another character, Gleeson joined Peter Karrie in choosing Empty Chairs and Empty Tables.  A very moving song, particularly coming where it does in the show.

Thank you to Simon Gleeson and Les Mis Oz for arranging this interview. Next week sees the last in our Club 24601 series and we end with the current London JVJ, Peter Lockyer.

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Club 24601 is still going strong and this week’s Jean Valjean fact is that this week’s interviewee is not only the only Belgian to take the role in London but he also came back twice to play Javert!

Hans Peter Janssen is one of the longest serving JVJ’s, doing three years (consecutively) from 2000 – 2003.  Before that, he played JVJ in the Belgian production of Les Mis from 1998 – 1999 which stood him in good stead when it came audition for the London production.

As Janssen played the role for a long time there must have been things he liked more than others and he said that one of his favourite parts was the ageing involved: “I found it challenging to build in growing older during the performance, vocally, physically and emotionally”.   When asked about the downsides he didn’t hesitate to say the back problems caused by, amongst other things, carrying Marius around as he said “not all Mariuses are lightweights”!  Major back surgery was required, necessitating a two and a half month back from the role.

As already mentioned, one of Janssen’s favourite parts of the show was the ageing and he says that the longer he was in the role, the more he came to understand the more mature JVJ and consequently, his approach became much more mature.  Leading on from this, his favourite song to sing in the show is Bring Him Home, which of course was the answer given by all the members of Club 24601 (although most also chose a second favourite).  In the following video you can see how much he immerses himself in the song:

Janssen’s favourite song by another character is Javert’s suicide because of the drama involved – and I guess that having played both roles, he is uniquely placed to know!  The following video is audio only but features Janssen singing Javert’s masterpiece, Stars:

Since leaving the show, Janssen has continued to perform in musicals around Europe, mostly in Belgium and the Netherlands.  He will shortly be in Lilies.

Next week’s Club 24601 is Geronimo Rauch.

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Week five in our study of Jean Valjean over the last thirty years and we come to our earliest and only original cast member, Dave Willetts.  Willetts was in the ensemble at the Barbican and also understudied Colm Wilkinson, taking over the role when Wikinson went off to the Broadway production.

Although I enjoyed interviewing all the JVJ’s for this series of posts, one of the most fascinating was with Willetts due to his extraordinary back story.  I was completely unaware that until a chance meeting with the artistic director of the Belgrade Theatre, Willetts was happily enjoying life as an engineer, only performing in amateur productions.  As he tells it, he had no ambitions to be a professional actor or singer, he just relaxed by performing in amateur dramatics and singing with  a jazz trio, in a dance band and in folk clubs.  However, that changed when he was offered an audition for a professional production of Annie which was successful and he was then cast in the chorus.  Twelve months on from that, he attended an open audition for Les Mis, was called back for a second audition, which was lucky for Willetts as he only went to the first one in the hope of seeing Trevor Nunn who wasn’t there.  Happily, he was there for the second audition, as were the writers, who upon hearing him sing Lucky Be A Lady, then handed him the music to the soliloquy and said ‘away you go with that’.  He was of course cast and went on to play amongst other West End roles, the Phantom.  Since then, he has appeared in the the 10th anniversary Sydney production and directed many schools productions.

Willetts remembers the whole experience, from the rehearsals to the performances themselves, as being the best bits of the show.  Creating the show from the ground up was exciting, meeting Pavarotti backstage was even more so.  Singing Bring Him Home was again special, as Willetts says “those bottle moments, those moments you put away in a bottle and every now and again you take the cork out and look at them”.  All these moments ensured that the rest of his career happened, singing with Tony Bennett for example would never have happened without Les Mis.

As with all the other interviewees, I asked Willetts about the worst aspects of JVJ or any disasters that has befallen him.  His response was “how long have you got?  In the early days there were loads” which I suppose is typical of a new production, especially one that used a revolving stage.  One of Willetts’ most memorable disasters was the stage getting stuck at the end of the barricade scene and all the dead actors who were supposed to get off stage without being seen had to get up and walk off in full view of the audience.  Far from ruining the show though, these experiences enhanced the entire evening for the audience.  As Willetts says, it’s the “beauty of live theatre”.

Along with Alfie Boe, Dan Koek, Peter Karrie and Geronimo Rauch, Willetts’ favourite song to sing in the show is the soliloquy and broadly for the same reason: the journey of the character within the song.  Willetts said “there’s not many roles written like that”.  Uniquely, Willetts’ favourite song by another character is Master of the House because of where it comes in the show and it’s a “barnstormer” in Willetts’ words.

Willetts has recently played God in the tour of Love Beyond, the complete story of the bible and as he said to me “there’s nowhere to go from there”!  However, he has also co-written a couple of musicals, J’accuse, (the life of Emile Zola) and The Man Inside, an adaptation of Jekyll and Hyde.   His most recent album, Once in A Lifetime, features songs from both these.

Next week’s Club 24601 JVJ is Hans Peter Janssen.

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Fourth in our series of Club 24601 interviews is our earliest Jean Valjean so far, Peter Karrie.  As well as JVJ, Peter is most associated with the title role of Phantom of the Opera, a distinction he shares with three other JVJ interviewees (John Owen-Jones, Geronimo Rauch and Dave Willetts).  He is also the second Welshman in succession to feature in our Club 24601, following John Owen-Jones last week.

Peter first played JVJ from 1986 for three years and returned twice more.  He first got the role after auditioning whilst appearing in the first national tour of Evita.  The musical director of the show went to see Rebecca Storm in Liverpool (where Evita was at the time) with a view to casting her as Fantine.  Upon seeing Peter in Evita, he also asked him to audition and he duly did, around the piano in the foyer of a Liverpool hotel.  He then repeated the process on the stage of the Palace theatre in London and was cast a week later.  During all this time he had not met Cameron Mackintosh and when  he did finally meet him, on his opening night, it was a rather unfortunate meeting to say the least.  After the show, Peter was in his dressing room with his family when there was a knock at the door and this man stood there telling Peter how much he had enjoyed the show and invited him to dinner.  Peter politely declined…only finding out the next day that the man was Cameron!

As the most experienced JVJ in this series of interviews, I asked Peter how his approach changed each time he revisited the role.  He said that it was like “slipping back into a pair of old slippers because I got on so well with the role”.  When he first took on the role and was in rehearsals, the role just wouldn’t click; something just wasn’t right until one day he found the inspiration.  After a particularly bad journey, in the rain, Peter said that “he walked into rehearsals trudging along” and that’s when he realised that the key to his portrayal would be a heavy footed trudge, “walking as if he was pulling a truck behind him”.  That was the key to Valjean’s character.

Obviously, with such a long run as JVJ, there would be many other cast changes and new actors to work closely with.  One actor who really sparked with Peter was Philip Quast, who in Peter’s words was “the best Javert I ever worked with”, although if you had been present in their first ever rehearsal, you might be forgiven for wondering how it would turn out.  Peter described to me how after a while in the role he had his own way of doing things and Quast came in and made it abundantly clear that he had his own ideas about the relationship between the two characters which led to some interesting rehearsal moments but some fabulous moments for the production.  The confrontation in the sewer, where Javert eventually stands to one side to let JVJ and Marius pass, was one such moment: in rehearsal, Quast was adamant that Peter would have to force his way past, whereas Peter was equally adamant that it was not right for the character and the story.  Quast eventually came round to Peter’s way of thinking and Javert continued to move aside at the vital moment.

In common with all the actors I interviewed, Peter mentioned the amazing score as the best thing about the role; it was challenging both musically and as an actor, “a very satisfying role”. This is reflected in his choice of favourite song, which (apart from the obligatory Bring Him Home) is the soliloquy.  Peter said that “musically, dramatically, everything was in that song”.  He went on to say that the role was “always emotional.  I never cried during the show even though I could hear the audience sobbing, crying but at the end of the show I would burst into tears, every time.”

Given that Peter is our longest serving JVJ, I couldn’t resist the temptation to ask about any disasters or funny moments that occurred in the show and he obligingly told me about “one Javert who made me corpse”.  After one cart scene, just before JVJ launches into Who Am I?, the Javert in question, turned his back in the audience, clicked his heels together and was supposed to then make his exit.  He did make his exit but not before he said (knowing full well that only Peter could hear him) “if you don’t have that cart moved, I’ll have it clamped”.  Peter said he laughed so much he had to feign a coughing fit and ran off stage to compose himself!

Lastly, Peter’s favourite song by another character was Empty Chairs and Empty Tables as it’s a “very poignant, very emotive song”.

Here is Peter singing in Les Mis Medley from 2011:

Club 24601 returns next week with an original cast member, Dave Willetts.

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As you know, here on thoughtsofjustafan I like to bring you new music from time to time and this is one of those times!  This week, I featured an interview with former Jean Valjean Dan Koek as part of the Club 24601 series and as he’s a lovely bloke he kindly gave me a free track to share with my lovely readers (that’s you, in case you’re wondering!) so click here to get it before the offer goes away.

In order to bring you this free track I partnered with Angry Baby who alongside Dan, featured an up and coming artist on her blog this week.  I listened to his music and I liked it a lot so here is Angry Baby’s review of Robb Murphy:

A couple of weeks ago I found a message in my Angry Baby twitter account from Robb Murphy, inviting me to listen to his music. I clicked the link without any great expectations for what I would hear, but within a few seconds I was captivated by his sound. My little sister, who is not known for being particularly engaged with music, even began to fairy dance around the room, so I knew that this was an artist that I needed to hear more from and share with you.

I reached out to Robb, who told me a bit about his music and his influences.

Although Robb’s music has a traditional feel and rhythm to it that must come from his Irish heritage, he told me that he takes inspiration from “normal day to day life, the ups the downs we all go though, and always try to have a positive element in them”.

He went on to explain that he is influenced by nature and his surroundings, both his home in Northern Ireland and elsewhere. He was lucky enough to write much of his current album in a small town in Tuscany, which provides an opportunity to explore the contrast to those influences from album to album. Since Robb is an artist whose music is worth spending time with, I am looking forward to spotting where Ireland meets Italy in his music.

Here is a video of Robb’s new single Headstrong for you to listen to. Robb explained that Headstrong is taken from his current album, Sleep Tonight and describes the video:

“The video is a glimpse into my crazy head; people dressed in animal costumes who stage a break out from a zoo and are chased around by the zoo keeper getting up to mischief along the way.” Now that has to be worth taking a look at!

The song Headstrong is about keeping your focus, not getting distracted and sticking to your goals, so take a listen, and maybe try out your own fairy dance!

Robb’s musical influences are varied. He explained that “lyrics draw me in mostly, even more so if with an emotive melody. And I love a good upbeat pop song too. Bands like U2, REM, Del Ametri, Bon Iver, Counting Crows, and singer songwriters like Paddy Casey, Damien Rice, Ben Howard and Ryan Adams. I also love 60s and Motown and I am a vinyl collector!”

The reference to a preference for vinyl makes even more sense when you realise that Robb has a background as a producer and engineer, which may also explain the beautiful, melodic arrangements and attention to detail that shine through in his recordings.

Robb is currently touring in the Netherlands and returns to Northern Ireland for two scheduled performances early in November. I’ll certainly be keeping a look out for any more dates across the UK as he is an artist that I would love to hear ‘live’. I’ll keep you posted if I hear from him!

Finally, here is Robb’s advice for anyone who is just starting out with music:

Love what you do, create what you are proud of, don’t get too influenced by other current music, and write / play as much as you can. If your music happens to catch a few ears along the way that is great, but for me it is secondary. Music is a good way to express creativity and to meet like minded people so just keep at it and rewards will come!

If you like Robb’s music, Angry Baby has a FREE track available so don’t forget to click here to go through and claim your free track.  It’s fab!

Thank you to Flo at Angry Baby for allowing me to re-blog and share Robb’s music.

Les Mis has passed it’s 30th anniversary date and we are continuing to celebrate Club 24601 with our series of interviews with former Jean Valjeans.  This week, it’s the turn of Australian Dan Koek who played the role in 2013-2014.

Dan first heard about the possibility of playing JVJ in early 2013 when he was back in Australia getting ready to reprise his South Pacific role in Melbourne and Sydney.  After an initial meet and greet audition, he then went through a total of nine auditions before he finally landed the role.  However, he first served his JVJ apprenticeship as he calls it, starting in the ensemble for twelve weeks before the creative team were sure he would be ok in the role.  Dan says that there were “a lot of notes after each performance” but after the first month or so he relaxed into the role more and that he just had to “make my own decisions about how to play the role”.  Fans have their favourite JVJ but Dan found he couldn’t think about that although he was sometimes conscious of following on from other stars.

In common with all the other JVJ actors I spoke to, Dan said that the best thing about the role was the “sheer exhilaration of singing that amazing score everyday.  I never tired of it.”  However, also in common with the other actors, the amazing score was also the worst thing about the role.  Dan comments “the pressure is always to be amazing, especially if you’re tired…it can start to eat away at you”.

When I started this series of interviews I wanted to know how similar the experiences of being JVJ would be, in particular, would they all choose the same song as their favourite?  Apart from Bring Him Home, of course, named as the “pressure song” by Dan, the most popular favourite song was the soliloquy.  In Dan’s case he chose it as it was “very satisfying from both an acting and singing point of view”.  On one occasion, however, the soliloquy was definitely not a good moment; in his first couple of weeks as JVJ, Dan was pretending to eat the bread before the soliloquy when a crumb shot up his nose and lodged in the back of his throat.  To his horror, the crumb stayed there and audience members may have been impressed by the emotion apparently shown by the tears streaming down his face when in fact, it was just that piece of bread!

In terms of favourite songs by other characters, Dan chose Eponine’s On My Own, mainly because of the incredible voice of his Eponine, Carrie Hope Fletcher. That is also my favourite song of the show, and Eponine is my favourite character too.

Earlier this year, Dan released his second album, High, after leaving the show last year.  He would love to go back at some time in the future, Cameron Mackintosh said he “looked forward to bring him home” but left in order to further his recording career.  As mentioned above, JVJ is very demanding, takes all the actor’s energy and it was also Dan’s fifth year of being in a long running musical, so time for a change.

Another reason for the change was the chance to make himself more employable and so the album, High (click here to buy) is what Dan terms popera, pop with a classical twist as opposed to “someone like Alfie Boe who does more classical with a pop twist”.  The tracks work well together, with highlights being Remember Me (duet with Carrie Hope Fletcher) and Always and Forever.  Of course, being a former JVJ, Bring Him Home features on the album – which is a duet with Jonathan Ansell.  Now, on top of being a fabulous singer Dan is also a lovely bloke who has given me a free copy of Bring Him Home to share with thoughtsofjustafan!  To share this with you, I’m partnering with the Angry Baby blog, so to add this free copy of Dan’s Bring Him Home just click here.  This iffer won’t be around forever, so do it now!

In the meantime, here is a video trailer for High:

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On the eve of the 30th anniversary of Les Miserables in London, let’s take a look at 26 highlights and facts from Alfie to Miz!

A is for Alfie Boe of course! Alfie played the role in the West End for six months, having first taken the role at the 25th anniversary concert, and is now Jean Valjean on Broadway

B is for bread.  JVJ is jailed for stealing a loaf of bread but the onstage bread was once responsible for almost choking Dan Koek! Whilst pretending to eat the bishops’s bread, a crumb went up Koek’s nose and lodged at the back of his throat…and stayed there for the whole of the soliloquy!

C is for Carrie Hope Fletcher. London’s current Eponine, is the younger sister of McBusted’s Tom Fletcher…who appeared with Alfie at the Royal Festival Hall on the Bring Him Home tour

D is for Do You Hear the People Sing? We can and we can’t imagine ever stopping!

E  is for Eponine, brilliant character – surely, I can’t be the only one rooting for her over Cosette in Marius’ affections?

F is for Frances Ruffelle, original Eponine, winner of a Tony award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical and mum of singer Eliza Doolittle

G is for Grantaire, a glorious character who spends most of his time onstage in an alcoholic glaze

H is for Hans Peter Janssen, the only Belgian actor to play JVJ in London

I is for I Dreamed a Dream, iconic song from Fantine, memorably performed by Lea Salonga at the 25th anniversary concert.  Went into the entertainment stratosphere with Susan Boyle’s Britain’s Got Talent audition

J is for John Owen-Jones, the youngest Jean Valjean (he was 26).  He most memorable Les Mis moment came in rehearsal with Claude-Michel Schonberg for the 25th anniversary tour.  John says “I was rehearsing Bring Him Home with Claude-Michel in a room backstage at the Barbican. We were running through the song when he suddenly stopped playing the piano and looked slowly around the room with a quizzical look on his face. Then he looked at me and said in that wonderful French accent of his: “Wait…zis room…it is where I wrote zis song!”

K is for Karrie, Peter who played JVJ for three years from 1986.  In a recent interview he told me that he worked with one Javert who made him corpse one day at the end of the cart scene: “he clicked his heels together and turned to walk off, his microphone was already off, and he said so only I could hear, if you don’t have that cart moved, I’ll have it clamped!  I laughed so much I had to feign a coughing fit and run off stage quickly!

L is for Lea Salonga who played Eponine in the 10th anniversary concert and Fantine in the 25th anniversary

M is for Mackintosh, Cameron, the producer of Les Mis as well as many more musicals around the world

N is for Norm Lewis, picked as his favourite Javert by Alfie Boe in his Club 24601 interview with thoughtsofjustafan

O is for One Day More – best ending to a first act in musical theatre bar none (the combination of Michael Ball and Ramin Karimloo is superb here):

P is for Peter Lockyer, current London JVJ –  first played JVJ whilst directing an amateur production in Hawaii

Q is for the Queen’s Theatre, home to the London production

R is for revolving stage, no longer in evidence in the Broadway show.  Dave Willetts remembers several shows in the early days where the stage stopped revolving at awkward moments, notably at the end of the barricade scene when all the dead actors had to get up and walk off stage in the full glare of the lights!

S is for the Soliloquy, favourite song of several of the Club 24601 JVJ’s

T is for Thenardier – a villain we love to love

U is for understudies – Dave Willetts understudied for Colm Wilkinson before taking over the lead when Wilkinson originated the role on Broadway

V is for Valjean, one of the most iconic roles in modern musicals and the Valjean Quartet from the 25th anniversary:

W is for writers, Claude-Michel Schonberg, Alain Boublil and Herbert Kretzmer

X is for Enjolras’ xylophone vest at the barricades (trust me, it’s real) – big thanks to Debbie Bannigan for telling me!

Y is for young performers – Little Eponine, Little Cosette and Gavroche

Z is for Miz which is the twitter spelling for the Broadway production

 

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