For those that know me or follow this blog, you know that Les Miserables is important to me. Okay, very important to me. My relationship with the show started over twenty years ago, and through the show, I’ve learned about life, love, pain, talent, and theatre (amongst other things). Needless to say, I’ve been eagerly awaiting today’s casting announcement.
Ramin Karimloo (Jean Valjean): I was rooting for him to be Jean Valjean on Broadway. I’ve seen him in various musicals, including as JVJ in Les Mis. He has a beautiful voice that eloquently brings to life the music. He is a skilled actor too. I also hoped he’d be JVJ because JVJs improve with age and time. Revisiting the material and performing the show over a period of time tends to lead to a better and better performances. I am excited to see the further evolution of his portrayal of JVJ.
Will Swenson (Javert): Many find this choice particularly unexpected. However, he has an extensive career in theatre and major vocal chops. I’ve never seen him perform a role like this so that will be a new experience. I’m not sure how it will compare to some of the legendary Jean Valjeans I’ve seen in the past, including Earl Carpenter and Andrew Varela. It’s a character that has been interpreted very differently over the years, and I expect he will have a unique take on the role. I’m excited to get a new perspective on this character.
Caissie Levy (Fantine): Some find this choice odd too. Every time I see Caissie live, she impresses me. She has a show-stopping voice, so I look forward to experiencing her rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream”. Again, I have never seen her in a role like this, but I think she’s ready. I’ve been fortunate enough to see some incredible interpretations of this characters, and despite hoping for an opportunity to see some of those interpretations repeated, I’m eager to see her take on this character’s struggle.
Nikki M. James (Eponine): Again, this choice seems to be surprising to people. Not to me. I expected the casting powers at be to choose someone for this role who was very different from the original interpretation. “On My Own” has perhaps brought in the most fans to Les Mis over the years. The song certainly got me hooked when I was five. Nikki M. James won a Tony for Book of Mormon in part thanks to show-stopping numbers like “Sal Tlay Ka Siti” and “Hasa Diga Eebowai” (Reprise), and consequently, I have reason to believe that she will make the anthem-like “On My Own” a memorable show-stopping moment too. She’s become a familiar face on Broadway. Although I would have love to seen a fresh, unknown actress cast in this role, I do want to see this show stick around on Broadway for a while, which likely means casting established actors, at least for now.
To know exactly what these performers will bring to Les Mis, we’ll have to wait until March of 2014 to see, but I know I will be there, supporting the “people” as I have so many times before.