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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Column: Les Mis

It only takes 13 seconds into the Les Misérables teaser trailer to get a musical fanatic to tear up. The beginning notes of “I Dreamed a Dream” dominate the montage of extremely famous people, leaving whoever the audience member is drained, excited and a little shocked.

When the announcement that Les Misérables was in the works to become a Hollywood adaptation, the musical world was in uproar. Usually, movie adaptations ruin and taint the magic that is Broadway — sure, Hairspray, Chicago and Dreamgirls were great … but you can’t help but die a little on the inside when you realize that the general public will now fall in love with the stage performance you dedicated your heart to so many years ago.

Slowly, the cast list was revealed. Anne Hathaway as Fantine? Alright, she seemed to be talented at the Tony Awards. And with Sacha Baron Cohen as Thénardier, Helena Bonham Carter as Madame Thénardier, Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean and Amanda Seyfried as Cosette, you know this film adaptation can’t go wrong. Especially when they brought Samantha Barks as Éponine onto the list. She did no wrong, in my opinion, on Broadway.

There WAS a huge upset when Taylor Swift was in talks to be Éponine. I do like me some Swift every once in awhile when I’m sad and lonely, but in a Broadway adaptation of an extremely famous musical? Hell to the no. I was almost as upset when I realized that George Bush might be president again years ago.

When the announcement that Samantha Barks would be assuming the part, most of the Broadway community and its fans sighed a breath of relief. You don’t do that, Hollywood. You don’t do that.

Now, I own the Les Misérables in Concert: The 25th Anniversary DVD, have tickets to see the show in San Francisco this summer and am eagerly awaiting the movie release. To be completely honest, I was  surprisingly blown away by Nick Jonas’ rendition of Marius Pontmercy. People may say that he was amateur and not strong enough … perhaps it wasn’t his beauty and surprising talent that landed him the role of J. Pierrepont Finch in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying?

But let’s get back to the film at hand. During the time I’ve spent writing this column, I’ve played the trailer at least 10 times. Sure, Anne Hathaway’s version doesn’t hold the notes as long as you expect, but remember that this IS Hollywood and sometimes the face is more important than replicating the talent of the original cast. You gotta make everyone (Hollywood and Broadway) happy, right?

Let’s just be real. Even if you don’t follow Broadway like a sports team, have tickets to every show in every major city and only have Original Cast Recording as the only artists on your iPod, this movie looks pretty damn good. And if you are that person who has Broadway musical tattoos, then this teaser trailer most likely surprises in how much it doesn’t suck.

I’ve heard rumors that Wicked might become a movie in the future … God, let’s hope not. That is one of my all-time favorite musicals, and if the rest of the plebeians who don’t dedicate their paychecks to Broadway get to enjoy a movie version for $12.50 at the local movie theatre, I’m going to die.

Let’s keep Broadway on stage. And a note to Hollywood: Stop stealing stories from the stage and from books. Get your own damn writers.

ELIZABETH ORPINA is an angry person and will probably be listening to the Spring Awakening soundtrack when she bikes home. Let her know how much you enjoy her rants at arts@theaggie.org.


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