New York City: Day Two

Our second day in New York was dedicated entirely to theatre, as I would prefer all days to be. We saw the matinee of Les Miserables and then went back to the hotel to change clothes and eat room service food, before heading out to see the evening show of The Phantom of the Opera.

Les Miserables
With Ramin Karimloo, Will Swenson, Caissie Levy, Andy Mientus, Samantha Hill, & Kyle Scatliffe 
The Imperial Theatre
Les Miserables
With Ramin Karimloo, Will Swenson, Caissie Levy, Andy Mientus, Samantha Hill, Nikki James, & Kyle Scatliffe 

It’s no secret that Les Miserables is one of my favorite musicals. The day that it was announced that Ramin was cast as Jean Valjean, my mom and I agreed that we had to take a trip up to New York to see him. I was a bit nervous about seeing the Broadway production, as I’m so fond of the West End production and had a fantastic cast last summer when I saw it. However, the Broadway production is definitely well-worth seeing.

I absolutely adore Ramin Karimloo but I was still incredibly floored by his performance as Valjean. I heard some audios from his run in London and he is infinitely better now. One thing that he is particularly good at is showing the different stages in Valjean’s life (convict, mayor, father, dying man). I am a huge fan of Will Swenson as a person, but I was rather disappointed by his Javert. I didn’t get much of a sense of a character from him. He seemed too harsh and almost seemed like more of a commentary on police brutality than someone with a personality. Caissie Levy is an incredible Fantine. There’s no other way to put it. She showed that Fantine had a certain fire--a feistiness-that made it believable that she would survive as long as she did. She’s quite obviously a fighter and her death scene was stunning.

Samantha Hill and Andy Mientus were adorable as Cosette and Marius. For the first time, I cared not only about them as characters but about their love story! They’re both so absolutely cute and it made Marius and Cosette one of the best parts of the whole show. Nikki James was a fairly good actress as Eponine, but her vocals were terrible in my opinion. Her vocal quality doesn’t seem suited to the show. Also, Chris McCarrell is the absolute cutest ensemble member ever. 

Overall, a super great show and I’m so glad we saw it. I’m kind of in love with the entire cast because they’re all lovely. But overall, I really do prefer the West End production.

The Phantom of the Opera 
With Norm Lewis, Sierra Boggess, and Jeremy Hays
A poster outside the Majestic Theatre

I saw The Phantom of the Opera last march with Hugh Panaro and Sierra Boggess, at Sierra’s last performance (of that run). Seeing it again was absolutely incredible! Some of you may know Norm Lewis from the TV show, Scandal, or from the Les Miserables 25th Anniversary Concert (he played Javert). He’s the first African-American to play the Phantom on Broadway, which is a huge achievement in itself.

Norm was absolutely lovely. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about him in the role, as I’m so used to Ramin or Hugh. He managed to pull off a Phantom that was warm, but dignified. However, I felt that perhaps he wasn’t dangerous enough. I never really felt afraid of him, only sorry for him. He was brilliant in the first half of the Final Lair--all nervous energy, lots of hand wringing and biting sarcasm. The second half fell a bit flat, compared to John Owen Jones or Ramin, as I didn’t feel quite enough despair. Overall, I thought he did well acting-wise and very well singing-wise. 

Sierra was wonderful as always. She definitely plays a more mature Christine now than she did at the time of the 25th Anniversary concert. Her interactions with Norm were great and she played off of Jeremy Hays well too. Her vocals are absolutely stunning and her dancing was quite impressive as well. However, I felt that she wasn’t at her best this time--but maybe I’m spoiled from seeing her last show of her last run (her Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again was absolutely heart-wrenching that time). However, her Christine is definitely one that understands the full consequences of her actions and one that I believe would go on to live a happy life with Raoul. 

Jeremy Hays played a very dignified Raoul. While he was warm towards Christine, I never forgot that he was a nobleman. He didn’t have that I’m-trying-to-be-noble-but-heck-I’m-so-excited-to-see-Christine vibe that Hadley Fraser gives off as Raoul or Killian Donnelly’s youthful excitement, but he had an interesting take on the character. He definitely showed in “Notes/Twisted Every Way” that Raoul feels that the only way they can ever escape from the Phantom and have a happy life is to make Christine sing in Dom Juan. I felt the sense of a man who is willing to try anything and who thinks this plan may be their last hope, which was nice. Overall, a very solid Raoul that I absolutely felt could take down the Phantom but not one that I was particularly attracted or attached to. 

The rest of the ensemble was good, though I still think Wendy Ferguson’s Carlotta is my favorite. We had the understudy Madame Giry and she was quite good. Our Meg was very lovely: spirited, lively, and gorgeous (a worthy best friend for Christine and clearly a rising star herself). The show itself is magnificent with the chandelier and moving statue and everything. Our seats (side orchestra) were incredible as we could see the actors’ faces and their every emotion. 

Phantom has a lovely cast that works very well together and I would definitely recommend seeing it if you’re a fan of the show!
Stage Door with Norm Lewis and Sierra Boggess

Stage door was certainly crowded! Jeremy Hays was reserved, but nice. Sierra was lovely though she obviously had a lot on her mind. I can’t believe I got a picture with her! She’s even prettier in person and her hair was just gorgeous. It took Norm Lewis about a half hour to come out (obviously getting the makeup off isn't easy), but when he did he thanked everyone for waiting for him. He seemed surprised to see so many people; he’s incredibly humble! He took a lot of time, signing things for everybody and took pictures with me and my sister and then one with my mum too. He’s very tall and incredibly handsome in person (much more than in video!). He’s absolutely the nicest person and if you see Phantom, you should definitely take the time to stage door to see him. 
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