Earl Carpenter is back as Javert

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Earl Carpenter

Legendary Javert, Earl Carpenter, is coming to the United States to take over for current Javert, Will Swenson, in the musical “Les Miserables” on Broadway. Carpenter will also be reuniting with former co-stars Ramin Karimloo (Jean Valjean) and Samantha Hill (Cosette).

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Earl Carpenter as Javert

Carpenter was recently Javert in the revival of the Toronto production, of “Les Miserables,” which he co-stared with Karimloo and Hill in their respective roles. He has also been Javert in London, including the 25th anniversary UK tour. He has also had a small part in the 25th anniversary concert of “Les Miserables” as the Bishop and the 25th anniversary of “The Phantom of the Opera” as the auctioneer.

Fans of “Les Miserables” could not be happier to hear that Earl Carpenter will be taking over, even if only for a short matter of time. Will Swenson will be missed, but fans know that Carpenter has experience with the role of Javert and will do a great job.

Swenson’s absence is due to staring in the new show “Bill Durham” in Atlanta. Swenson will be absent from “Les Mis” starting July 22 and will return on October 5. Carptenter will take over the role starting August 12 and will leave October 3. Swenson’s understudy, Adam Monley, will take over from July 22 until Carpenter begins.

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Will Swenson

 

68th Tony Awards review

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The 68th Tony Awards have come and gone, leaving behind legendary performances and a win that made history. The Tony Awards were on June 8, 2014 and hosted by former Tony host, also stage, movie actor and Tony winner, Hugh Jackman.

The Tonys this year consisted of many nominees for plays, musicals, actors and actresses, including Idina Menzel and former Tony host, now back on Broadway, Neil Patrick Harris. The revival for “Les Miserables” was nominated, as well as its leading man making his Broadway debut, Ramin Karimloo.

The performances were pronominal to say the least, except for the musical “Rocky.” There was almost no singing and all it showed was the fight and the fighting rink. The Cast of “Les Miserables” was amazing. The cast gave an excellent performance of “One Day More.” Nikki M. James as Eponine was not the best, but she gave it her all. Broadway star Idina Menzel sang “Always Starting Over” from the new musical “If/Then” and did a spectacular job. The performance from “Aladdin” was amazing. The performance for “Violet” was nothing short of amazing and Sutton Foster nailed her singing part. The performance from “Hedwig and the Angry Itch” was spectacular. Neil Patrick Harris and Lena Hall were amazing. The cast of “Wicked” performed in honor of running on Broadway for ten years and the two ladies did a great job. These are just some of the phenomenal performances of the night.

One of the many highlights of the night was Audra McDonald winning the Tony award for “Best Leading Actress in a Play” for her performance in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar Grill.” This makes her sixth Tony win and history was made.

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Of course all of the fans of Ramin Karimloo were disappointed that he did not win the Tony, but Neil Patrick Harris did deserve it. Idina Mezel and Sutton Foster who were nominated in the same category did not win the Tony, but rather Jessie Mueller. All in all, everyone who won their Tonys deserved them.

Jackman did a good job hosting, but I personally felt like he missed some opportunities to make the night more entertaining. His opening was a bit confusing to say the least, because he hopped, but I did enjoy seeing some of the performers backstage. He was in the 2012 movie “Les Miserables” and he made no reference of “Les Mis,” there was no Jean Valjean face off with Karimloo, or even a joke about “Les Mis.” Most of his puns were directed at Harris, given they have both been Tony hosts in the past. Most of all I wish he had shaved his beard. I did, however, love his dance with all of the actresses nominated for “Best Actress in a Musical.”

“Aladdin” Broadway 2014 review

“Aladdin” came to Broadway in Spring 2014 and on Apr. 29, 2014 was nominated for five Tony awards. I saw the new musical in New York on Broadway on Apr. 27, 2014.

The cast included Broadway star Adam Jacobs as Aladdin, Tony nominee James Monroe as the Genie. Courtney Reed as Jasmine and Jonathan Freeman who was the original voice for Jafar in the Disney animated movie, which is the role he played in the musical.

The musical was great and very well done. Jacobs was fantastic as Aladdin, he has a great voice, looked the part, young. He fit the role perfectly. Monroe as the Genie was easily the favorite out of the cast. He has a great voice, humor and overall did a fantastic job. Reed was a fantastic Jasmine. She has the youth, great voice and portrayed Jasmine as she is meant to be portrayed, strong willed and a woman who knows what she wants. Freeman as Jafar was great having done the voice in the Disney adaption. A bit disappointing that he only sang one song though and it was toward the end of the musical when he did sing.

Overall it was great to see one of my favorite Disney movies come to life in a musical. The new music was great and the staging was done very well, along with the costumes. The main thing that impressed me was the magic carpet during “A Whole New World.” There were no wires, no air; it was the definition of magic. I found it really interesting how they replaced Abu the monkey with three men as Aladdin’s sidekicks, Babkak portrayed by Brian Gonzales, Omar portrayed by Jonathan Schwartz and Kassim portrayed by Brandon O’Neill. Iago the parrot was also replaced as a human portrayed by Don Darryl Rivera. Fantastic cast and a great musical.

“Les Miserables” Broadway 2014 review

On March 2014 “Les Miserables” came back to Broadway. On Apr. 29, 2014 it was nominated for three Tonys. I got the chance to see it in New York on Broadway on Apr. 26, 2014.

The cast included West End star, and now Tony nominee, Ramin Karimloo as Jean Valjean. Co-staring alongside him was Will Swenson as Javert, Caissie Levy as Fantine, Keala Settle as Madame Thenardier, Cliff Saunders as Thenardier, Nikki M. James as Eponine, Andy Mientus (Kyle Bishop “Smash”) and Melissa Mitchell understudying the role of Cosette.

The entire cast was phenomenal, but the person who stood out the most was Karimloo. Karimloo, he became Jean Valjean, he was not just portraying the role he was that amazing. Karimloo portrayed Jean Valjean as a physically strong man and one who has faced the hardships of life that he cannot quite let go of, while still portraying Jean Valjean as a very spiritual, Christian man. His “Bring Him Home” was simply beautiful, he sang it like a prayer and had beautiful hand movements.

Swenson portrayed Javert as a very spiritually strong character, and then portrayed Javert as such a broken man by the end. Swenson’s portrayal of Javert was very moving and portrayed him in a whole new light. Mientus was an amazing Marius and has a fantastic voice. James as Eponine was good, but not great as Eponine, great acting, it was just her voice for the role. Mitchell was amazing as Cosette, very hard to believe she was the understudy. Sanders and Settle were absolutely amazing in their roles and hilarious. Kyle Scatliffe was great as Enjolras, tall and determined, with a great voice to match.

Overall the show was amazing, great sets, great lighting and a fantastic cast. They all brought something new to the roles and blew me away, especially Ramin Karimloo. I have never seen, or felt, an actor make me feel like they were the role like Karimloo did, he just blew me away. I was not watching an actor portray the role of Jean Valjean, I felt like he was Jean Valjean.

Phantom of the Opera 2014 Broadway casting

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It was announced yesterday by Broadway.com that Norm Lewis will be the new Phantom in “The Phantom of the Opera,” in May this year and not only that but he will be the first African American to portray the Phantom on Broadway. And that is not all of the casting news; he will be co-staring with his former “The Little Mermaid” co-star, Sierra Boggess, who will come back to “Phantom” as Christine.

Lewis was Javert in the “Les Miserables 25th anniversary” along with many other roles in different productions, but being the Phantom is his dream role.

“That’s one of my roles I’ve always wanted to play,” Lewis said.

There has been a lot of talk about these two co-staring as “lovers” in “Phantom” because in “The Little Mermaid” they were father-daughter, with Lewis as King Triton and Boggess as Ariel. In real life the two are very close and even call each other father and daughter, but they are not letting that get in the way of their roles in “Phantom.” Boggess even joked about it on Twitter.

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Wilkinson and Caine

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Jones and Hall

The talk about this famous “father-daughter” duet being in “Phantom” is a bit out of hand as it has happened before with “Les Miserables” stage actors and actresses such as John Owen-Jones and Katie Hall in the 25th London tour, as well as Colm Wilkinson and Rebecca Caine in the original Canadian cast. There is really no need for the father-daughter controversy.

Some “Phans” are upset that Lewis will be replacing current Broadway Phantom, Hugh Panaro. Lewis and Panaro are friends in real life, so we know that Pararo is fine with it.

I personally am fine with Lewis going into the role as Phantom. He has a great voice and is a great actor. Boggess has played the role of Christine in “Phantom” 3 times already in Vegas, the 25th anniversary in London and the 25th anniversary in New York. I have no doubt that these two will be great as the Phantom and Christine.

Love Never Dies rant

I usually write reviews but ever since the “Love Never Dies” announcement yesterday, I have to get this out of my system.

Andrew Lloyd Webber has announced that “Love Never Dies” could possibly go on to Broadway if the production works out in Japan. But Webber has also announced that there will be a new ending, to kill the Phantom instead of Christine.

Of course everyone’s first thought is “Wait, what,” “Don’t bring it to America,” without even reading the article and if they did read it then they think that it is the worst idea for an ending ever. Of course “Love Never Dies” fans are complaining even “Phans” are complaining. It is a lose/lose.

Since 2012 the DVD of the Australian production has been out and since 2010 the London CD has been out, which gives away the original ending. Why change it?  Killing the Phantom would not only break the hearts of many, but Webber said that he was doing it for the sake of Phantom and Christine’s son, Gustave.

“People worry about what happens to the child,” Webber said.

Um Andrew I hate to break it to you, but we know Gustave is in safe hands with the Phantom. Yes Christine is dead, but he is in SAFE hands! The man is rich and owns a theme park in New York. The Phantom has grown up (somewhat) in “Love Never Dies” and Gustave would have been be fine, this is life.

The Phantom dying would be a bit out there. How will Gustave know his parentage? How will he react with a dying Phantom? And the big question is how Christine will react with her love and father of her child dying. Also will Christine stay in America and take care of Coney Island until Gustave is old enough to, or will she and Gustave find Raoul and go back with him? The possibility of the Phantom dying raises questions and the ending would be different leaving a heartbroken Christine, as well as devastated fans.

There are a couple of scenarios on how the Phantom can die in the end:

1)                   Meg shoots him after she says “Now that I have you attention at last. Here’s the big finish and then you can go.” During this part of the musical she is pointing a gun at Phantom.

2)                   Instead of accidently shooting Christine, Meg accidently shoots the Phantom. Either way it would be an accident if this were the case.

My own opinion is that it is an awful idea to change an ending that is already well known. Is Webber trying to make it more like the book ending of “The Phantom of the Opera,” because that should have been done in the first musical if that is the case. But then “Phantom” would not be the same with having a mysterious ending. I think changing the ending is ridiculous and heartbreaking, but if they do change the ending then I would like to see how they make it work out. Good luck Webber.

RENT Review

In 2005, eleven years after the musical went to broadway, “Rent” went to the big screen. I watched the movie for the first time February 2014 and I was nowhere near disappointed.

The movie cast had Idina Mezel as Maureen, Adam Pascal as Roger, Anthony Rapp as Mark, Rosario Dawson as Mimi, Jesse L. Martin as Collins, Wilson Jermaine Heredia as Angel, Tracie Thoms as Joanne and Taye Diggs as Benny. Dawson and Thoms were the only two cast members who were not in the original broadway cast in the movie.

The movie takes place in New York starting in the year 1989 through 1990 and shows the harsh, yet true realities of life all while trying to pay rent. It shows the realities of living with AIDs/ HIV, drug use, and of living in New York itself. It centers around eight friends, four of which who are living with HIV/AIDs. The love interests of the movie are Angel and Collins, Maureen and Joanne, and Roger and Mimi. Angel is a drag queen, who is homosexual, has AIDs and is by far the most moving, loving character in the movie. Angel the only character who died in “Rent.” By having these couples together it shows that it doesn’t matter what gender you are, love is love and either way losing someone you love no matter the circumstance is hard. The entire movie itself really shows what “Seasons of Love” really means, how to spend a year and live like it is your last.

The entire cast did a great job. I applaud Christopher Columbus for the decision to put the original cast in the movie. All of the characters in “Rent” are interesting, even Benny, who is not the most ideal character. “Rent” is one of the most emotional and real movies I have watched. It has great music, a great message and is a tear jerker.

Word of warning: If you are not one who can stand to watch public displays of affection between same sex couples, you can either turn your head or just not watch the movie because there are a few parts where 2 of the couples who are the same sex kiss and hold hands. The movie is not to graphic with Angel dying because of AIDs, but there is a part where he has spots on his face because of the disease before his funeral. There is also some language, but they do not cuss a ton.