Monday, May 5, 2014

The 6 Ways LES MISERABLES and MISS SAIGON are Identical

Les Saigon (PlaybillVault.com)
So, I think that judging from my blog and Twitter, it's no secret that I love Miss Saigon (exhibit A: I just made a Miss Saigon topic on Singular Sensation, because there are so many posts about it... exhibit B...). And of course I love Les Mis, because no self-respecting theatre nerd wouldn't. Did you know that the same songwriting team, Boublil and Schonberg, wrote both of these? After I discovered Miss Saigon just over a year ago, I could not only tell that the music and lyrics similar, but then I had an epiphany: Les Mis and Miss Saigon are exactly the same! Like, more alike than Frozen and Wicked! So below, I bring you the Boublil and Schonberg formula, by way of their characters.

(Totally forgot to include a video for this one, so I added it on 5/7/14)


     Les Miserables                                      Miss Saigon

Young Leading Man

Chris
(Lea Salonga & Simon Bowman,
Original London)
Song: "Why God?"
Marius
(Frances Ruffelle & David Bryant,
Original Broadway)
Song: "Empty Chairs at
Empty Tables"
Hopelessly in love with a girl he for some reason can’t have (For Marius, it's Cosette, for Chris, it's Kim). He's technically a main character, but in reality, he seems to be in the middle of the action rather than initiating. But don’t worry, he gets an emotional solo or two.


The Best Friend

Enjorlas
(Michael Maguire,
Original Broadway)
Song: "Do You Hear the People Sing?"
John
(Peter Polycarpou,
Original London)
Song: "Bui Doi"
A baritone who's pretty much the brains behind the operation, he ends up telling the main guy that there's no way he can be with the girl he likes because war is no place for romance. He thus encourages the main guy to put "the cause" before his girl. He of course sings the stirring call-to-action song.


The Malcontent Hooker


Fantine
(Randy Graff,
Original Broadway)
Song: "I Dreamed a Dream"
Gigi
(Rachelle Ann Go,
2014 London Revival)
Song: "The Movie in My Mind"
This is probably the most confusing character, but I think the point about her is that she represents an entire group of people. She's the one who has an epic "hard knock life" solo and some unnecessary character development towards the beginning, then she's just gone before we're halfway through Act 1. Because of this, it's always confused me as to why this role is so coveted (like when all the previews for the Les Mis movie showed Anne Hathaway, and all the theatre fans were confused).



Check out this video of Randy Graff, the Original Broadway Fantine, singing "I Dreamed a Dream" back in 1987 on The Phil Donahue Show!



The Other Girl

Eponine
(France Ruffelle,
Original Broadway)
Song: "On My Own"
Ellen
(Liz Callaway, Original Broadway)
Song: "Now that I've Seen Her"
Yes, y'all, this is the Eponine character. She's in love with the young leading man but has doubts about his affections for her. She gets a solo where she sings about him loving someone else, and then of course, there's a great trio sung by the leading man, leading lady, and this girl.  She's like the Act 2 equivalent of the Malcontent Hooker. Besides her pretty solo, you have a hard time figuring out why you care about her... It's funny cuz it's true.








The Sleezy Bad-ish Guy

The Engineer
(Jonathan Pryce,
Original London/Broadway)
Songs: "Prologue/The Heat is On"
"American Dream"
Thenardier
(the late Leo Burmester,
Original Broadway)
Songs: "Master of the House"
"Beggars at the Feast"
This is a rule-breaker who is around during the whole show. You don't know his/their whole story, but you just know that they have every intention of ending on top no matter what it takes. They aren't really on anyone's side and thus manage to slip under the radar when trouble comes. The big thing about this character is that they have a character development song at the beginning and one at the end, showing that they haven't changed. I just love that!




The Men's Chorus

This might seem obvious, but this is a very key ingredient in the Boublil and Schonberg shows. And I'm not just talking about chorus in general. This is specifically men. They back up the best friend's big moments and try to be as cool as him. Basically.

Before the theatre nerd police gets on me about not including the main role from Miss Saigon, Kim, I will clarify that I purposely left her out, because she and Cosette are not quite alike enough to make the list.

Also, fun fact: they opened at the same theatre, because Les Miserables opened at the Broadway Theatre in 1987, and moved to the Imperial when Miss Saigon came along in 1991.

Obviously, there are definitely differences between the characters in these shows, like the fact that Marius is not technically the main character of Les Mis. However, I think we can safely say that this role is actually about as big as Chris, since the role of Chris has never been eligible for the award for Best Actor. But they are the "leading man" type.

Anyway, I think the characters that are most alike are Gigi and Fantine, as well as Thenardier and The Engineer. Oh, and we're all thinking it: Enjorlas and John's main difference is that Enjorlas is way more attractive. Sorry, but no John stands a chance against that hair. 

Sally Henry www.BroadwayWorld.com/author/Sally-Henry // Twitter: www.twitter.com/bwayginger // Facebook: www.facebook.com/singularsensationbway

Read More:
All about Miss Saigon on Singular Sensation
Miss Saigon on PlaybillVault.com
Les Mis on PlaybillVault.com

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