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LES MISERABLES: The View From The Original London Cast

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LES MISERABLES: The View From The Original London Cast

Phantom faces at the window, phantom shadows on the floor...and on sides of buses, in newspapers, on social media, everywhere I look.

It's an extraordinary feeling. I'm haunted by a job I did a lifetime ago; a job that for years I forgot about; the poster which featured the younger version of my character that became, as I walked by it in the street, just another advertisement.

I'd grown up wanting to be an opera singer but having been chucked out of the Guildhall for reasons I now forget, I was lucky enough to land on my feet and almost immediately find work in musicals.

I'd already played Laurey in Oklahoma! and Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady for a young producer named Cameron Mackintosh, but I'd been told I must take opera seriously so now I was knuckling down to my chorus/understudy year at Glyndebourne Opera.

I found myself during a chorus improvisation on all fours pretending to be a dog for the man who was directing Mozart's opera Idomeneo. I thought it was just another day at the office, not a day that would change my life forever.

Something about my moving portrayal of Tintin's dog Snowy must have struck a chord because that afternoon during a stage rehearsal when the chorus was broken for lunch an arm snaked round my shoulder.

I had been Trevved.

I'm doing a new musical, said Mr Nunn. I stuttered something about being an opera singer now but the next thing I knew I was walking into a rehearsal room at the Barbican.

LES MISERABLES: The View From The Original London CastAnd so the experience began. LES MISERABLES was born.

We watched initially as we were cloned around the world; as people wore wigs of our hair colour, did the moves and notes we had improvised, and brought their own gifts to our roles and built on our foundations.

Then it faded into the backgrounds as we got on with our lives, the only reminder, apart from posters on the tube, was my friendship with my fellow ingenue, Frances Ruffelle, as we lived through the arrival of children, of divorce, death, of all that life threw at us.

Meanwhile, back at the theatre, other Cosettes and Eponines bonded for life, repeating our patterns yet again.

I'd pass the theatre occasionally and think of the revolve spinning around and around and the actors, like ghosts of us frozen in time, still young.

25 years after we opened, the original cast walked together onto the stage of the O2 for the anniversary concert. As we stepped up to mikes to sing, the expression on the faces of the audience were something none of us will ever forget.

And now? Now The Glums have become the Glams. The movie is here.

The excitement and the love for LES MISERABLES is extraordinary to watch. The sense of ownership and passion for the show is astounding.

I'm so proud of the original company. What we did can never be taken from us.

To make something that means so much to so many is a gift that few are given and I, for one, am very grateful and humbled by it all.

You can follow Rebecca Caine on Twitter. She is on tour in Canada from January 19.

www.rebeccacaine.com

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Guest Blogger: Rebecca Caine Rebecca Caine's career has been divided between opera and musical theatre. Her most famous roles include Cosette in Les Miserables (original London cast, with the Royal Shakespeare Company) and Christine in Phantom of the Opera (opposite Michael Crawford, then later original Canadian cast opposite Colm Wilkinson). In opera, she has worked at Glyndebourne, the English National Opera, the Canadian National Opera, Opera North, and Holland Park.


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