Leo Burmester in Les Mis

PennybankBill
Stand-by
joined:11/1/10
Leo Burmester in Les Mis
Posted: 1/2/13 at 02:44pm
I was not alive when he played Thenardier on Broadway, so all I have to go by for performance is the OBC and The Tony Performance (which is not much!) The point being I thought he came across as cartoony, he was a bad singer, and I wanted to know why Alun Armstrong wasn't brought over to Broadway!
OperaBwayLover
Broadway Star
joined:5/17/07
Leo Burmester in Les Mis
Posted: 1/2/13 at 02:54pm
I was a year old when Les Mis opened on Broadway, so I'm in the same boat. I agree with you about him seeming cartoony- on the OBCR, he sounds like he's doing an impression of Tigger.

As for why Alun Armstrong wasn't brought over, I'd be willing to bet either three things: 1)the producers didn't consider him important enough to bring over, 2)they might have asked and he turned them down (ala Patti LuPone), 3)Equity exchanges were finicky back then. Example: the whole mess with Sarah Brightman in Phantom.
My Oh My
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/07
Leo Burmester in Les Mis
Posted: 1/2/13 at 03:17pm
I didn't see him and never will since he's since passed away. R.I.P.

But I do like what I've heard, even if I see the rationale that he invokes images of characters from Winnie the Pooh.

Matt Lucas and Borat listened to him extensively before doing their versions on stage and film because the former basically copies his inflection and delivery and the latter half-heartedly avoids impersonating him, which he half-heartedly fails to avoid, which causes an interesting cornucopia of accents that somehow works!

What a great tribute to what I'm sure was a great original Broadway cast member!

Recreation of original John Cameron orchestration to "On My Own" by yours truly. Click player below to hear.
Updated On: 1/2/13 at 03:17 PM
darquegk
Broadway Legend
joined:2/5/09
Leo Burmester in Les Mis
Posted: 1/2/13 at 05:56pm
Sacha Baron Cohen's unusual accent choices worked for me: he was the only one attempting a French accent (a bad French accent on purpose), giving the impression of the whole thing being a put-on, a pretense, which he slips down into a lower-middle-class English accent when not in "game face" mode.

If he had put on a pretentious British accent, the choice might have been hard to distinguish for non-British and non-BBC-aficionado audiences, and if he used the lower class accent the whole way through, the plot homage of Thenardier being a sham war hero and pretentious ass would be lost.
My Oh My
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/07
Leo Burmester in Les Mis
Posted: 1/2/13 at 06:06pm
I Love You.
Recreation of original John Cameron orchestration to "On My Own" by yours truly. Click player below to hear.
dreaming
Broadway Legend
joined:4/24/09
Leo Burmester in Les Mis
Posted: 1/2/13 at 06:10pm
I saw Leo Burmester in the role and he was very good. I thought he had a lot of presence and his comic timing was incredible.
best12bars
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/05
Leo Burmester in Les Mis
Posted: 1/2/13 at 07:27pm
Within two years, I saw Leo in three Broadway musicals:

1) as a replacement for John Goodman (as Pap Finn) in "Big River."

2) in the legendary flop musical "Raggedy Ann."

3) in the OBC of "Les Miz."

He was strong in all three, despite widely varying material and successes.

His Thenardier was very broad and funny, and Jennifer Butt was his equal as Mme. Thenardier. They both seemed to be from a different show, though. They had far more energy than anybody else on stage, and their characterizations were more akin to refuges from "Oliver!" They were the most "appealing" (in a despicable way) of any of the Thenariers I've seen since, but they were also the furthest removed from the tone of the rest of the cast. Jennifer, in particular, with her crazy hair and blacked-out tooth looked almost like a deranged Hillbilly.
"Jaws is the Citizen Kane of movies."
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My Oh My
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/07
Leo Burmester in Les Mis
Posted: 1/2/13 at 07:38pm
Frank Rich called her take as nothing more than Ms. Hannigan from Annie. I can see why he'd say that or why she and Leo stood out, but I loved Jennifer the few times I saw her as Mme. T. when she returned to the role with the show's 3rd national tour in 2004. Then again, she did reportedly play her differently than before.

Recreation of original John Cameron orchestration to "On My Own" by yours truly. Click player below to hear.
chrisampm2
Broadway Star
joined:5/26/07
Leo Burmester in Les Mis
Posted: 1/2/13 at 08:39pm
MyOhMy, Baron Cohen "half-heartedly avoids impersonating [Burmester], which he half-heartedly fails to avoid, which causes an interesting cornucopia of accents that somehow works." Wow. So, the mix of accents is due to his impersonating Burmester's performance half of the time? And how about a comparison between Burmester and Armstrong or Baron Cohen and Armstrong? What are the percentages there?
My Oh My
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/07
Leo Burmester in Les Mis
Posted: 1/3/13 at 02:40am
Dunno.

Don't feel like whipping numbers outta my a** right now.
Recreation of original John Cameron orchestration to "On My Own" by yours truly. Click player below to hear.
goldenboy
Broadway Legend
joined:7/15/05
Leo Burmester in Les Mis
Posted: 1/4/13 at 12:34am
Agree wholeheartedly with dreaming.
Leo Burmeister had great comic timing and presence.
In fact.. he was one of the best things in Les Ms.
Sasha Baron Cohen doesn't even come close to what Mr. Burmeister did with the role. And don't get me started on Tim Burton's wife.
ugh.
bwayto
Broadway Star
joined:12/5/11
Leo Burmester in Les Mis
Posted: 1/4/13 at 01:39am
@OperaBwayLover:

What was the deal with Brightman and equity your referring to?
Alan Henry
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Tsao5
Stand-by
joined:2/7/06
Leo Burmester in Les Mis
Posted: 1/4/13 at 03:34am
Burmeister and Jennifer Butt were quite cartoony when I saw them in the show, but so were many of the replacements such as Cindy Benson, JP Dougherty,Ed Dixon and especially Nick Wyman.....good lord, did I not like him in the role (he had a cockney accent and seemed to be doing bad children's theater the whole show) .

Granted, they are difficult roles to play as there is not much to work with....does one play them goofy/cartoony, evil/slimy or in a more "natural" way i.e. less mugging and goofy voices. J. Butt and C. Benson both had cartoony voices that were distracting and neither were funny (not that the role is so so funny) which is why many times since, the character is cast LARGE to possibly do more "bits with boobs" as one actor told me.

JP Dougherty,who I saw twice on the American tour, had most of his bits fall flat both times (for example in the wedding scene at the end in a break in the music before he grabs the large stick to get the orchestra playing again, he walks over to a male guest and gooses his privates with a "honk honk noise.) Both times, the audience did not react.

In London, when Valjean is singing in the Inn after he brings Cosette back, as he is singing about how 'Fantine's suffering is over' while looking out to the audience the Thenardier's were looking at each other confused trying to see and understand what he was looking at....this DID get laughs from the audience.

The line when Miss T. sings 'thinks he's quite a lover but there's not much there" sometimes gets a huge laugh depending on what the actress does with the inflection and action. The actress from the 10 anniversary/recent concert who played her seems to have found how to play the role to it's maximum effect.

I think London's Barry James and the 1989 national tour's Paul Ainsley came closest to finding a nice medium between the two, not too cartoony not too "realistic".

Leo Burmeister was a talented actor (loved him in The Abyss with Todd Graff) BUT in Les Mis..................not-a so good.


chrisampm2
Broadway Star
joined:5/26/07
Leo Burmester in Les Mis
Posted: 1/4/13 at 03:48am
Thanks for the details, Tsao.