Comscore

re: Norm Lewis as Javert

HamletWasBipolar Profile Photo
HamletWasBipolar
Broadway Star
joined:8/18/05
Norm Lewis as Javert
Posted: 7/7/06 at 04:40pm
First off let me begin this post by saying it is in no way racist or prejudiced. I am curious how color blind casting can be implemented for the revival of Les Miserables. Historical accuracy would have prohibited an african-american as being a policeman in Paris of the time period. DOes this mean in all fairness a caucasian female whould be allowed to play the Nell Carter part in an Aint Misbehavin' revival? This is just something I was thinking about. Color blind casting vs. accuracy in work that is trying to be portrayed as real. I think Norm Lewis is incredible, but I havent made up my mind that is proper casting. In a business where appearance is everything, and people lose jobs for being two inches two tall/short, how can such a blatant disregard to accuracy be made?
" I wish that the stage were as narrow as a tightrope wire, so that no incompetent would dare step upon it." -- Goethe (he wants you to go to my Myspace page www.myspace.com/jasonklemm
DiamondGirl
Stand-by
joined:10/1/05
re: Norm Lewis as Javert
Posted: 7/7/06 at 04:50pm
This debate has come up many times, but it isn't really new for Les Mis. The previous Broadway cast/tour had instances of not-so-accurate color-blind casting as well. I don't think a black Javert is harder to believe than a little white Eponine who grows up to be Asian.
HamletWasBipolar Profile Photo
HamletWasBipolar
Broadway Star
joined:8/18/05
re: Norm Lewis as Javert
Posted: 7/7/06 at 04:53pm
Lol...too funny...I could buy an African American Phantom, for instance. The Phantom as a small boy was in a traveling freak show, and could be of any ethnicity from any part of the world. THAT I would be fine with. Im sure Mr. Lewis will be incredible and I look forward to seeing it, just one of those things that make you go hmmmm. If it was Les Miz in concert I could buy it, but not on the Rue..lol
" I wish that the stage were as narrow as a tightrope wire, so that no incompetent would dare step upon it." -- Goethe (he wants you to go to my Myspace page www.myspace.com/jasonklemm
luvliza89 Profile Photo
luvliza89
Broadway Legend
joined:12/14/04
re: Norm Lewis as Javert
Posted: 7/7/06 at 04:55pm
Does accuracy matter all that much if the performer can do thier job? If an audience can suspend thier belief to sit in a theatre, watch people on stage, and see a story unfold, is accuracy in skin color that much more difficult to digest? I doubt maybe people would even stop an notice or care. I know I wouldn't.
Updated On: 7/7/06 at 04:55 PM
LizzieCurry Profile Photo
LizzieCurry
Broadway Legend
joined:3/7/05
re: Norm Lewis as Javert
Posted: 7/7/06 at 04:58pm

If they really cared about accuracy (hey, maybe race is not an issue in the show), you'd never have seen surnames like Wilkinson, McCarthy, Kaarina, Patterson, Hernandez, James, Ragavelas, or whatnot in the cast, because they'd have obviously strived to look for actors of actual French descent.

Please.

Race matters in some shows, but not all. This is an example of the latter.


And, ineveitably, Norm Lewis is going to be linked to this guy

"Don't patronize me, alright?" - BroadwayStar4
Updated On: 7/7/06 at 04:58 PM
gustof777 Profile Photo
gustof777
Broadway Legend
joined:6/8/04
re: Norm Lewis as Javert
Posted: 7/7/06 at 04:58pm
I don't think it's that hard if you just have an imagination...I know many people reject that notion but I remember I had an african american Eponine and a white lil eponine and it didn't bother me. It's the beauty of theater...we can get away with it where as film is trickier
RIP Natasha Richardson. ~You were a light on this earth ~
jasonf Profile Photo
jasonf
Broadway Legend
joined:12/26/03
re: Norm Lewis as Javert
Posted: 7/7/06 at 04:58pm
In a show where color matters in the least, then yes, I would agree with you (for example, just picture it: Norm Lewis as Ruteledge in 1776! He could sing the hell out of Molassess to Rum, but come on). I don't think it matters at all in Les Mis, so I'm perfectly fine with it.
Hi, Shirley Temple Pudding.
iluvtheatertrash Profile Photo
iluvtheatertrash
Broadway Legend
joined:11/9/04
re: Norm Lewis as Javert
Posted: 7/7/06 at 05:00pm
I guess I lack an imagination. Because seeing a black Javert in London was truly disturbing and I spent the entire time wondering why they feared him, seeing as how a black man would never have had that power.
"I know now that theatre saved my life." - Susan Stroman
HamletWasBipolar Profile Photo
HamletWasBipolar
Broadway Star
joined:8/18/05
re: Norm Lewis as Javert
Posted: 7/7/06 at 05:04pm
I am fine with it, too. It was just something I was thinking about. In response to the post about " if a performer can do his job." Auditions in New York are flooded with MORE than capable talent to fill roles, that CONSISTENTLY lose jobs because of appearance...ht/wt/look, etc. But I am sorry I can't see an African American in the role of Jack in The Importance of Being Earnest anymore than an african american police lieutenant in 18th century France. Will it diminish my enjoyment of the show when I see it? Not at all. These are just my babblings on a boring day :)
" I wish that the stage were as narrow as a tightrope wire, so that no incompetent would dare step upon it." -- Goethe (he wants you to go to my Myspace page www.myspace.com/jasonklemm
LizzieCurry Profile Photo
LizzieCurry
Broadway Legend
joined:3/7/05
re: Norm Lewis as Javert
Posted: 7/7/06 at 05:05pm
and I spent the entire time wondering why they feared him, seeing as how a black man would never have had that power.

Well, *I* wouldn't be afraid of Cornell John, but that's because he sucked.

What did you think of Shaun Escoffery, then? Would the students have never followed a black guy around the barricade?
"Don't patronize me, alright?" - BroadwayStar4
Updated On: 7/7/06 at 05:05 PM
HamletWasBipolar Profile Photo
HamletWasBipolar
Broadway Star
joined:8/18/05
re: Norm Lewis as Javert
Posted: 7/7/06 at 05:07pm
Lizzie, this was never meant to be a confrontational post, but rather food for thought and a smart debate.
" I wish that the stage were as narrow as a tightrope wire, so that no incompetent would dare step upon it." -- Goethe (he wants you to go to my Myspace page www.myspace.com/jasonklemm
luvliza89 Profile Photo
luvliza89
Broadway Legend
joined:12/14/04
re: Norm Lewis as Javert
Posted: 7/7/06 at 05:10pm
iluvtheatertrash-The only truly disturbing thing is your post. It should not matter in the LEAST what the race of the actor is. They are playing a character and not themselves, so I see race as a moot point. If you can't deal with that, then theatre isn't the right place for you.

I'm sorry if I seem to be snapping and *maybe* it wasn't supposed to be written in an offensive manner, but it sure came off it to me.
Updated On: 7/7/06 at 05:10 PM
Lavieboheme3090 Profile Photo
Lavieboheme3090
Broadway Legend
joined:10/9/04
re: Norm Lewis as Javert
Posted: 7/7/06 at 05:12pm
"and I spent the entire time wondering why they feared him, seeing as how a black man would never have had that power."

And the fact that they sang the whole show didn't throw you off the realism track at all?
luvliza89 Profile Photo
luvliza89
Broadway Legend
joined:12/14/04
re: Norm Lewis as Javert
Posted: 7/7/06 at 05:14pm
Exactly. If one can suspend thier belief for seeing ANY show, singing or not, then the same should go for race.
LizzieCurry Profile Photo
LizzieCurry
Broadway Legend
joined:3/7/05
re: Norm Lewis as Javert
Posted: 7/7/06 at 05:15pm
I wasn't trying to be confrontational. I'm just tired of the same "if this can happen, then why not a black Nellie or Martian Norma Desmond blah blah blah" argument that inevitably comes up whenever a non-WASP ends up in Phantom or Les Miz.
"Don't patronize me, alright?" - BroadwayStar4
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gustof777
Broadway Legend
joined:6/8/04
re: Norm Lewis as Javert
Posted: 7/7/06 at 05:15pm
haha good point Lavie
RIP Natasha Richardson. ~You were a light on this earth ~
friedrichVT
Leading Actor
joined:5/4/06
re: Norm Lewis as Javert
Posted: 7/7/06 at 05:15pm
Then you may not want to see the "revival" as the cast list looks like a walking talking Bennetton commercial. The story deals with such themes as sacrifice,humanity,redemption and forgiveness. They are color blind themes. The historical backdrop almost takes a backseat to the human events of the musical. Not everyone will agree... my only hope is that they cast the most qualified talent as opposed to making a Colorblind statement or a gimmick for the too soon revived Les Miz. Cameron's motives are not always as they seem to be.
HamletWasBipolar Profile Photo
HamletWasBipolar
Broadway Star
joined:8/18/05
re: Norm Lewis as Javert
Posted: 7/7/06 at 05:19pm
To Ilovetheatretrash...if your read my post properly, it was posed as a question, a debate...not an ironclad statement. I am a professional working actor. I would not audition for the role of the stable buck Crooks in Of Mice and Men, for I am not right for the part. I would not audition for Emile Debecque in South Pacific, even though I have strong baritone..why? because I am too young for the part. COuld I act and sing the hell out of it? Yes. Would you have a problem with me in the role? yes you would...age discrimination?? no...just accurate casting. Peace.
" I wish that the stage were as narrow as a tightrope wire, so that no incompetent would dare step upon it." -- Goethe (he wants you to go to my Myspace page www.myspace.com/jasonklemm
LizzieCurry Profile Photo
LizzieCurry
Broadway Legend
joined:3/7/05
re: Norm Lewis as Javert
Posted: 7/7/06 at 05:20pm
Then you may not want to see the "revival" as the cast list looks like a walking talking Bennetton commercial.

Very good point, friedrichVT. When I found out about Nehal Joshi, my eyebrows raised only because this seems to be teetering towards a "Please don't notice we're trying REALLY REALLY hard to make up for only color-blind casting the women 90% of the time" sentiment. Kinda like the TV movie of Annie and the non-segregated orphanage.

I mean, you already have Norm Lewis and Daphne Rubin-Vega, plus two half-Asian juvenile leads (Adam Jacobs and Ali Ewoldt), Nikki Renee Daniels and Nehal Joshi in the ensemble. I'm sure they're not the only non-white cast members.

On a side note, the first production outside of Asia to cast a Valjean of Asian descent was interestingly enough, the Sao Paulo cast with Marcos Tumura.
"Don't patronize me, alright?" - BroadwayStar4
LizzieCurry Profile Photo
LizzieCurry
Broadway Legend
joined:3/7/05
re: Norm Lewis as Javert
Posted: 7/7/06 at 05:23pm
Phillyactor, "not right for the part" means different things to different people. Obviously ethnicity is low on the list in the Johnson-Liff-Rubin world.
"Don't patronize me, alright?" - BroadwayStar4
HamletWasBipolar Profile Photo
HamletWasBipolar
Broadway Star
joined:8/18/05
re: Norm Lewis as Javert
Posted: 7/7/06 at 05:27pm
I believe you are right....after all the broader the cast, the broader the audience, which means the broader the box office. Is their motives to be politically correct or fiancially correct?
" I wish that the stage were as narrow as a tightrope wire, so that no incompetent would dare step upon it." -- Goethe (he wants you to go to my Myspace page www.myspace.com/jasonklemm
friedrichVT
Leading Actor
joined:5/4/06
re: Norm Lewis as Javert
Posted: 7/7/06 at 05:34pm
The artistry of Les Miz has been proven by its longevity in the world of theater. Considering it closed a little over 3 years ago, I would say it's "triumphant" return to Broadway as the world's longest Running Musical is strictly Financial.
Updated On: 7/7/06 at 05:34 PM
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Marguerite Chauvelin
Broadway Star
joined:7/19/05
re: Norm Lewis as Javert
Posted: 7/7/06 at 05:40pm
jasonf, I would definitely love to see Norm Lewis as Ruteledge, that'd be interesting in a kind of ironic way.
If Percy Blakeney were in Les Mis....

Percy: Sink me! If it isn't Javvurt!
Javert: Zsah-vair, it's pronounced Zsah-vair.
Pecry: But it's spelled J-A-V-E-R-T Javvurt.
Javert: Repeat after me Zsah...Zsah....
Percy: Oh! Zsa-Zsa! Like the Gabor sister! Well I personally have always prefered Eva.
Javert: (Looks for gun)
HamletWasBipolar Profile Photo
HamletWasBipolar
Broadway Star
joined:8/18/05
re: Norm Lewis as Javert
Posted: 7/7/06 at 05:49pm
This post really wasnt about Les Miz per se, but more about contradictions in casting practices, and what the real motives for them are. I doubt that a smaller box office draw, for say, The Cripple Of Inishman, would be making the same " politically correct" choices as the potential $$ blockbuster. The one would choose accuracy over the almighty dollar.
" I wish that the stage were as narrow as a tightrope wire, so that no incompetent would dare step upon it." -- Goethe (he wants you to go to my Myspace page www.myspace.com/jasonklemm
WordedGrace Profile Photo
WordedGrace
Featured Actor
joined:6/11/06
re: Norm Lewis as Javert
Posted: 7/7/06 at 05:50pm
This topic was useless to begin with. It's a done deal...get over it.
I'm not gonna hate you in the magazines, (I'm better than that) I'm not gonna compromise my Christianity, (I'm better than that) You know I'm not gonna diss you on the Internet Cause my momma taught me better than that.
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jasonf
Broadway Legend
joined:12/26/03
re: Norm Lewis as Javert
Posted: 7/7/06 at 05:53pm
No director in the world is brave enough (or crazy enough) to try that. I would have less problems with an all-female cast of 1776 than having a black man play Ruteldge - it just COMPLETELY defies the entire point of the character. Aside from it being an obvious stunt, casting a black man as Ruteldge wouldn't serve any purpose. It would confuse the hell out of the audience (especially one who had never seen the show before and lacked basic historical knowledge, which, let's face it, is most of America) and make his entire argument about the benefits of slavery meaningless. At best, a director who chose to do this would THINK they were making a statement about how far we've come as a nation, but in fact the play does that on its own and does not need the distracting "here-I'm-hitting-you-over-the-head" stylistic choice.
Like I said, if the role doesn't depend so heavily on the race of the character (as Ruteledge - and indeed most of the 1776 cast - clearly does) then I'm all for color blind casting, even if historical accuracy is forfeited (ie Javert).
Hi, Shirley Temple Pudding.

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