LES MISERABLES: Why The Cameos Were Such A Treat!
We all knew that we'd be seeing several Les Mis alumni in the movie - Cameron Mackintosh gleefully gushed about Tony-winning Eponine Frances Ruffelle as "the most fabulous whore", and snippets of casting information leaked on Twitter as current West End stars revealed their featured roles and bit parts, such as Michael Jibson as the Factory Foreman, and the likes of Gina Beck, Robyn North and Kerry Ellis making appearances in the ensemble.
Even though I knew they were coming, the familiar faces took me by surprise. It says something for the emotional impact the film had on me when I found myself looking at Hannah Waddingham and taking a significant amount of time to actually process who it was - and that was the case with pretty much all the theatrical talent I'm used to seeing on stage or hearing on recordings.
But that's not a problem. It's like Easter eggs on DVDs - I'll go back and see it again, and this time I'll be watching with the knowledge of who'll be on screen when, and making a point of looking out for them.
The only face and voice that immediately registered was Colm Wilkinson, as the Bishop, and this, to me, changed my perspective on the film. Wilkinson is the best-known Valjean ever. He created the role (and in some aspects the role was created for him, taking advantage of his unique vocals); he reprised it at the 10th anniversary; even in his ridiculously brief appearance at the 25th anniversary he reminded us why he is eternally linked with the part.
Seeing his beatific smile at Hugh Jackman on their first encounter, I didn't just think, "There's the Bishop." I also thought, "There's a Valjean from the past." Every time they interacted, I felt as if an older, wiser, Valjean from another dimension was passing on his wisdom to his confused, younger self - showing him the right path to travel.
For a musical that does employ echoes from the past and future, I felt this was eminently appropriate - perhaps it was not an intended interpretation, but for this Les Mis aficionado, it seems a proper and fitting one.