Les Miz - SPOILER Staging Question

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Les Miz - SPOILER Staging Question#1
Posted: 12/31/06 at 10:54pm
I recently saw the revival and was disappointed in the staging effects when Javert commits suicide. I seem to recall the fall from the bridge in the original production (especially with Terrance Mann) being breath-taking. Did they change it as much as I think, and if so does anyone know why?
***SPOILER***
I have changed the original title for those who haven't read the book, haven't read the liner notes, haven't seen any production, haven't discussed this show with anyone who has seen it, and otherwise lives under a rock. I recall in the original production, Javert dropping into a fog bank on stage and the bridge flying upwards - in other words, not a stunt but a visual effect. I suppose nothing like that is ever as good the second time, but I saw the original production three times, and the revival just seems different. But memory does play tricks.
Updated On: 1/1/07 at 10:54 PM
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re: Les Miz - Javert's Suicide#2
Posted: 12/31/06 at 11:04pm
There are only so many ways you can create the image of a man falling off a bridge live on stage.
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re: Les Miz - Javert's Suicide#2
Posted: 12/31/06 at 11:07pm
It's exactly the same staging. You probably remember it being greater than it really was. Memory often tricks us.
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re: Les Miz - Javert's Suicide#3
Posted: 12/31/06 at 11:09pm
It's not actually a fall. At least in the original Broadway production and almost all professional productions, he stays standing on the stage while the bridge flies up.

It's so cool, it's a clearly theatrical representation, and looks great when done well!
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re: Les Miz - Javert's Suicide#4
Posted: 12/31/06 at 11:11pm
I know I saw it, but it was creating the image of him falling is what I meant. You can't exactly have someone actually doing stunts. Even if you could get the kind of insurance in an actor's contract that I can imagine would be needed...he falls in water. That's all I was saying re: Les Miz - Javert's Suicide
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re: Les Miz - Javert's Suicide#5
Posted: 12/31/06 at 11:35pm
For the sake of those who haven't seen the show, you may want to change the title. I personally hadn't seen the show until this year (although I'd obviously known about the suicide). Just a heads up. :)
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re: Les Miz - Javert's Suicide#6
Posted: 1/1/07 at 12:31am
I was expecting something more like the way Raul jumps off the bridge and into the smoke/water in Phantom of the Opera, but I’m not even sure if the actor playing Raul actually does the jump. It could be a double I suppose, but I’ve never been told one way or the other. I did like the rising bridge effect too though. It was a neat way to do it, but as I saw it the last time it was in LA I did begin laughing a bit when the actor then tumbled around the stage in the dark. That, I felt, was unnecessary.
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re: Les Miz - Javert's Suicide#7
Posted: 1/1/07 at 12:36am
They haven't changed the staging at all, in fact for thing production they used the ORIGINAL london staging.
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re: Les Miz - Javert's Suicide#8
Posted: 1/1/07 at 12:56am
Some Javerts just don't launch themselves impressively. The general blocking has never changed, though.

(And then there's Michael McCarthy, who probably scooped up all the dust bunnies generated that night.)
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re: Les Miz - Javert's Suicide#9
Posted: 1/1/07 at 2:31am
The actor playing Raoul in Phantom does the jump, not a double.

However, I have to say that I've never liked the way Les Miz has staged Javert's "jump." If you want to have the bridge fly up, fine, but at least let him sink into the stage instead or just rolling around...
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re: Les Miz - Javert's Suicide#10
Posted: 1/1/07 at 2:37am
I don't think people would really understand falling into the stage. Actually, if I hadn't already read the novel, I wouldn't have understood the bridge going up until he was "floating and drowning" around on the stage. I think it's a risky scene because it's hard to do.
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re: Les Miz - Javert's Suicide#11
Posted: 1/1/07 at 2:41am
I'm not a fan of the "jump" and the slow-mo bits, personally. There seem to be better ways to do the jump, like CatsNY mentioned, and we can't we do without the slow-mo? It's so pointless and counter-production and actually seems to diminish the suspense (for me, at least).
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re: Les Miz - Javert's Suicide#12
Posted: 1/1/07 at 2:44am
Well, I think Norm Lewis does it very well. Towards the end of the song I felt that he was clinging on to the bridge with his life. But, after I first saw it (years ago) I did have an image in my head of Javert jumping, but I always got that it was a suicide.
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re: Les Miz - Javert's Suicide#13
Posted: 1/1/07 at 2:48am
No I agree Norm Lewis was great.

Slow mo doesn't work for me either. They had a lot of slow mo in Les Mis. The only slow mo I liked was when the students and the other revolutionaries were first running in, then when they started fighting and slow mo-ing it, it was kind of lame. Thing is, I've never seen slow-mo done completely correctly. It has to be perfecty in synch otherwise it doesn't work. And that's hard to do.
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re: Les Miz - Javert's Suicide#14
Posted: 1/1/07 at 2:51am
Exactly. I also don't think the score helps either (or maybe it was just a lack of coordination between music and the company being exactly in synch).
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re: Les Miz - Javert's Suicide#15
Posted: 1/1/07 at 3:15am
The jump was fine, but I didn't get the "crawling" in the water.

I understood that he was drowning, but it looked he was crawling around on a stage with lights that resembled a flushing toilet.

Then again, I'm just not a fan of Les Mis.
Personally, I think I have too much bloom.
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re: Les Miz - Javert's Suicide#16
Posted: 1/1/07 at 3:25am
You probably remember the success of the moment more before because the lighting was considerably darker which strengthened the illusion. Post 10nth anniversary, the lighting in the show was brightened somewhat accross the boards. This effect was one of the casualties of such lighting changes. Originally the lighting was SO dim that the swirling gobo played tricks with the eye and mind. Now it looks like clunky college stagecraft.
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re: Les Miz - Javert's Suicide#17
Posted: 1/1/07 at 3:45am
The scene is done wonderfully and doesn't need the going through the stage stuff that phantom does. A lot of stuff that is in phantom is done very artistically sp? In other words, the sets during stuff like the beginning of the show when Valjean is walking through the town just shows the people he pasess. It doesn't show the entier small towns ect. That they have the audience imagen. The scucide is the same thing. I LOVE how they have Javert stand there as the bridge slowly rises. I LOVE the lighting to resembel a pool of water. It is my all time favorite stage illusions of all time. it is SO simple yet so brilliant at the same time.
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re: Les Miz - Javert's Suicide#18
Posted: 1/1/07 at 3:49am
I love the imagining aspect of it as well, but the truth is over half of the audience is gonna be like "wtf?"
I think it's creative though, coming up with that. I didn't know what to expect with Javert's suicide because I had never seen the show. It was cool considering the limitations of a stage.
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re: Les Miz - Javert's Suicide#19
Posted: 1/1/07 at 3:55am
the scucide scene is a perfect reason as to why I love Les Miserables. I love how they make it all about the stor and not all about the fancy elaborate sets.
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re: Les Miz - Javert's Suicide#20
Posted: 1/1/07 at 3:59am
The artisitic prority of the show has always been the storytelling.
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re: Les Miz - Javert's Suicide#21
Posted: 1/1/07 at 10:35am
I know. But what I ment was that they could have made lavish sets for everything. Insteaed, they decided to keep it simple and just focus in on the story. There are shows like phantom that have an interesting story (depending on who you ask) and yet they have very complex sets. I guess the point I am trying to make is that les miz could have had very complex sets and yet it choose to keept iteslf simple.


I recall reading reviews from when the show first opend. And they discribed the lack of a lot of sets dark ect.
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re: Les Miz - Javert's Suicide#22
Posted: 1/1/07 at 11:22am
cud u believe the bridge is part of the barricade? haha... hands down Les Mis' got one of the best sets. And I dont feel the whole jumpin suicide thing is bad... when I saw it in London in Palace and Queen's it was done perfectly, the Javert just jumped and havin his hand holding up as if he's fallin down and is quickly swirled/rotated into the dark and the bridge at the same time moves upwards. It's very dramatic and I love it. I think a Phantom jump wud just completely ruin it.
Having this thread make me think more clearly into the direction of Les Mis which somehow I've always taken for granted and never realise what a genius piece of direction it is at some parts and how amazingly the rotating set works (unlike in WiW) and actually how modern it is the time it was opened!
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re: Les Miz - Javert's Suicide#23
Posted: 1/1/07 at 7:43pm
Either way, kudos to any actor who plays Javert and has to do that because it must be hard to leep perfectly in synch with the music and have it make sense.

I wonder what they do when high school perform Les Mis?
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re: Les Miz - Javert's Suicide#24
Posted: 1/1/07 at 9:18pm
cud u believe the bridge is part of the barricade?
No, it's not. It only appears from Look Down to Red & Black, then comes back for Javert's Suicide.

I wonder what they do when high school perform Les Mis?
I saw one kid actually do a swan dive off the bridge upstage, behind their main set. I have no idea how he didn't crush his own skull, because there couldn't have been that much room, but it was honestly very impressive.
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