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no actor has any right to be this good at singing
November 24, 2012 4:32 PM   Subscribe

All things Quast. Remember Inspector Javert in the 1987 Les Mis cast? Must have been some famous world class opera singer, right? No, he was just a minor Australian actor. Who just happens to have an unbelievable voice.
posted by EnterTheStory (79 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Poor Russell Crowe.
posted by prefpara at 4:56 PM on November 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Something to crowe abou- oh bloody hell
posted by hal9k at 4:58 PM on November 24, 2012


Also, how was Stars not the example of how awesome Quast is?
posted by prefpara at 5:01 PM on November 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


wait are you people saying Quast is Russell Crowe
posted by angrycat at 5:24 PM on November 24, 2012


angrycat are you saying you have something else to be angry about
posted by infinitewindow at 5:29 PM on November 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


prefpara: "Poor Russell Crowe."

I know I had the same sliver of doubt when I saw the first trailer for the movie: Sure they're bringing in some Hollywood big names on it, but some of the finest castings in the world have already hit this one out of the park on stages worldwide. Will they be able to overcome the forces of adaptation decay and deliver a performance that competes with the best of what's come before? Or will it just be another Off-Broadway touring company delivering a passable performance, just this time on the silver screen, instead of to 3 different small towns each week? I even had some Jean Wolverjean Weapon 24601 jokes at the ready.

But then my friendly neighborhood movie theater started airing this extended first look showing their making-of process. The fact that they've given these Hollywood actors the freedom to set the tempo and delivery of each song to how they would naturally act it out as a movie scene, and then will go back to direct the orchestral score to match after the fact, instead of making them adhere to a pre-recorded score, gives me great hope that this will be a fresh and new version of the performance we know by heart.

And while new doesn't guarantee good, the fact that they're playing to their actors technical strengths bodes well. That cast knows how to make a good film, they've done so repeatedly in the past.
posted by radwolf76 at 5:39 PM on November 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


Say, is there a new les mis film coming out soon-ish...?
posted by slater at 5:40 PM on November 24, 2012


From the rotating "Did You Know" factoid section of the Quast welcome page:
Philip Quast wasn't interested in performing the role of Doctor Neville Craven in The Secret Garden. But when he heard the song 'Lily's Eyes' and was told that he would sing that with Anthony Warlow he immediately accepted the part.
I really REALLY love the musical The Secret Garden, and Lily's Eyes is a song I happily sing at the top of my voice when I'm alone, usually taking the part of Neville. (In the original Broadway Cast, Archibald was sung by Mandy Patinkin, and Neville was sung by Robert Westenberg.)
posted by hippybear at 5:52 PM on November 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


When we were younger, I remember my sister writing additional liner notes for the soundtrack, and very much agreeing with her assessment "This is a tragedy, so the best characters are the ones that die well."

Javert is outstanding in that regard, so you have to have someone especially excellent play him, because his death is pretty spectacular.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:53 PM on November 24, 2012


I have to agree with prefpara here. Stars, while not as showy a piece, gives a better sense of the character, and Quast's voice, than his performance in the suicide. Which is kind of a shame, because the suicide piece has a lot of potential, and I've loved it when others have performed it.

Also, thanks for that trailer, radwolf76; it looks much better than I had expected!
posted by blurker at 6:00 PM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Les Mis is my end all, be all favorite... Secret Garden is close behind... Worthy of immersion..
posted by pearlybob at 6:08 PM on November 24, 2012


But then my friendly neighborhood movie theater started airing this extended first look showing their making-of process.

...but then I saw the international trailer, and the few bits of Russel Crowe I heard are not heartening. But Hugh Jackman is stunning.
posted by muddgirl at 6:12 PM on November 24, 2012


I cannot wait to see this movie, in spite of Russell Crowe, whose popularity I just do. not. get. Hugh Jackman, yes indeed. Anne Hathaway, yes yes yes. Helena Bonham Carter, always a surprise. And the timing, where class-based injustices are all around us and beginning to lap at our shores in ways we can't continue to ignore...

My son's high school is doing Les Mis next spring, and he's been studying Alfie Boe and others to audition for Jean Valjean (high school plays are impressive these days, nothing like when I was in school!)

We are also going to see the touring production over Christmas in DC. Lucky, lucky us.
posted by headnsouth at 6:25 PM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Les Mis is my end all, be all favorite... Secret Garden is close behind...

Yeah, I've been kicking myself for decades that I missed the touring company of The Secret Garden oh so many years ago. For some reason, I was convinced it would be around for a while but it wasn't.

It could make a great movie, actually. (Although the most recent big screen adaptation of The Secret Garden, with Maggie Smith as Mrs. Medlock, I thought was quite successful. It was so quiet and gentle and had such a wonderfully emotional ending because I was so invested in the story. I'm not sure a filmed version of the musical would hit me quite that hard.)
posted by hippybear at 6:36 PM on November 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Let's give it a chance, I'm excited, especially for a new take on the music of course.
posted by Brocktoon at 6:40 PM on November 24, 2012


Remember Inspector Javert in the 1987 Les Mis cast?

This kind of framing is annoying to me. As in I'm supposed to be in the know about the 1987 Les Mis cast, and know what Les Mis even is, and if I don't, then I'm some kind of Phillistine.

Maybe I'm just a wee bit too sensitive today.
posted by zardoz at 6:55 PM on November 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


and know what Les Mis even is

It is possibly the most famous and popular musical of all time. That doesn't make you an ignoramous for not knowing it, but it's a hell of a lot more well known than, say, The Wire and knowledge of that is pretty much assumed in a lot of FPPs.

Knowing which performer was cast in which year and so on, yeah, not so much.
posted by Justinian at 7:01 PM on November 24, 2012


I agree that the legit live singing is a great choice, but they didn't cast Matt Lucas and that is a tragic mistake.

But the really interesting question is not who should be in the dream team cast of Les Mis.

The really interesting question is how to cast a muppet Les Mis. It's not as obvious as you might think - besides Kermit as Valjean.
posted by prefpara at 7:03 PM on November 24, 2012 [10 favorites]


Great singer? Absolutely. Must be some kind of great opera singer? Nope, no more likely than having earned his chops at the Grand Ol' Opry; his performance as Javert is simply not operatic. (And, no, while I'm a big fan of the musical, I neither remember him nor this version, particularly.)
posted by IAmBroom at 7:11 PM on November 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sam The Eagle would have to be Javert.
posted by hippybear at 7:13 PM on November 24, 2012 [18 favorites]


Miss Piggy is so tough. Is she Eponine? Is she Madame Thernadier?
posted by prefpara at 7:17 PM on November 24, 2012


She's Fantine, of course.
posted by hippybear at 7:19 PM on November 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


The really interesting question is how to cast a muppet Les Mis. It's not as obvious as you might think - besides Kermit as Valjean.

I did this in eighth grade and even remember doing bad photoshopped (or photoshop knockoff image editing) pictures of Muppet Miz cast. I, too, had Sam the Eagle as Javert. I wish I could find the pictures.

Ah, memories of being a young theatre dork.
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 7:22 PM on November 24, 2012


Consider Gonzo as Javert before you decide.
posted by prefpara at 7:23 PM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


No no, Gonzo is the Bishop at the beginning. It's a small part, but important and is very fitting for him.
posted by hippybear at 7:25 PM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Or Gonzo as Enjolras with Rizzo as Grantaire.
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 7:26 PM on November 24, 2012


Gonzo as the Bishop is strong. I relent.
posted by prefpara at 7:30 PM on November 24, 2012


I dunno, guys. My brain thinks Rowlf is a better Bishop. Gonzo would clearly have to be be Thénardier. Madame Thénardier is a bit more of a mystery to me, though my strange, strange brain keeps wanting to plug Beaker in there.
posted by badgermushroomSNAKE at 7:34 PM on November 24, 2012


I'm not sold on Kermit as Valjean, even though he's the main character. Kermie could be a good Marius, setting up a jilted Piggy as Eponine.
posted by Wulfhere at 7:36 PM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


It has just occurred to me that this is going to be a singing movie.

If you want a non-singing Les Miserables film, the 1998 Liam Neeson movie isn't bad.
posted by hippybear at 7:40 PM on November 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I buy Kermie as Marius more than as Jean, for sure. Kermit is a Gary Stu, which fits Marius far better than it fits Jean Valjean.

Also, I would like to amend my previous casting to give Camilla the part of Madame Thénardier. How could I have forgotten her?!
posted by badgermushroomSNAKE at 7:42 PM on November 24, 2012


Also, in a story where so many people are starving, where do you fit in the Sweedish Chef?
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 7:49 PM on November 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'd cast Miss Piggy as Madame Thénardier, though she'd insist on being Fantine and karate chop me into the orchestra pit.

The problem is there aren't very many female Muppets. We've got Piggy, Camilla, Janice, and... who else? Do we have to give Young Cosette to Abby Cadabby?
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:50 PM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, in a story where so many people are starving, where do you fit in the Sweedish Chef?

Maybe we can add an extra scene to the beginning where we see Jean Valjean steal the loaf of bread. In that case, the Swedish Chef would of course be the baker, who would come after him with a rolling pin, shouting in mingled Swedish-French gibberish. "Bork bork! Il humpty stealin' baguettey bork bork!"
posted by badgermushroomSNAKE at 7:55 PM on November 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


As long as there will be no more Jonas brothers, I'm good.
posted by Melismata at 7:55 PM on November 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also, in a story where so many people are starving, where do you fit in the Sweedish Chef?

"Master of the House" will sound fantastic in Swedish.
posted by meese at 8:00 PM on November 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


As long as there will be no more Jonas brothers, I'm good.

From your lips to God's ears.
posted by hippybear at 8:01 PM on November 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


It is possibly the most famous and popular musical of all time

The book's not too shabby either, you know.
posted by kenko at 8:02 PM on November 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


I mean, I can relate. When I was pedaling around France for the summer, I wondered who the f--k Victor Hugo was, and why it seems every town from small village to Paris had a, Rue Victor Hugo.

And that Charles de Gaulle guy.

I think I still know more about, as they say, Les Mis from American Psycho than anything else.

Although I think we sung a Les Mis medley in chorus or something..
posted by alex_skazat at 8:25 PM on November 24, 2012


Robin as Gavroche? Clifford as Enjolras? Sweetums as Thernardier?

Getting back on topic: Mmmm, Philip Quast *swoon*
posted by Melismata at 8:28 PM on November 24, 2012


I think I still know more about, as they say, Les Mis from American Psycho than anything else.

The book is incredible. It's one of those old-style digression-filled novels. One of my favorite moments is when Valjean is running away from Javert and he hops over this wall and lands in the yard of a convent...

... and then Hugo spends 100 pages or so giving you the entire history of the convent from before its founding to the moment where the wall is hopped.

And then you're back on with the main story.

The book is filled with things like that. It's sort of the French Moby Dick in that way, except the digressions are all about Paris history rather than whale hunting.
posted by hippybear at 8:29 PM on November 24, 2012 [11 favorites]


hippybear: " It's sort of the French Moby Dick"

Split your lungs with blood and thunder when you see Prisoner 24601!
posted by radwolf76 at 8:46 PM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know, there have been human actors in Muppet movies playing major roles (Michael Caine as Scrooge, for example), so not all parts would have to be Muppets.

Though I did have a vision of Michael Caine as Javert tormenting Kermit as Jean Valjean.

Oh my.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:47 PM on November 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


in spite of Russell Crowe, whose popularity I just do. not. get.

Go watch The Insider. I'm pretty sure he only won the Oscar for Gladiator because he was robbed the year before.
posted by stopgap at 8:51 PM on November 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


The book is staggering. And Dumas' decision to drop a desperate Jean Valjean carrying Marius into the sewers of Paris, followed hotfoot by Javert AND THEN SPEND THE NEXT FIVE CHAPTERS TALKING ABOUT THE LAYOUT AND HISTORY OF THE *FUCKING* SEWERS OF PARIS before showing us the outcome made me want to dig him up and throw rocks at him.

But it's a magnificent book.
posted by jrochest at 8:56 PM on November 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Hugo's decision, barring shocking literary revelations.
posted by kenko at 9:00 PM on November 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


And Dumas' decision to drop a desperate Jean Valjean carrying Marius into the sewers of Paris, followed hotfoot by Javert AND THEN SPEND THE NEXT FIVE CHAPTERS TALKING ABOUT THE LAYOUT AND HISTORY OF THE *FUCKING* SEWERS OF PARIS before showing us the outcome made me want to dig him up and throw rocks at him.


Dumas is the other one, who made the movie with Raquel Welch.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 9:20 PM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm more familiar with Sesame Street than The Muppet Show. Oscar the Grouch as Thenardier?
posted by madcaptenor at 9:39 PM on November 24, 2012


Oscar the Grouch as Thenardier?

Surely the Cookie Monster? "Me raise me eyes to the heavens, but me only see the moon... the cookie moon... omm nom nom nom"
posted by muddgirl at 10:05 PM on November 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


"Master of the House" will sound fantastic in Swedish.

It does.
posted by Wordwoman at 10:47 PM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Okay, Cookie Monster as Thenardier and Oscar as Mme Thenardier.
posted by madcaptenor at 10:49 PM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had no idea how this thread would already have 51 comments; I'd guessed there would be a "why is this important?"conversation but I didn't see the Muppets Les Mis thread coming. I love you all.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:01 PM on November 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


I haven't been active in Les Miserables fandom since the late nineties, but at the time, Quast was most fans' favorite Javert and the creators' go-to casting for projects that combined actors from different productions (the Complete Symphonic Recording; the 10th Anniversary Concert that used to be in heavy rotation on PBS). He really is the guy Crowe has to follow, a canonical performance in much the same way that Colm Wilkinson's Valjean and Michael Ball's Marius are canonical. I'm looking forward to the new film, but it is good to appreciate the history that the show already has.

(Meanwhile, now I won't be happy until I can see Michael Caine play Javert opposite Kermit the Frog.)
posted by thesmallmachine at 11:19 PM on November 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was wondering why Philip Quast seemed familiar, he was on Play School!
posted by onya at 11:23 PM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was wondering why Philip Quast seemed familiar, he was on Play School!

That was my thought exactly! Noni and John were always my favourites though.
posted by Kris10_b at 12:49 AM on November 25, 2012


Ha. I caught that Le Mis show on a late night, can't sleep PBS airing back in... 1995-96? Managed to tape it on a subsequent showing (on VHS.) Have the DVD around here somewhere. That was always one of my favorite parts.

(Although the Lea Salonga parts are really where it's at.)
posted by Cyrano at 1:14 AM on November 25, 2012


(There's also a pretty decent chance you recognize the Japanese Valjean here at the end of that show.) (It's at 2:19)
posted by Cyrano at 1:24 AM on November 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Philip Quast will always be the definitive Javert to me; he not only has a beautiful voice, but an amazing stage presence. I think many subsequent actors taking on the role of Javert have looked to his performance for inspiration. I saw a semi-professional local production of Les Miserables only a few weeks ago and the young man playing Javert was clearly attempting to emulate Quast's style of performance (and wasn't doing too badly, either!).

Lea Salonga is by far my favourite Eponine. Michael Ball IS Marius. And, although he never actually played Val Jean in a production, Anthony Warlow would have rocked the part (I do love Colm Wilkinson, but I always felt there was something slightly lacking in his voice for me to totally embrace his performance).
posted by Defying Gravity at 1:56 AM on November 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Okay, Cookie Monster as Thenardier and Oscar as Mme Thenardier.

Yes! And for some reason I see Big Bird as Marius.

Damn, Sesame Street has a lack of lady puppets.
posted by muddgirl at 5:26 AM on November 25, 2012


Famous lady puppets, anyway.
posted by muddgirl at 5:40 AM on November 25, 2012


If we're branching out to all puppet characters, then Madame Thernadier is clearly played by Marjorie the Trash Heap from Fraggle Rock.
posted by prefpara at 5:50 AM on November 25, 2012


I would definitely go the Muppet Christmas Carol route and have a human Valjean.

Takeshi Kaga is amazing; he has done a lot of musical acting in Japan - including West Side Story, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Jekyll & Hyde.
posted by Gordafarin at 11:39 AM on November 25, 2012


Some people have thought about this before, and Shalom Sesame did a song "Matzah in the House" on a Passover episode.
posted by madcaptenor at 11:59 AM on November 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Flying Lew Zealand or Link Hogthrob as Enjolras?

Beaker as Cosette?
posted by Madamina at 12:24 PM on November 25, 2012


Kermit needs to be Valjean, and Sam the Eagle is a great Javert. Whoever suggested Gonzo and Rizzo as Enjolras and Grantaire is totally right-- they're perfect. I want Miss Piggy for Fantine, but I also suspect that Marius and Cosette need to be played by humans, which doesn't quite work. Hm. Obviously this will require more thought. I have been listening to the Les Mis soundtrack pretty much nonstop in preparation for the movie, so this is not a hardship AT ALL.
posted by nonasuch at 12:57 PM on November 25, 2012


Yeah I must say, I think "minor Australian actor" is really sellling Quast a bit short. I mean, the man has worked and starred internationally in a wide variety of television shows and musicals, and his Javert is widely regarded as one of - if not - the best.
posted by smoke at 2:20 PM on November 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Prairie Dawn would make a pretty great Cosette - obviously opposite Grover as Marius!
posted by ChuraChura at 5:26 PM on November 25, 2012


I had no idea that Les Miserables geeks who swap performers like baseball cards was a thing.
posted by mecran01 at 6:24 PM on November 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Actually, now that I think about it, the obvious Marius is Walter, the newest star Muppet. It makes total sense, career-wise, for him to take another large role quickly, and he's perfect for the part.

He can whistle Empty Chairs At Empty Tables and break your heart.
posted by hippybear at 7:50 PM on November 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Guys. Guys.

Statler and Waldorf as the Thenardiers.
posted by nonasuch at 8:10 PM on November 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Statler and Waldorf as the Thenardiers.

I see your point, and acknowledge it, but all I'm saying is that there's one character in that play who embodies the "fuck you, I'll judge your ass all I want" ethos that Statler and Waldork espouse...and his name is Gavroche.
posted by badgermushroomSNAKE at 8:17 PM on November 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have no sides picked in the Muppet Le Mis casting battle. I'm too excited about the Muppet Le Mis fighting game!

But let's be real: the best choice for Fantine can only be the cross-cast Big Bird of blue.
posted by nicebookrack at 8:25 PM on November 25, 2012


@muddgirl Big bird as Marius? Agree completely. I've never seen the musical (but have seen most of the dream cast show). But I've read the book, and Marius is a nice guy, an important guy, a big presence, a serious guy, but lacks the depth of a Valjean or Eponine. Big Bird would be ideal.

Incidentally, I never forgave Marius for using Eponine. He falls for a girl just because she has enough money to dress well and her "grandfather" brought her up to be confident yet so coy. But Marius is blind to the girl who had the strength to be a hero, more than once, despite the father from hell. It's not Cosettes' fault, but she isn't worthy to lace Eponine's shoes (if Eponine could afford shoes).

Valjean could have found somebody else for Cosette. He had the means and she had a sheltered life and rigid requirements so it would work. But Eponine is Eponine: really she's too good for Marius, but if she wants him then by golly he should jump at the chance and thank his lucky stars.

Mind you, I always suspected that marriage to Cosette might not be as much fun as he imagines. She is raised to hate men, by strict nuns who never wash, and a paranoid father. Yet Marius is a passionate Bohemian. This does not bode well. I give Marius 12 months tops before he's at a brothel and drinking heavily to dull the pain of having to go back home.

On second thoughts, marrying Cosette is Marius' punishment for what he did to Eponine. There is karma.
posted by EnterTheStory at 4:01 AM on November 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


I had no idea that Les Miserables geeks who swap performers like baseball cards was a thing.

This seems like a common internet passtime for lots of media - "who would YOU cast for the movie version of this book?" and so on. It's also quite similar to the "what D&D alignment fits each character on a show/in a book" game. They're all different ways to talk about characterization.

Incidentally, I never forgave Marius for using Eponine.

I just started the book, and am still dwelling in the world of a uniquely moral and uncorrupted bishop, but in the musical they make it pretty clear that Eponine only pines from afar and Marius has good reason to think that they are just good friends (which makes her otherwise-amazing solo number a bit of a Nice Guy plea, "He could have me! If only he wanted me!"). But a lot of fans point to the relationship between Marius and Cosette (and to some extent, Valjean) as a weak point in the musical.
posted by muddgirl at 7:13 AM on November 26, 2012


her otherwise-amazing solo number

You mean the low point of the musical? "On My Own" could not be a worse song in terms of who Eponine is as a person. Bitch put her hand in front of a gun, she is not about to drown her self pity in cloying lyrics like "And when I lose my way I close my eyes/And he has found me."

The French lyrics are a different story. Yes the streets fucking belong to her. Yes she writes her own story and fuck you if you don't approve or understand. Ahhhh you guys. It's so much better and truer to the story.
posted by prefpara at 8:40 AM on November 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


You mean the low point of the musical? "On My Own" could not be a worse song in terms of who Eponine is as a person.

EnglishMusical!Eponine is pretty explicitely quite pathetic. That's who she is as a person.
posted by muddgirl at 8:45 AM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Also, my understanding is that the whole English version of the musical softens the strong political statements of the French, from Fantine onwards. I always see the closing "Do You Hear The People Sing" as more of a religious statement of faith, rather than a political one.)
posted by muddgirl at 8:48 AM on November 26, 2012


I see Statler and Waldorf getting involved in more slapstick, behind-the-scenes stuff ... perhaps operating the revolving-floor set and fixing it when it gets stuck, or something like that.
posted by Melismata at 12:23 PM on November 26, 2012


Since this seems to be the active Metafilter Muppet thread at the moment, have some holiday cheer.
posted by radwolf76 at 6:42 PM on November 26, 2012


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