US 3rd National Tour, Los Angeles, February 7, 2000: Part 13 ( “Valjean’s Confession” and “Wedding Chorale/Beggars at the Feast”)
Ivan Rutherford as Jean Valjean, Tim Howar as Marius, Regan Thiel as Cosette, J.P. Dougherty as Thénardier, Aymee Garcia as Mme. Thénardier.
Ivan and Tim are both spot-on in “Valjean’s Confession.” Ivan is more stoic than Hugo’s Valjean is in this scene, but this is true of his Valjean throughout, and as always, in his subtle way he still conveys his struggle and pain. I’ve heard other Valjeans be more forceful and demanding on “Promise me, M’sieur, Cosette will never know!” but the way Ivan’s voice becomes so soft and pleading instead is probably even more disarming to Marius.
Moving on to the wedding, it’s so nice to hear Marius’s exchange with the Thénardiers uncut. Éponine is remembered, her parents earn more hate with their cold, selfish response, and they build up their revelation about Valjean with just the right preamble to entice Marius – even if they do have to chase him around the ballroom to do it. I notice that Tim’s Marius tries to walk away before Thénardier brings up the “murder” (presumably he thinks they’re just going to reveal that Valjean is a convict, which he already knows), but a soon as Thénardier makes the murder claim, he becomes concerned and listens. This is different from Niklas Andersson’s London Marius in the same year (so far the only other video I’ve watched of the uncut scene), who stalked away in disgust after Thénardier made the murder claim, refusing to believe that Valjean could be a killer as well as a thief.
Regan’s Cosette looks appropriately startled and confused after Thénardier drags her into a wild spinning dance and then Marius punches hm. I wonder if she recognized him in that moment?
J.P. and Aymee do a fine job with the Thénardiers’ final flourish. Just enough slapstick to get laughs (e.g. Aymee’s pantalette-flashing fall when she tries to curtsey, the business with the dropped silver later), but not enough to turn them into caricatures. “Beggars at the Feast” is just the right exuberant uplift (however cynical the lyrics) that we need before the finale.