Top 10 Past Les Mis Stars
Les Miserables Tickets
Over the past 25 years the musical Les Miserables has seen many famous faces take on the iconic roles, most recently an all star cast in the movie version. We thought it would be fun to consider the top ten prolific stage performances. Some stars became famous after leaving the musical, going on to become actors in musicals all over the world, and some came to the musical with a huge fan base in tow. Each interpreted the role in their own way bringing new life to these fantastic characters.
10. Nick Jonas (Marius: West End 2010, 25th Anniversary Concert; Gavroche: Broadway 2003)
At number 10 we have the loveable Nick Jonas, the American singer-songwriter who shot to fame as part of the Jonas Brothers, performing on the Disney Channel and in films such as ‘Camp Rock’ and the ‘Hannah Montana’ series. The 19 year old singer sampled fame at an early age and immediately became a favourite with high school girls in both America and the UK. No stranger to performing on Broadway, Jonas starred in his first Broadway show at the age of 7, beginning with ‘A Christmas Carol’, ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast’. In 2003 Jonas first entered the world of Les Miserables, taking on the role of Gavroche, the young street urchin who becomes a mascot of the barricades. Seven years later he was able to return to the show in London’s West End as the student Marius, where he played for a limited engagement over the summer of 2010.
He went on to play Marius at the 25th Anniversary Concert at the O2 Arena in October 2010, gaining critical acclaim for his young and fresh portrayal. Jonas has won a number of awards including the J-14 Teen Icon Award 2010 as well as the Young Hollywood Artist of the Year award. He took over from Darren Criss in the lead role of J Pierrepont Finch in the Tony nominated revival of ‘How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying’ on Broadway which closed in 2012.
9. Kerry Ellis (Fantine: West End, 2005)
Kerry Ellis is a British singer who shot to fame in the musical theatre world before crossing over into the rock and pop genre aided by Queen guitarist Brian May. Her West End debut came in 2001 as she played Martine McCutcheon’s understudy in the role of Eliza Doolittle in ‘My Fair Lady’ at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Despite winning the Olivier Award for Best Actress, McCutcheon regularly missed performances due to illness, catapulting Ellis into the limelight. From this she was asked to audition for the new Queen musical ‘We Will Rock You’ where she was cast as the original Meat as the musical opened at the Dominion Theatre. After receiving maximum exposure she went on to join the UK tour of ‘Miss Saigon’ as Ellen, before joining the West End company of Les Miserables starring as Fantine between 27th June 2005 and 24th June 2006.
Shortly after this role she became Elphaba the Wicked Witch of the West in the 2006 musical ‘Wicked’ initially understudying Idina Menzel, but going on to take over the role in both the West End and Broadway. She began to gather a loyal fan base, taking on solo projects and appearing on national television alongside Brian May. Her debut album ‘Anthems’ was released in September 2010 which allowed the singer to perform on live TV, gaining more and more followers. More recently Kerry has been working on her solo career.
8. Gareth Gates – (UK tour 2010 – 25th Anniversary Production, Barbican. West End 2011)
Gareth Gates shot to fame on the first series of talent show ‘Pop Idol’ where he came runner up behind Will Young. Throughout the series he battled with a stutter, later becoming an ambassador for speech impediments, helping other young people by raising awareness. Despite not winning, he went on to achieve great solo success, although he now focuses on musical theatre. His first single was a cover of ‘Unchained Melody’ which became a number one UK single, going double platinum in 2002. He continued to duet with Will Young, selling millions of records and appearing on national television for projects such as Comic Relief. Despite being dropped by his record company he continued to make music, releasing a third album in 2007. In 2009 he took over the lead role in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Adelphi Theatre from Lee Mead who had also won fame my appearing in the BBC talent search ‘Any Dream Will Do’.
Cameron Mackintosh approached Gates after this performance about joining the West End production of Les Miserables in its important 25th year at the Queen’s Theatre. Gates decided to join the new touring production of the show, wanting to put his own stamp on the role of Marius. The touring production climaxed at the Barbican Centre in London, where the show originally opened, from which Gates transferred to the West End production in the same role until summer 2011. Despite many critics being initially surprised at the popstar’s crossover into a heavily sung musical, Gates met the vocal demands of the show and managed to deliver an honest portrayal of Marius that added to the fresh production qualities. Gates has been seen more recently on stage in the roles of Eddie in Loserville and Warner in Legally Blonde the Musical.
7. Ramin Karimloo – (Feuilly, understudy Marius: West End 2002/3. Enjolras, West End 2004, 25th Anniversary Concert. Valjean: West End 2011/12)
Iranian-Canadian actor Ramin Karimloo has risen the ranks of Les Miserables over the past ten years. From solo parts as one of the students, to the feisty Enjolras in the 25th Anniversary Concert, to returning to take up the role of Jean Valjean in November 2011.
Karimloo is perhaps best known for his portrayal of the Phantom in London’s second longest running musical ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ at the Her Majesty’s Theatre. In 2010 he created the role of the Phantom in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sequel to the musical ‘Love Never Dies’ which opened at the Adelphi Theatre, alongside Sierra Boggess. Despite the show receiving mixed to negative reviews, Karimloo was praised for his portrayal, receiving an Olivier Award nomination, and was asked to play the part once again in a special 25th Anniversary Performance of the original Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall, which was broadcast live all over the world.
Ramin took over the role of Jean Valjean from friend Alfie Boe, and won a 2013 Theatre Goers Choice Award for Best Takeover in a Role. Despite only being in his early 30s, he brought a depth and innocence to the role of Valjean, alongside an extraordinary vocal ability. He has secured fans all over the world and drew large audiences to the show. Ramin left Les Mis in March 2012 when his first solo album ‘Ramin’ was released by Sony Records.
6. Philip Quast (Javert: Original Australian Production 1987, West End Production, 10th Anniversary Concert)
Number six brings us to the only Inspector Javert in our list, and as many would say – the definitive. This Australian actor originated the role in the Australian Premiere production in 1987 before going on to star in London’s West End between 1989-1990 at the Palace Theatre. He can be heard on the Complete Symphonic Recording of the musical which was made in 1988 and features an international cast along with fuller orchestrations. Quast became the standard in the role after appearing at the 10th Anniversary Concert at the Royal Albert Hall, where his performance of ‘Stars’ received one of the best receptions of the evening.
Since performing with Les Mis Quast has gone on to sing all over the world, and has won the Olivier Award for Best Actor on three separate occasions, for lead roles in ‘Sunday in the Park with George’, ‘The Fix’ and ‘South Pacific’, which he performed at the National Theatre in London. In 2009 when he performed in the West End revival of ‘La Cage aux Folles’ opposite original Javert Rodger Allam. His international success has projected him into our top ten Les Mis performers.
5. Matt Lucas (M.Thenardier: 25th Anniversary Concert 2010, West End 2011)
At number five we have comedian Matt Lucas, who joined the Les Mis alumni after starring as Thenardier in the 25th Anniversary Concert at the O2 arena before taking on the role for a limited engagement throughout the summer of 2011 at the Queen’s Theatre. This cheeky comedian is no stranger to the stage, although is known by most people as the brains behind TV comedy gold ‘Little Britain’. His variety of characters ranged from Vicky Pollard to Margery Dawes, all feeding into an excellent interpretation of the shady bar tender Thenardier who is everyone’s favourite ‘master of the house’.
Lucas is a huge fan of musicals and is often quoted saying Les Miserables was his dream show to star in as he grew up. Having performed in the Boy George musical ‘Taboo’ and in a variety of plays in the West End Lucas’s dreams became a reality as he got to bring one of his favourite characters to life. After shining at the O2 concert he was asked to join the West End company for a limited period through the summer of 2011, starring alongside Alfie Boe as Valjean. Tickets for the show were sold out weeks in advance with fans fighting to see the comedian live on stage. His performance was thrilling in every aspect, and it is hoped that he will reprise this role in the future.
4. Patti LuPone (Fantine: Original London Production)
The original Broadway diva originated the role of Fantine in the London production, and can be heard on the Original London Cast Recording. Despite not transferring when the production opened on Broadway, LuPone is said to be many fans’ favourite Fantine. She received the Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical and has since gone on to feature in a wide range of successful musicals, including ‘Sunset Boulevard’ from which she was dramatically fired by Andrew Lloyd Webber after opening at the Adelphi Theatre. Over the past few years she has become associated with the musicals of American composer Stephen Sondheim, starring in Sweeney Todd, Passion, and most famously the 2008 revival of Gypsy for which she won the Tony Award for Best Actress. She is famous for her temper and over the top personality, and hit the headlines when she stopped a performance mid song to yell at an audience member for taking photos of her onstage.
Despite having never returned to Les Miserables her portrayal of the vulnerable Fantine is definitive and her recording of ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ is often cited as many people’s favourite version. It is for this reason, and her Diva like tendencies that she is number four on our charts of famous past performers.
3. Alfie Boe (Jean Valjean: 25th Anniversary Concert; West End 2011)
Tenor Alfie Boe makes it onto our top list because of his success in the West End drawing new audiences to the show after his performance at the 25th Anniversary Concert. A trained classical tenor, Boe studied opera and singing at the Royal College of Music and got his first big break in the Baz Luhrmann production of La Boheme on Broadway. He worked closely in the UK with Classic FM, and was nominated for a Classical Brit award for Best Album. He has released numerous solo albums.
On stage he has worked with the English National Opera where he starred in the musical ‘Kismet’ alongside Michael Ball, as well as productions of The Mikado and La Boheme at the London Coliseum. His portrayal of Valjean in the 2010 25th Anniversary Concert was widely acclaimed, and he went on to star in the London production for a limited run over the summer of 2011, playing his final performance on November 26th. Throughout the run he starred alongside comedian Matt Lucas, creating great pulling power to the show which remained sold out throughout their performance periods.
As such an iconic Valjean it is hoped that he will reprise his performance, although it has been immortalised on the DVD and CD of the 2010 concert at London’s O2 arena.
2. Michael Ball (Marius: Original London Production, 10th Anniversary Concert)
Narrowly missing the top spot is British Musical Theatre legend Michael Ball. Since entering the UK music charts with the hit single ‘Love Changes Everything’ from ‘Aspects of Love’, Ball has become a housewives favourite and has starred in a wide variety of different musicals. He starred as Marius in the original production of Les Miserables at the Barbican and the Palace Theatre, although had to pull out of the production early due to ill health and personal problems. He took part in the 10th Anniversary Concert of the show at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the ‘Dream Cast’ playing Marius once again alongside Ruthie Henshall and Colm Wilkinson. As age finally got the better of him, he did not play Marius in the 25th Anniversary Concert in 2010, but instead led the encore with the original cast singing the epic Act One closer ‘One Day More’.
Ball starred in productions of Phantom of the Opera, Passion and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and is always well received by fans and critics. His solo albums have been complemented by UK wide tours, as well as a number of video and DVD releases. He won Olivier Award’s for Best Actor in a Musical for portraying Edna Turnblad in the musical ‘Hairspray’ at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 2008, and Sweeney Todd opposite Imelda Staunton at the Adelphi Theatre in 2013. His charming appeal and success in the musical theatre industry has placed him at number 2 in our famous faces run down.
1. Lea Salonga (Eponine: Broadway 1993, 10th Anniversary Dream Cast Concert, London Production 1996, US National Tour, Broadway 2003. Fantine: Broadway 2007, 25th Anniversary Concert)
Top of our charts for past stars of Les Miserables is an actress and singer who has let the show take over her life, performing roles all over the world as well as for two anniversary concerts. Lea Salonga was born in the Philippines and first became noticed after creating the role of Kim in Boublil and Schonberg’s successful musical ‘Miss Saigon’, opening at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in 1989, winning the Olivier, Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics and Theatre World awards. After closing the show on Broadway she took on the role of Eponine in the 1993 Broadway production of Les Mis as the first Asian actor to play the role. Producer Cameron Mackintosh invited her to join the Dream Cast 10th Anniversary Concert at the Royal Albert Hall where her performance received great acclaim, propelling her into the West End production as the same role in 1996.
Whilst working on other musicals such as Cinderella and Flower Drum Song she continued to star in the musical on both the US National Tour and Broadway productions, often attracting new audiences. After the Broadway production returned in 2003 she played Eponine for the final time, 10 years after originally playing the role. Salonga became a Disney legend after providing the singing voices for two Disney Princesses; Jasmine and Mulan, performing the songs ‘A Whole New World’ and ‘Reflection’ at numerous concerts and Award shows all over the world.
In 2007 she played factory worker Fantine in the new Broadway production of Les Miserables, and revived this role at the 25th Anniversary Concert at London’s O2, making her one of the only stars to have appeared in both anniversary concerts. Her dedication to the musical and her full and varied career place her firmly in the number one spot.