Saw Les Mis the movie on Xmas day, along with a large amount of the population. Have seen the show four times over the last 25 years – once in London, once in NY and twice in LA. First time 1987 on Broadway. Colm Wilkinson was, of course, playing Jean Valjean – a role he originated in London, then took to Broadway in 1985, where he played Valjean for six years running. For me…his Jean Valjean is the most emotional, strong, passionate and well, angelic. When he sings Bring Him Home, it hurts your heart. It is raw and authentic and layered and gut-wrenching, all at the same time. As much as I love Hugh – and in my head, I am married to him and have been since seeing his total hip-gyrating gold-lame-wearing blockbuster performance as Peter Allen in The Boy from Oz on Broadway – (a funny funny story for another time) Colm is the only Jean Valjean. 24601.
The Valjean role in Les Mis was originally written for a baritone. “So when I went in to audition, I started jumping octaves,” says Wilkinson during an interview. He won the part the same day. “Then they rewrote it for a tenor and added the powerful ballad Bring Him Home for me. I was so fortunate.” Many years ago, I heard the story that when Colm Wilkinson sang Bring Him Home for the first time in rehearsal, the producers, who were on the fence about whether to use the song or not, sat in a stupefied silence, along with the rest of the cast, for a fair bit of time after he finished.
And thus a legend is born.