How many names can you remember when you talk about Les Miserables' Fantine?
Of course, let's start from London's original English language production since Rose Laurens did not really perform I Dreamed A Dream the way we now know it. Although, I should say the musical we're acquainted with may not have existed if Alain Boublil had not done that.
Enough about that, though. Let's return to the question. First, there was the legendary Patti LuPone. Skip... Skip... Skip... Then, there was Ruthie Henshall. Skip... Skip... Skip...
And then, the bar was pushed to the heavens. Lea Salonga got to play the part.
She has had quite a history with the show. She played Eponine in 1993 on Broadway, and again in 1995 during the show's 10th Anniversary in a Dream Cast Concert where she performed her famous rendition of On My Own. In 2006, she was asked by the producers of the show to play Fantine in its Broadway revival, replacing Daphne Rubin-Vega.
Now, most recently and most spectacularly, she played Fantine yet again in the show's 25th Anniversary Concert at The O2, where she was said to have loftily raised the bar for her character's signature song.
In my opinion (along with others'), her rendition of this song is quite simply the most poignant and the most powerful of all. There's just really nothing quite like it. When she sings the song, it's quite obvious that she loses herself in it, but she still manages to do it with sheer perfection.
The stand-out performer from the principal cast was undoubtedly Les Mis legend Lea Salonga as Fantine. Salonga’s career-long type-casting role could probably be described as ‘feisty, determined but doomed’, whether they are calling her Kim, Eponine or, in this case, Fantine then the result is always the same – a performance of the very highest order. Salonga’s belt hasn’t deteriorated over the years, and after giving that performance all those years ago to similar results, was deserving of her show-stopping ovation. Salonga was undoubtedly the finest pure performer on stage at this concert.
- Dickie and Butch
She stated a couple of times in a number of interviews that the power she gets when singing I Dreamed A Dream owes itself to the existence of her daughter. There really is nothing more joyful in the world than to have borne life and delivered it into the world.
Here, watch this and be inspired, too...
And here's another captured scene from Fantine's Arrest. She gets extremely emotional singing here. I know, for a fact, that Lea always gets emotional playing Fantine, but this was almost extreme. Her crying was affecting her singing. She's awesome that way. My heart sank watching this clip.