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To Belt or Not to Belt

May 30, 2012

I just watched the Les Misérables trailer and my musical theatre-loving heart is all atwitter, so forgive me if this isn’t the most coherent of posts.

Let me just say this: It’s astonishing the difference a chesty belt vs. a clear head voice can make in the general tone and emotional resonance of a song. Both are legitimate interpretive choices, but . . . wow! I couldn’t be more impressed with Anne Hathaway!

The almost cold quality of Hathaway’s head voice seems to bring a haunting emptiness to the moment. Whereas Henshall and every other stage Fantine really hit on the bubbling, yet impotent, anger at their own helplessness. Both hit on the misery of les misérables, but in different ways. Hathaway’s interpretation would never work on stage–it’s far to small–but I think it’s perfect for this film adaptation.

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