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Taylor Swift as Eponine? My Facebook friends revolt

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When adapting Broadway musicals into movies, you expect Hollywood to muck things up a little by insisting on big movie or music stars in leading roles. That’s certainly been the case with the casting of the big-screen musical version of “Les Miserables,” which finally starts shooting in March after years of talk. Fans of the show over the past months have been debating such choices as Hugh Jackman as Valjean (he’s loved on Broadway, which seems to trump most misgivings about him not having the vocal chops the role demands), Russell Crowe as Javert (more grumbles) and Anne Hathaway as Fantine (lots more grumbles).

But with the news yesterday that Taylor Swift has been cast as Eponine — beating out Lea Michele of “Glee,” who many perceived to be the front-runner for the role — lots of theater-minded folks on Facebook are expressing extreme displeasure. Sample comment:

Now I absolutely love Taylor Swift. I saw her in concert this year and have all of her albums that I bought on the day of release. But if she was cast over Lea Michele, its an obvious casting stunt. Lea was born to play Eponine. She would have blown the part out of the park. Taylor is great, but against Lea? Come on! The part should have been Lea’s hands down.

Leanna Whittney Mobley of Fresno was more succinct:

Taylor Swift, word vomit.

I’m semi-appalled about the choice of Swift, although I’ve never actually seen her act. (I missed “Valentine’s Day,” imagine that.) I think she’ll do an OK job belting out “On My Own,” but it’s hard to imagine her shining in the role’s emotional arc. I’m much happier with reports that Amanda Seyfried (who is opera-trained) has nabbed the role of Cosette. Overall, I’m extremely wary of this all-star cast lineup. The big names will get butts in the seats, but I’m worried this “Les Miserables” will turn out to be a missed opportunity.

Responses to "Taylor Swift as Eponine? My Facebook friends revolt"

Heather P says:

Her performance in Valentine’s Day was mechanical and rather flat. There was very little sense of the spontaneity and truth in the moment that the camera loves, in my opinion.

But what concerns me more is Taylor Swift’s inability to put the truth of a character– its need, its complexity, its depth of true feeling– into HER OWN SONGS.

The acting is just as important in a musical as the singing. She’s got a terrific voice. But rarely has she been able to communicate with it anything beyond the simplistic, the literal, and the one-dimensional.

So putting her in as Eponine? And over Lea Michele, a young woman with Broadway credibility and a proven ability to sing to an objective- both on stage and on camera?

Les Mis the film just became even LESS interesting to me. Although, I’d be willing to bet they’re hoping it just became more interesting to Swift’s legion of tween fans who have never been exposed to Les Mis– as opposed to Michele’s who have Les Mis memorized and hope to play Eponine themselves one day.

Amy says:

Seyfried’s publicists say she is “opera-trained”–meaning that she’s had voice lessons. I hope so. I’m more worried about her acting, which so far has been pretty unimpressive. As usual, the big names shouldn’t really be necessary since the show Les Miz is a big name itself. The producers are trying to cover themselves in case it flops. “But we got such big names….” And so we end up with another missed opportunity to have the best cast possible in a dream production. Such a shame. I hope it turns out to be good, but this isn’t the cast I would have been excited about coming out to see.