Do you hear the people sing? Singing the praises of Anne Hathaway’s singing voice? No? The actress’s pipes made their debut in a new trailer for “Les Miserables” on Wednesday. Hathaway stars as Fantine, and sings one of the show’s most famous songs, the weepy “I Dreamed a Dream.”
Fans will love her no matter what, but the reaction from some critics has been tough:
• “...An emotional and wobbly performance that will certainly be problematic for some “Les Mis” fans. (Hand raised.)” — Our own Sarah Anne Hughes
• “There's still something off about her singing, the thin kid-playing-dress-up fauxclassiness of it.” — The Atlantic Wire
Hathaway may have been doomed to fail in the eyes of ”Les Mis” purists and Broadway fans. The song has been sung by so many other famous voices — Patti LuPone and Elaine Paige among them — that there was likely no way she could ever measure up. That may have been why she took this approach: a meek and whispery rendition, rather that the traditional belt-it-out showstopper. To some, that may be a more realistic way for a dying prostitute to sing, anyway.
Love or hate the Hathaway version, she’s the latest in a long line of voices to chime in with their versions of “I Dreamed a Dream.” And fans of the musical all have their favorites, whether it’s Lea Salonga, who played Fantine in 2007 in the revival of the show, or Ruthie Henshall, who was in one of the London casts.
Personally, I’ll speak up on behalf of the unorthodox Susan Boyle version: Though her first performance of the song on “Britain’s Got Talent” didn’t come from an experienced actress, watching her exceed everyone’s expectations — not mention her total euphoria when she nails the song and wins the praise of the judges — makes it a captivating version for me. It’s nice to see “I Dreamed a Dream” with a happy ending.
Check out these versions of the song, and let us know which ones are your favorite — and what you think of Hathaway’s rendition — in the comments below.
Lea Michele and Idina Menzel, on “Glee”:
Patti LuPone, of the original London cast:
Alice Ripley’s acoustic version (She played Fantine from 1998-1999)
A previous version of this post incorrectly spelled the name of Elaine Paige.