I went to see Les Mis as it recently came through my city…
Years ago, I saw the musical Les Miserables when it was showing in London. I was captivated by the beautiful music and moved by the incredible story. I was on a study abroad semester in London and one of our courses was a theater/arts course, and as part of the course, we attended a few musicals and plays. (That is where I first saw the musical “Cats”, too).
Well, I am now a lifelong fan of this show. I bought the CD soundtrack that evening after the show was over. I still have it, though I hardly ever use a CD player anymore since all kinds of music are easily available online now.
I saw it once more in the U.S. a few years after that when a traveling company came through town, but my seats were so far back, I’m not sure it was worth it and it wasn’t quite the same quality as what I remembered, but my parents went, too, and they got to see it.
A few years ago when the movie version was released, of course, I went to the theater to see the movie version. I was with a group of friends, and we went to the Budget Theater and saw it for $1. I think overall it was good, but the quality of the movie (worn out a little) was most definitely a little less. Also, I didn’t quite like all the casting choices. Just my unsolicited opinion (which no one asked for nor cares, ha!)
So, since a high-quality production of this show just rolled into town, I wanted to go, because, well, it is my favorite show, and it’s been years since I’d seen it in person. I know, I know… I didn’t HAVE to see it. But I really WANTED to. Also, I really wanted to take my kids along, but for various reasons, it wasn’t possible for them to go this time (time, $$$, etc.), so I actually posted on FB asking if anyone wanted to see it – and that worked – a friend who hadn’t seen it but wanted to and was willing to go responded.
It turned out to be fabulous. The singers were outstanding; I was blown away by their voices and abilities. It was very well done. I was happy… especially since the ticket price was very steep. Just every bit as wonderful as I remembered. Casting? Spot on. Singing? Amaazing. Acting? Perfecto. Set? Incredible.
I WISH I had been able to record the entire thing to watch it later, but that was not allowed. Oh, well. Here are some clips of songs from the show (these are old ones, all from YouTube).
I Dreamed a Dream…this song. This song made my professor cry when we were in London. He was our “prof-in-residence.” And yes, he actually cried. (Nice person, he was. He taught Biology there.) It is a heart-rending song.
Javert and Valjean confront each other, after years of Javert searching for him. I love this piece, the music, and with both singing at the same time; I think it’s brilliant.
On My Own… One of my favorites. Also heart-rending. In case you do not know the story, Eponine is in love with Marius… but Marius loves Cosette… and well, you can guess the rest, after listening to the song.
Red and Black… they have to decide- will they fight? What reasons must they wrestle with to make this decision? Great song.
Bring Him Home … this is one of the most beautiful songs ever. It is a prayer by Jean Valjean for Marius, because Marius loves his daughter, Cosette. Paris is catapulted in battle, and Valjean is pleading for the safety of Marius. It’s quite a moving song.
At the performance the other day, the singer performing the role of Jean Valjean did such an outstanding job at the end of this solo, he received quite a long span of applause. It was the longest in the entire show (except at the very end of the show). It was incredible. Besides just singing it remarkably well, and performing well, he held out that last note for a very long time….
In fact, people applauded after most of the major scenes. It was a bit of an interruption to the flow of the show (in my opinion), but yet, on the other hand, I appreciate the audience’s response, because it was done so very well, and I know that it certainly gives fuel and inspiration to the performers when audiences respond so favorably.
One Day More…. a medley – various plots/subplots happening here…
Empty Chairs and Empty Tables… and other beautiful (but sad) piece (so many beautiful songs in this show!). Marius has survived a serious attack (he doesn’t know how he survived at this point in the show). At this point, Marius realizes he has survived but many of his friends have not. Think about it… how would you feel if this happened to you? Seeing all your friends die in a battle- but you alone survive?
There are many more songs, of course. These are just a few.
I know most of the words so I had to force myself not to mouth the words along – though I was thinking along in my head. Haha. Spoiler: I might have wiped a tear when Eponine died. The music of the entire show is absolutely wonderful. I was thankful to go. And to be honest… this is one show I’d actually JOIN and travel along. Or perform in for a long time in the same place (even better)… if, you know, if I had to live my life over and choose some other professions or things to do? I’d sign up for this, as one of those things. I’d do musicals. (Or maybe join a band and sing and travel! Ha. Seriously. I’ve thought about it. One person I graduated with is part of a group called Little Big Town. Look them up. True story.) I’ve never been in a musical; I’ve been in plays but not a musical. My small-town high school did not have a theater department. Very sad and disappointing. Neither did we have a newspaper. I’d have signed up for both of those. And when I went to college, I had so much other studying to do, I did not have time for full-fledged productions, though I did join a creative worship team and traveled to churches in the area. We sang, performed skits, and other creative little things. Close enough to these things, I guess. One of the members of our group is a well-known actor now, starring in “Veep” along with Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Another true story. Go figure!
Other shows I’d like to see? Hamilton. Wicked. At some point….
I’ve seen “Phantom of the Opera” in New York. Wonderful and beautiful. Amazing. More beautiful music. And incredible singing voices.
But, Les Mis remains my favorite.
Well, that’s my post on the musical… because I can’t think of anything else to write about today and nothing else is ready to post yet. I could spend time relating the entire story… but I think you should look it up yourself and I do not want to spoil the whole story for you if you do not know what happens. It sure is powerful to see it on your own. This was my 3rd time to see it on stage and 4th if you count the movie. And I’d sign up to see it again. You probably think I’m a nut. Oh, well. I guess people have gone crazy to see Star Wars movies. I never considered myself in this category, but perhaps it holds true for the Les Mis musical in my case.
If you want to see more, or hear most of the musical score, here is the 10th-anniversary concert (over 2 hours long). It’s a concert- so you’ll hear most of the songs, but not all the story acted out with the set and some missing details in between scenes. But it’s almost the same as my CD, which I enjoy listening to. Hope you enjoy it.
And the next time a musical rolls into your town… try to go see it. Splurge and take your kids to at least one high-quality musical production. It’s so worth it.
And finally, I might add… it was a great story to see around the time of Easter… the themes of forgiveness, mercy, redemption, sacrifice… they fit.