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.
I also love Les Mis, but my journey started with the movie. Saw the stage show five times: community college in 2013: that was 3x since I saw it twice as an usher and once with family, West End (2015) and North American tour (2011). To detail my entire journey with Les Mis might take but have a post on it somewhere on my blog.
This company is so talented and so powerful and so passionate and epic. I saw it in Greenville with my school and ended up with an understudy as Eponine. I loved seeing this tour and really love seeing the 25th anniversary production. It added a new level of complexity to the story.
You are most certainly a musical aficionado! And a Les Mis fan, as well! I have to agree– this touring company is an extremely talented group.
I grew up on musicals.
I first saw musicals in elementary school, but don’t remember seeing them.
In 2006, I saw my first show on Broadway at the age of 12. My mom and I saw Wicked and that musical sparked my love for musicals. It was the musical where I began to understand the emotional and complex side of musicals.
Than Les Mis comes along through the movie. Growing up, I thought ALL musicals were HAPPY. I had interpreted all the ones I seen to be that way, but capable to sadness at times. Les Mis decided to change everything. I realized that some musicals were tragic and I realized there was much more depth to musical emotions than I thought and I realized I was 100% blind to heartbreak. I was that high school girl who thought that tragedies were pure sad and nothing else so I ignored them and told myself I will never love one, but Les Mis proved me wrong. I showed a side to musicals I never saw before. It turned my love of musicals into a passion.
Other musicals I love include Rent, Newsies, Sound of Music, Pippin, Music Man, Annie, Phantom of the Opera, Beauty and the Beast, Les Mis, and Wicked.
I think that the Les Mis musical more accurately reflects true life than some other shows. Life isn’t a happy musical most of the time… there are some really difficult things and challenges many people face. So I think Les Mis is more realistic that way. And the other great thing about it is that though it shows those difficulties, it isn’t hopeless. Through Les Mis, we can see how one small act of kindness changed the trajectory of one man’s life, Valjean’s, who had every reason to be bitter, to someone who then went on to change others’ lives. We can see that though there are reasons and opportunities to take revenge, it isn’t the only (and best) response. So, I can appreciate why Les Mis changed your view of musicals. It is is a deeper, more meaningful story, one that I think most people can relate to at some level or another. Plus, the music is just outstanding, and all of those ingredients combine to make it into something really excellent. It isn’t simply a feel-good performance just for the sake of entertainment. However, we do need purely entertaining ones, too, because we all need to laugh and forget the cares of life for a while and enjoy ourselves. 🙂
But I do like musicals, too, and there are a number of good ones I have not seen, and you’ve got a great list there.
Les Mis is very realistic. I do not relate to the characters much, but can relate to the underlying spirituality. It is a very realistic musical in so many ways Its songs are brilliant in so many ways. The lives of the characters are so interconnected and they directly and indirectly impact each others lives. I l
It is hard to really describe why I love Les Mis as much I do
I think you do explain it well: this musical, more than most, is quite open about spirituality and shows the power of God changing a person’s life, i.e., Valjean. It shows how we struggle with sin, choices, and what’s really great is that we get to see right into the heart of Valjean and Javert as they struggle with understanding who God is and how they end up each responding differently to God. We see Javert – and how hard it was for him to accept truly God’s love and believe others’ lives could be transformed by God’s love. We see how Valjean is completely transformed.
I think it’s great that so many people are drawn to this show. Hopefully, it will encourage many to think about God and wrestle with some of the same issues as these characters did and think about some of the spiritual questions that the show brings up.
And yes, it is brilliant how their lives interconnect with one another. This entire show is just brilliant!
I’m so glad you are commenting here and we can “talk” about this show. 🙂
It is a very heartbreaking musical but is much more than that. So many aspects of love. Hope in the midst. Sacrifice for what you believe. Compassion and forgiveness for others. Humanity representing the worst and best of us. Redemption.
Yes… it is all those things.
I saw Les Mis last Wednesday. It was simply beautiful. I was blown away by the amazing voices. Bring Him Home almost took my breath away. That actor’s voice was incredible! All of the singers blew me away compared to the movie. Definitely one of my favorites.
It was indeed beautiful! I agree with everything you said. They were so talented. And Bring Him Home- that was amazing. I felt as if they gave all they had; it wasn’t mediocre by any means, or half-hearted. They poured themselves out, and it showed. Regarding the movie– it’s just not the same. But then again, there’s something special and magical about live music and a live performance! So glad you got to see it. 🙂