|The Teen and I|
|Sleeping Beauty and Bubbles!|
If asked, I would describe Les Miserables as a love story.
The love of a mother for her child, the love of a man for his freedom, the love of justice by students and a passionate cop.
It’s also a story about the choices we make and the results of our decisions.
When The Teen, my sister, my niece, and I had an opportunity to see the stage production of Les Miz at The Academy of Music, I was thrilled. Seeing a production on stage is my preferred method. That way I can focus not just on the main characters, but my imagination fills in details and I don’t have to watch what a director thinks is important, but also watch the additional characters on the stage.
When I first heard the musical as a teen, I was captivated by Eponine. I was a high school girl in love with the idea of unrequited love. Eponine is this girl who was permanently friend zoned. She was ME! I listened to Frances Ruffelle’s “On My Own” so much that the cassette I played became warped. I didn’t think anyone could convey her feelings until I watched Brittney Johnson’s portrayal of the tragic Eponine. Johnson has a voice that is powerful and sultry, adding a new twist to a song I have listened to for at least 20 years.
My crying started early in the production, beginning with the death of Fantine. The love a mother has for her child is a bond that I could not understand when I was a silly kid looking for a boyfriend. “I Dreamed a Dream” is both a song about the choice Fantine made for love and her disappointment with her current life. Fantine sells her trinkets, her hair, and finally herself for Cosette. Listening to The Teen’s sniffles, my heart ached, knowing that I would do the same for her and The Boy to ensure they survived.
The relationship between Jean Valjean and Javert is one of pursuit. Valjean pursues freedom and identity, while Javert pursues a perverted sense of right and wrong. Despite Valjean’s years of PHYSICAL prison, he is able move on with his life. When he finds his yellow ticket of leave prevents him from moving past his crime, he breaks parole and reinvents himself as a business owner and mayor. Javert, on the other hand, had always been physically free but he allows his questionable birth and upbringing to mentally jail him. He follows a code of right and wrong so obsessively that he drives himself mad when he is freed by Valjean.
Some highlights from the show:
- “Master of The House” is ALWAYS a favorite! This version was just as bawdy and salacious as I remember.
- Prayer seems to be a big part of this production. Valjean prays over Marius; Fantine prays for her Cosette.
- Bubbles! was HILARIOUS when she realized that the women of “Lovely Ladies” (stage whisper) were prostitutes. Her eyes widened and her mouth gaped open.
- The students fighting reminded me of UPenn students. Ready to take on a fight much greater than them, although unprepared, not realizing that this was REAL life until people began to die.
- Javert’s suicide was inventive. I couldn’t figure out how the production would stage his death, but I managed to be enthralled and surprised at this scene.
Breathtaking and brilliant are how I describe this production. Run NOW – there are still a few days left to see Les Miz at The Academy of Music. Bring tissues. It’s a four hanky production.
|A teary Teen after the show|
I enjoy the following recordings of Les Miserables. They can be purchased from Amazon.com.