I have been waiting to see the musical Les Miserables for almost six years now. So far, I have had tickets to see the show twice before now and twice before now something has come up and kept me from seeing the production. I almost wondered if I was doomed to never see the show. I had to live with just the original broadway soundtrack and the 25th anniversary concert. Don’t get me wrong. For the most part, both are amazing (except the fact that in the concert they decided it would be a good idea to have Marius played by one of the Jonas Brothers) and I happily relisten to the soundtrack and rewatch the concert whenever it comes online. They are very very good.
However, to me, there is always something very different between listening to the music and actually seeing the show.
A good friend of mine had found that it was touring the country again and she got balcony tickets for a group of us for really good prices. Now, while I prefer closer, I will never dis the balcony. I have seen some great stuff from the balcony?
The show started with Jean Valjean in prison, which I knew. However, they had made a slight change. Instead of him being in a prison camp type thing where he is breaking rocks all day, they had him in the galley of a war ship for France. Personally, I think this was a really good change. It makes sense. Many ships if that time for various navys were filled with individuals who had been press ganged into serving. Press ganging was pretty damn close to actually being a prisoner, so it made sense. Not to mention, it was visually appealing.
I was impressed and amused by how grity the director chose to make the show. It is a dark show. It is about a dark time in French history. The director worked with that. In varous scenes prostitutes abound on stage (this was no surprise to me as one song is named “Lovely Ladies”). What felt so grity and amusing about the show was how the horny men would pelvic thrust or grab at their groins. In one scene, a couple goes upstairs and actually begins to hump each other. Of course, as it is theatre, they are fully clothed (and quite possibly positioned so that they never actually touch each other) but it was amusing to watch the scene, especially when the couple decided to change positions mid song.
Emotionally, the show is a major rollar coaster. I knew this from listening to the soundtrack. I just had not realized just how much if a ride you would go on. Characters die left and right in the show, which is expected. It is the beginning of the French revolution. Each one gets harder and harder to watch. The worst one is the death of a young boy named Gavroche. He is the second death of the people at the barricades. He goes out to get more ammo and is shot. You hear him singing about how he’ll never give up. Your heart aches for the dying boy. But you feel this massive wrench when the boy never finishes his song due to the second gun shot.
The show reaches an emotional climax during the prayer of Jean Valjean at the barricades when he sings “Bring Him Home.” The song is very pretty to listen to and had always been one of the prettier songs in the show, but when combined with the rest of the script and the acting and everything else, it came close to producing tears. It received the longest mid show applause, and well deserved it was.
Overall, the show is beautiful and well written. When the music is combined with the sets, costumes, and actin, then the show becomes a work of art. Emotionally driven and completely beautiful, it was well worth the 6 year wait from when I first had tickets to when I actually got to see the show.