Thursday, 21 April 2016

Les Misérables

45. See Les Misérables

12 hours since I left the theatre, and I am sitting here conducting the soundtrack into thin air at my desk, unable to concentrate on anything else.

Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?

It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!

Six weeks shy of my 30th birthday and I have finally been privy to the wonder that is Les Misérables, enjoying its own 30th year on London's West End.

How did it come to take me so long? I have known much of the music from various choirs, orchestras, singing lessons and piano books across the years but had never seen them put together. I missed the opportunities when it, on rare occasion, would be performed in Adelaide.

In 2012, I refused to watch the movie featuring Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman. I wanted to see it on the stage first. I didn't know if I would like it, but dammit, I wanted to see it.

By 2014, I had crumbled, and watched the [abomination] of a movie. Now I had a fair idea at least of the plot and how the music I knew so well fitted into the story line. I read as people complained that there was no speaking in the movie, and shook my head at the stupidity of humankind.

Fast forward to arriving in London in June 2014. Here was my chance: Les Misérables was performed on the West End, every night, and had been for 30 years. And I waited. I waited for discounts and special deals which never came.

When it came time to write my bucketlist for the last few weeks I have left in London, I put Les Misérables at the top. Dan and I had been saying for the longest time that we should use his theatre tokens on Les Mis, but we continuously forgot to take them into the city to buy the tickets.

Finally the day came. Tickets had been purchased a few weeks before, seats D 1 & 2. My day at work was less than ideal, but I was looking forward to that evening. I rushed out of work towards a restaurant near the theatre, blathering away to Dan about how excited I was and occasionally breaking into song.

On my own
Pretending he's beside me
All alone
I walk with him till morning

The Queen's Theatre is a beautiful theatre right in the heart of the district. I was worried about Stall seats because I often struggle to see past people, but the stage was high enough that the people in front did not obscure my view.

The show
From watching the movie, I had a sort of idea what the plot was, so I wasn't going in blind to the story line. Les Misérables is quite a complex narrative spanning multiple narratives across many years, culminating in Paris in 1823 with the uprising of the French Revolution. If you don't already know the general story line, then this blog post is probably not for you!

To be fair, I couldn't really remember what happened. And so I watched with baited breath and anticipation as the plot continued to unfold. We had the understudy for the main character Jean Valjean and honestly, he was so incredible that I felt it was a disservice for him to be the understudy.

Javert was a suitably stiff and stoic character, with a permanent frown whose staccato tone punctuated his unwavering commitment to hunting down Jean Valjean. The tragic Fantine grew higher and higher in my regard, and I loved the beauty and relaxed aura she possessed at the very end when she returned to Jean Valjean. Cosette felt a little over performed, but still possessed an incredible soprano voice and Eponine, the beautiful Eva Noblezada who I had seen previously in Miss Saigon, was wonderfully heartfelt for her rendition of On my own.

I giggled a few times throughout - not least because of the Master of the House, the wicked and immoral Monsieur Thénardier and Madame Thénardier and the small moments of comic relief are truly a relief in this ultimately tragic tale.

At the end of the show, after joining most of the crowd in a standing ovation, I turned to Dan and said,
"Can we see it again? Like, now?"

I have now spent all morning listening to each of the songs again, desperate to commit the words to memory. Les Misérables has now joined my list of favourite musicals, and has gone from a show-I-guess-I-should-see to a show-that-I-must-see-again-and-again.

Til next time,