The story of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables has been woven into my family since before I was born.
My parents experienced the Broadway musical adaptation before ascending the Empire State Building, where my dad proposed. I grew up with the soundtrack and had the entirety memorized before I was 10 (or shortly thereafter). I also enjoyed the 2012 film, which I later compared to the book for my 10th-grade Literature & Film class.
When my family and I visited New York back in 2016, we wanted to watch Les Miz on Broadway but were not aware of the months in advance you need to book tickets. Therefore, when the production was scheduled to be in our very own downtown, my mom reserved tickets as a late Christmas present.
I had forgotten just how filthy the first act is, with its un-Godly lifestyles and crude humor. My enjoyment of the second act, however, far surpassed my distaste of the first.
The company did a brilliant job presenting a familiar tale anew. Imparticular, I finally came to know the lack of chemistry between Marius and Eponine (versus merely understanding the logic of the plot). I actually don’t mind Marius and Cosette together, but I don’t like how it hurts Eponine.
I was also piqued by a new pronunciation of “Marius.” The actors were saying “Marry-us” while I have always pronounced the name “Mar-ree-us.” However you say it, the character invoked laughter when he squeaked-out his first lines in “A Heart Full of Love.” One final new-to-me tweak of the story was when Eponine snuck in a kiss before expiring at the end of “A Little Fall of Rain.” 😔 I teared up when Gavroche gave Marius her hat. 😢
The performance also included exceptional singing, “On My Own” and “Bring Him Home” being two of my highlights. Javert’s death was also phenomenal. I was expecting merely the use of death angels, but the additional sudden elevation of props and the use of graphics on the backdrop made the scene’s finale so much more applause-worthy. 👏🏼
The epilogue was the first song of the musical I memorized as a little girl. As the night’s performance came to an end, however, the familiar melody reminded me of a truth not always at the forefront of my mind: to love another person is to see the face of God. 😌
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