Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sob Story

You know you're bored when you go through almost two years of blogs adding labels because you're tired of having to hunt through them when you want to look for something specific.


So you may have figured out that I'm kind of into Broadway show tunes. A little bit. If, you know, by a little bit you mean "so massively it's probably a little ridiculous." It all started with Les Miserables.

I'd heard of it before, but I didn't really "discover" Les Mis until ninth grade, in French class. We watched a non-musical movie version (I would assume the most recent one, but I really don't know) in class, and the teacher also played a little bit of the soundtrack once or twice. I don't know what it was, but something just clicked for me and I kind of went into an "OhMyGoshLESMIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" mode for a while - so much so that the second cd I acquired was the Broadway Highlights soundtrack as a birthday present. Or maybe Christmas. Whatever. All I had to play it with was a slightly crappy walkman with either headphones or these tiny little speakers, but I finally had my own room so I spent a lot of time with the door shut and the music blasting. Well . . . as blasting as it got with speakers smaller than my fist.

I've had a bit of an obsession with Les Mis ever since, and my . . . I don't know, sister-obsession I guess . . . with show tunes in general grew out of it. (And out of my participation in the drama department in high school. But that is a story for another day.) It became a dream of mine to see Les Mis on Broadway - those of you who have been reading for a loooooooooooooooong while may - but probably do not - remember that I was absolutely devastated when it closed about six years ago.

My dad didn't get why. For my 17th birthday my parents gave me a copy of the novel - unabridged, of course - and tickets to the touring show in Salt Lake . . . which didn't actually get to Salt Lake until almost a year later, but it was great having something to look forward to for so long. I read the book (1488 pages) in a week. It had been a long time since I'd carried a book around with me and read at every spare moment . . . and some that weren't so spare . . . like during class . . . not just empty moments . . . but while teaching was going on too. Probably didn't help my already dismal honors chem grade, but I really probably shouldn't have taken honors chem in the first place. And I read the WHOLE THING in SEVEN DAYS. I still rank that among my most impressive achievements.

The show, to put it epically simply, was amazing. I was spellbound and breathless from the moment the first notes of the overture sounded. I loved it. I used every ounce of my daddy's-little-girl-powers to wheedle a souvenir keychain out of my dad, because guess what? They sell souvenirs at Broadway shows! Who knew?!? Well, I didn't, at the time. Anyway, it was beautiful, it was fabulous, it was stunning, it was wonderful . . . there just aren't enough adjectives to describe how I felt about the show. Also: I may have tried to wheedle more tickets to go again the next night. Or every remaining performance. Yeah, that kinda didn't happen. And a few years later when the show closed on Broadway and I was upset my dad was all "you've already seen it," which I found exasperating. I don't think he got it when I told him it wasn't the same.

Moving on, I picked up the original London Soundtrack somewhere along the line in college, but I have yet to add the original Broadway Soundtrack to my collection, which is a little sad because they did some rewriting when they brought it across the pond, and I rather prefer the Broadway versions better . . . particularly "On My Own" and "Stars."

So. To finally start to come to the point. Les Mis originally opened in 1985. Making last year the 25th anniversary. And they did a one-night-only concert performance in London. And filmed it. And it's amazing. And they've been playing it on K-notBYU . . . the other one, whatever it's called . . . a ton lately because they just had their pledge drive. (side note: while I generally like the programming on public television, the only time they show stuff I'm truly excited to watch is during the pledge drives. Case in point: they play Anne of Green Gables EVERY time, but that's the only time they show it. Ever!) So I've watched it, like, 4 or 5 times. In the last week.

Let me get something straight right now - I'm not really much of a cryer, generally speaking. Almost never happens. That said, this is music that is just plain moving. I can't imagine anyone listening to it - really listening - and not feeling a little emotional. So it has always (especially after seeing the show) been able to draw out a few tears when I listen to it. I hadn't listened to it in ages, so watching it this week, remembering, brought back all sorts of emotions. All sorts of memories from high school, college, and even Florida. I loved it. I cried all the way through. (And I added the dvd to my amazon wish list.) At the end they brought out the original cast, which was AWESOME and did three encores, and those three songs are currently my three favorites. (I can never pick my favorite anything . . . they all change all the time. Except my favorite color. That's been blue for years. And you were all dying to know.)

Anyway, by the end of the last encore I'm all reduced to this sobbing little puddle who's spent the last four hours (because of the annoying pledge drive interruptions) shuddering with thrills and chills from the beauty of the music and the story. Crying hard enough to give myself a massive headache. So massive, in fact, that even though I went to bed shortly thereafter I could not manage to sleep it off. Which left me having to go to work with a headache, feeling emotional enough that if I didn't know better I'd think I was pregnant, and slightly red eyes . . . in other words, I'm pretty sure I've more or less had a hangover for the last week. Good times.

And for those of you who've seen me and (hopefully) had no idea, all I can say is Disney trains you well in the whole "the show must go on" thing. Seriously, you can be on break and discover that your life has turned into a really bad country song (your dog died, your mom died, your girlfriend left and took the house . . . literally . . . your lunch got stolen, your car got keyed, and to top it all off it's started raining, you work outside, you forgot your rain jacket and your shoes have holes so your feet will be soaked two seconds after you go back out) but you go out and as soon as you're somewhere that people can see you, it's automatic - you slap on a great big smile and act all excited because isn't today just the greatest day EVER?! That kind of mouse-washing sticks with you. But yeah, I've been totally faking it. Migraine city. Although I can't say I'd change anything, if it meant I had to not watch.

I do have one small complaint . . . okay, rant. *ahem*

NICK JONAS?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! NICK FREAKING JONAS AS MARIUS?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! JUST WHO'S TERRIBLE IDEA FOR CRAPPY STUNT CASTING WAS THAT?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! JUST . . . NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, don't get me wrong. The guy can sing. He does not have a terrible voice. But he also does not have a Broadway caliber voice. His boy band days have not been sufficient preparation to fill the shoes of the likes of Michael Ball. Not to mention he sticks out like a sore thumb. With everyone else, even if you know who they are the actor gets lost behind the part they play. It's Jean Valjean, played by Alfie Boe, Fantine, sung by Lea Salonga, for example. But no, this is a freaking JoBro attempting to play the part of Marius. Again - NO!

*sigh* Luke's heard that rant before, and he'll hear it again (especially if he insists on continuing to try to defend said poser JoBro). But I feel a bit better now.

The touring show is coming back to Salt Lake in May - another perfect birthday present. I'm literally aching to go. Dying to go. Brought up the idea repeatedly since discovering it was coming back in September when we went to Lion King. Of course, I'm sure tickets are long gone by now. But it's a little bit heartbreaking to know it's here - and for my birthday too! - and we're not going to able to go. Someday we will attend the theatre more often . . . yearly, maybe even more. But although things are much better than they were for us a couple of years ago, we are not to that point yet. So if get the impression that I'm in mourning during pretty much the entire month of May . . . yeah, I kind of am.

But hopefully I won't also be hungover.

P. ost S. cript
One of the encores from the concert - the original Valjean, the two currently playing him in London and New York, and the one who played him in the concert itself. Talk about chills . . . I don't think I breathed at all the first time I heard this! I won't ask for such an extreme reaction, but the person who is not moved by this song and especially this version - that person has no soul.


  1. Ok, I had never seen Les Mis nor heard/paid attention to the music and didn't get what everyone was so worked up about when it was announced last year that our high school was going to perform it.
    In fact, I worked taking tickets almost every night and didn't ever go in to see it. And listened everyday to everyone rave about the show and how great our cast was and how they rivaled Broadway (said by drama judges, adults that had seen it, never parents), blah, blah, blah.

    Final night I went in about 15-20 minutes after it started because I might as well, you know. The only seat left open was in the empty, no longer used sound booth so I sat through the performance surrounded by people but by myself.

    I never, ever give a standing ovation because I think they are over used, especially at school productions. I was moved to my feet by this story, this performance, this music. And I finally "got it" and was sad that I did not take the opportunity to go in all the other nights.
    (I didn't make the same mistake when we did Phantom earlier this year. I saw it 10 times and again gave a standing ovation)

  2. For some reason this post surprises me...none. The way you feel about Les Mis, I feel about Jekyll and Hyde. Which I know isn't as popular as Les Mis, but love it still the same. But stupid people in in NY cast David Hasselhoff as Jekyll/Hyde and what idiot did that I don't know. Because I wanted to own it so bad and the only edition they had was the Hoffman version, I settled. It was so horrible, I would try to sell it if I thought anyone else is stupid as me.

    I agree that Les Mis is brilliant. I saw it at the Capital Theater a few years ago (I was pregnant with Trevor, so almost 4 years ago). Whether or not that was traveling or not I don't know. But it was amazing. They had a rotating stage that was really cool. But what would I love to see live??? Phantom. Falling goosebumps just thinking of it.

  3. Sarah, too bad you missed it at the high school where I work. We had the actual chandelier from the traveling broadway production. We spent over $25,000 on sets and costumes and we went in with another high school that spent the same amount.

    And our talent? Amazing. no other word for it. I have the Canadian cast recording and it can not hold a candle to our cast. In fact our main cast just got asked to tour as ambassadors of music to China this summer. Too bad there was no way to record them, though. The contract for doing Phantom did not allow it.

  4. Jekyll & Hyde is great too . . . I have that soundtrack too!! I love Phantom . . . I wish I could have come down to see the PG version! And how did I miss that the did Les Mis last year?!? Her I was hoping they'd do it next year and I could find a way to make it down - blargh. Are they going to be able to do the China thing?

  5. Jekyll & Hyde is the best musical on the face of the earth.

    Um...that is all. (I won't tell you how much Les Mis bores me! ;)

  6. Lacey, I was pregnant with Trevor (the oldest) so I saw Les Mis, about 4 years ago, not last year.

    Sandra, I'm sorry I missed that! I would have loved to see it. Being in St. George, I feel like I miss a lot of the good stuff like that.
    A good while ago they did Jekyll and Hyde at the Hale Center Theater in Orem. I already had an obsession so I spent months looking online for any where in Utah it was playing. LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!

  7. Sarah, we shared sets and things with Cedar City high school. Too bad you missed their version of Phantom as well.

    3 of the 4 main cast are able to go to China and are so excited about it.

    Not sure what we are doing next year. Mr. Shelley is thinking he wants to do something low key so he can rest :)

  8. Oh my heavens. Can I just tell you how much I *LOVE* Colm Wilkinson's voice? Oh man. Have considered naming a child after him but Sean wouldn't go for it. Colm? Doesn't exactly roll off the tongue but that voice? to. die. for. I cried when I first saw it on PBS. We had a taped from the TV version from the 10 year anniversary. Then I got to see it in Fresno when I was in high school. Awesome gift. Mostly I just love Jean val Jean's character (and Colm as him) so I don't care too much for the rest of the cast. My high school did it the year after I graduated. I cried when I saw the tape of that too. Ahh the memories.

    And Tawnya: I haven't seen Jekyll and Hyde but need to check it out based on that recommendations. :) To each his own.

  9. Sarah - I was referring to Pleasant Grove putting it on last year . . . upon rereading I realize that was a bit jumbled. My bad.

    Aunt Sandra - If he's looking for suggestions allow me to put forth Into the Woods and Once on This Island. Both amazing shows, but not so much known outside of hardcore nerds like me, so expectations aren't likely to be as high.

    Maggie - If this one's a boy how about Colim? Almost Collin, which is fairly normal, but still almost Colm too.

  10. Lacey, we have done both of those in the last 3-5 years...

  11. Good grief you guys are thorough! Is there anything they haven't done? Hmmmmm . . . Thoroughly Modern Millie? Aida is a bit ambitious . . . Brigadoon? Fiddler? Little Women? Oliver? Scarlet Pimpernel? You're A Good Man Charlie Brown?