Sunday evening the hubs and I went and saw the 25th Anniversary production of “Les Miserables” at the Capitol Theater in Salt Lake City. It was the fourth time I have seen Les Mis performed live by a professional company, and about the hundred thousandth time I’ve heard it performed.
I got really excited about this performance when I saw the 25th Anniversary London cast perform the Les Mis concert on PBS. I recorded it and watched it several times. Even my children love the music. I think it’s some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard and that has ever been composed.
I first became acquainted and fell in love with Les Mis some time in Junior high. I was in choir all three years of junior high and I must have been in 8th grade where our choir teacher, Miss Reeves, has us listen to Les Mis after our concerts were over for the year and we had no more music to learn. She explained the story to us and then we listened to the complete symphonic version. I immediately fell in love with the music and the beautiful words. I remember Les Mis came to Salt Lake City that Spring and my parents got tickets and went. I was so annoyed because I wanted to go and I didn’t think my Dad would appreciate it. They got me a Les Mis t-shirt as a consolation.
The next year after that Les Mis came again. My friend’s family all got together and bought tickets and they called me that Saturday morning asking if I wanted one too. Heck yes! Finally, I got to go to Les Mis in 1992. It was the best thing I have ever seen on stage at that time. I was blown away. I had two bootleg copies of the complete symphonic version and listened to those until they wore apart.
A decade later my in-laws bought Les Mis tickets for everyone in the family in the Spring of 2002. The hubs had never heard the music before and he went out and bought the complete symphonic version on CD. I explained to him the story and he listened to the CDs a lot before went and saw it. As luck would have it, I sprained my ankle the week before we went and we were sitting in the balcony, and there is not an elevator up to the balcony in the Capitol theater. The hubs was as blown away the first time he saw Les Mis as I was.
So blown away, that the next year he got us tickets to Les Mis again as a mother’s day/father’s day present. I was very newly pregnant with our second child and was extremely uncomfortable during the entire performance. However, it was a fantastic performance that made up for my extreme nausea.
Les Mis is a story that means so much to me, and I can’t really put into words why. I read the book by Victor Hugo my senior year in AP English and it was so beautifully written. I got a slightly abridged version, but was way behind my class who were all reading the heavily abridged version. The heavily abridged gets rid of all of Hugo’s beautiful language and strips it down to just the story. I did not like it. I went back to reading the book I already had. I figured I knew the story well enough to pass the essay tests we were given after reading any books.
I think one of the reasons I love the story is because at it’s very heart it is about redemption. Jean Val Jean was a convict and he changed his life to be a respected mayor and then a dedicated adoptive father. He’s constantly putting his life on the line for others…whether it is confessing to Javert that he is Val Jean when he could have let the look-a-like go to prison in his place, or rescuing Cosette from her life of servitude, or saving Marius from the Barricades. I also love the political aspect of the story, with the students rising up against the French monarchy to establish a Democracy. And for whatever reason, Fantine, has always been my favorite character. Her part is small but her role is pivotal. I even sang, “I Dreamed a Dream” at a solo and ensemble competition in Junior High.
Les Mis was very critical for me during the worst time in my life. When my mother was dying of cancer, I would constantly listen to Les Mis. For some reason it was the only music I could stand. The day she died I laid in bed with her, held her hand, and sang Val Jean’s reprise of “Bring him Home” when he is dying in the play. In the reprise he is praying to God to bring him home to heaven and to bid him rest. That moment with my mother will always be sacred to me.
I just had to share my favorite moment of the Les Miserables 25th Anniversary. It is when the original London cast and current London cast get together and sing “One Day More.” Every time…every single time I watch this I get goosebumps on my arms and chills up my spine.
This is one of the many reasons why Les Mis is my favorite, hands down and absolute, Broadway musical of all time.