This summer was a year like no other. I got the opportunity to see Les Mis in the West End. I had a dream of seeing it in London ever since I became obsessed with the musical. It changed my perspective on musical theatre. It changed how I viewed the different emotions because I felt emotions that I had never felt before and it also strengthened previous emotions. Before Les Mis, I believed I would hate tragedies and that was a big mistake. Because Les Mis is a tragedy, I learned from the past.
Even though Les Mis is a tragedy, it is so much more than that. Some people do not seem to understand why I love it because the title means “the miserable”. The show has an experience that is very different from other musicals because the musical is an extremely powerful emotionally moving musical.
When I saw the show in the West End, it was the best experience I ever had with the musical. The moment the lights went out and the music began, I knew it was more than I originally excepted. The first couple of notes were just so powerful. Because the show is sung-through, the orchestra has to be incredible. The current Les Mis cast is absolutely brilliant and when I saw it, I had an understudy for Valjean. His name was Adam Bayjou.
Adam played a wonderful Valjean. During the prologue, I could hear the anger of Valjean and I could see his transformation through the kindness of the bishop. After Valjean was released, my tears started and I excepted them to start later, but glad they started when they did. I could see Valjean’s compassion toward the poor especially towards Fantine and his adopted daughter.
Jeremy Secomb played Javert, the antagonist of the storyline. For the longest time, I did not feel for this character at all. I did not even care that he died. But I finally saw Javert when Jeremy played him. He was the most effective during the suicide scene. Before he started singing, I could already sense the suffering of Javert. Even though I do not like Javert, I am glad that I finally cared.
Rachelle Ann Go played the tragic heroine, Fantine. I truly saw Fantine from beginning to end. My heart was breaking for this character. From the moment the character sang, I was truly feeling the desperation of the character. “I Dreamed a Dream” was heart-renching and so was her death. She had just gotten the part only a month before I saw the show in London. Out of all of the characters, I feel the worst for Fantine.”I Dreamed a Dream” had a little bit of hope in it. Once it got to “Lovely Ladies”, Fantine sounded much more desperate and that is the hardest scene to watch. I am not a big fan of the scene because it makes me feel uncomfortable, but I tolerate it because I understand why it is there. My heart continued to break during Fantine’s death scene. I could feel how broken Fantine was and I could feel Valjean’s compassion by saying he will care for her daughter.
The two actors who played the Thenardiers’ were hilarious. I laughed during “Master of the House” and by this point, the audience deserves a good laugh. Besides being funny, I could also sense their greedy, abusive, cruel side. I first saw their evil nature in how they treated Cosette. But after Cosette was rescued by Valjean, they started being abusive towards their own daughter.
Carrie Hope Fletcher played the heartbroken Eponine. Eponine is the daughter of the Thenardier’. After Cosette was rescued by Valjean, her family fell into extreme poverty and they started to use their abuse on Eponine. I could feel Eponine’s unrequited love towards Marius. Every time I heard her sing, the words were very heartbreaking to me. During “On my Own”, I felt a new emotion in Eponine, which was anger. It is fun discovering new emotions of characters you already have gotten to know. I find it sad that Eponine did not get happiness until “A Little Fall of Rain”, which is her death scene. At the beginning of that song, I believed that Eponine was dying from being shot and I knew something was wrong after I heard the gunshot because I looked up and the nonverbal I saw made me know something was wrong. The thing I love the most about this scene is that Marius stayed with her and that she got to die in the arms of the man she loves. Rob Houchen played Marius and in this scene, he truly was compassionate towards her and offered her comfort. I truly saw how devastated he was after she died and how much Eponine meant to him.
Enjorlas and the students truly were brilliant. Each time they sang, I felt their passion towards the uprising. Every song that they sang had an epic and uplifting quality. But I felt hopeless during “Drink With Me”. They knew the uprising will fail after Eponine died. They realized they were outnumbered. Even though they felt hopeless, they still stayed passionate even in the final battle.
The set truly made the show come to life. It was very 3d, which made it feel like you are part of the action. The set was very gray and bleak, which represented the time period. The revolving stage helped with time change. You would be watching one scene and all of a sudden the stage turned and another scene was going on. I loved this technique during the uprising. When Gavroche climbed over the barricades, they turned the stage and seeing Gavroche getting shot saddened me. There is something special about live theatre that makes emotions more real. After the uprising ended, they turned the stage and shown a light on Enjorlas, which saddened me as well. The fog helped scenes come to life as well. This production had a lot of fog starting with the opening scene.
When the show ended, I was completely speechless. Usually when I see a show, I do not stand up right away, but for this I did. It was more than I thought. Some emotions I always knew were in the show were stronger. Those emotions that became stronger were compassion, hope, and forgiveness. Sadness was also stronger because I felt it more than I used to. I felt the emotions of uplifting, exciting, joy, love, funny, compassion, passion, hope, anger, guilt, hopeless, sad, desperation, devastation, depressing, heartbreak, loneliness, uncomfortable and I know I felt more than that.
After the show ended, I went to the stage door and met the actor who played Valjean. He signed my playbill and I had my picture taken with him. I truly “dreamed a dream” that night. I was lucky that I was only nine rows back from the stage. It added to the experience and it made me feel closer to the action. I have no words to describe how much Les Mis means to me. Once again it may be depressing, but is also uplifting. Because “Do You Hear the People Sing” is the anthem of the show, it shows that Les Mis is uplifting.
“To Love Another Person is To See the Face of God”