This post is very special to me. As many may know, I am a huge musical fan. My journey with them has been incredible. I grew up with happy musicals where I learned about the emotions of excitement, love, joy, and sad. I fully believed that all musicals were going to be comic and happy, but I had no clue that one musical was going to change everything I already knew.
Well, in December of 2012, my parents took me to see the movie of Les Mis. I had no idea how much influence Les Mis would have on my knowledge of musicals. I didn’t know that I was about to fall in love with a tragedy. I went to the movie mainly for “I Dreamed a Dream” because I knew that song. After the first character died, I realized what that title meant and that the show was a tragedy. I was thinking “wait a minute, is this a tragedy”. I did not know how to handle that and due to it, I watched the rest of the movie in such shock. By the end, I only remembered three songs, which were “I Dreamed a Dream”, “Master of the House”, and “Do You Hear the People Sing”. I was thinking “did I just enjoy a tragedy” and I was confused.
After that movie experience, I really went straight out and started researching the musical. I decided to request the songs on Pandora and learn more about the book. I researched Victor Hugo and the time period along with the musical. I decided to watch the movie a second time to give it a second chance and this time, I got more out of it. I finally began to understand the musical and was able to feel the emotions better. I knew I had to eventually see the stage version. I did start to wonder “what makes this tragedy so uplifting”? That made me research the musical even more. I quickly realized that it is a story of sacrifice, humanity, hope, compassion, love, forgiveness, and redemption.
All of this research left me obsessed with the musical. Because I was so passionate about the musical, I read the book starting with the abridged eventually attempting the unabridged. Having the knowledge of the musical helped me understand and grasp the book better. I was able to mark major characters and write in songs. I have seen the stage show four times including once in London. By reading the book, it actually gave wonderful inspiration and strength to the musical.
I don’t know why I am obsessed, but I do know why I love it so much. There is something about the songs and material that grabs you in. Yes, the characters go through terrible things, but they do manage to thrive. The characters range from the compassionate and ex-convict Valjean, the obsessive Javert, the sacrificing and tragic Fantine, the revolutionary and lover Marius, the innocent Cosette, the loving and brave Eponine, the passionate Enjolras, and the funny and abusive Thenardiers’. They have to live through a very difficult time in France. There was a lot of poverty, injustice, suffering, and misery going on. The government was very weak, which led to the June Rebellion of 1832. It is a story of standing up for what you believe in, doing what is right, raising above from your background, and attempting to become a better person. Les Mis is truly one of the most powerful stories. It understands what it means to be human. The storyline line is very multi-layered and the score portrays that. It has multiple storylines. You have the conflict between Valjean and Javert, the love triangle between Cosette, Marius and Eponine, and the uprising led by Enjolras.
The strength of the score is so hard to describe. The score makes you truthfully feel all of the emotions. It gives you the thrill of being emotional and at the same time makes you feel moved and inspired. The songs have the ability to reduce you to tears. The score touches your soul so deeply and always keeps you connected to the characters and plot. I still cannot pick a favorite character or song. But my favorite solo is “On My Own” and my favorite death scene is “A Little Fall of Rain”.
It is still hard to believe that there are tragic musicals in existence. But they fit the world of musicals as Les Mis shows. I worked with it to understand why the musical fits the universe of musicals. By seeing Les Mis through its inspirational nature, I am better able to understand the heartbreaking nature. Through the finale, it says that “even the darkest night will stand and the sun will rise”. Through those lyrics, you can tell that Les Mis has a glimmer of hope in it. The finale also says “to love another person is to see the face of God”. Les Mis explores different kinds of love such as love for a country, love for a child, love for a parent, and romantic love: both requited and unrequited.
As many can tell, I am so passionate about the musical and musicals in general. Being passionate about Les Mis is an advantage because the musical is such a passionate piece. If I wasn’t obsessed with Les Mis, I wouldn’t be as musical crazy as I am now. Les Mis is one of my #1 favorite musicals. So overall, I love it because it is one of the most powerful stories set to some of the most brilliant and empathetic music. It has fascinating characters and there is always something to relate and connect to. I don’t relate to any of the characters exactly, but I relate to the spirituality of the musical. I really thought I would hate a tragedy and felt like that genre did not belong in theatre especially in musicals. I am glad I learned the value of Les Mis and why it touches audiences the way it does.
Below are three blog posts about Les Mis. There are spoilers in them.