Journey with Les Mis- the Best Way

Well, so many people on this blog know I am obsessed with Les Mis. I actually know an incredible way to show that journey. I actually experienced the musical twice in cinemas- film and 2019 London staged concert. Well, the difference has nothing to do with cast. It has more to do with what I thought about the musical. That probably makes more sense once I explain.

The Film- First Experience

It was December 2012. I actually came into Les Mis unsure what to think of it. I only know one song (“I Dreamed a Dream”, and was aware of two actresses- Amanda Seyfried and Anne Hathaway (here’s what I didn’t know- I actually knew about a third- I was raised on Harry Potter films, so Helena Bonham Carter was the third, but didn’t know it).

There were certain things I was blind to. This first experience was the most negative experience I ever had with the musical. My parents initially kept me blind that Les Mis was a tragedy. If I had known, I probably wouldn’t have gone. But once I figured that out, I did not know to react, feel or even respond. I wasn’t even close to being an emotional wreck. Due to that, I did completely forget about what I what I thought of the actors, actresses, and characters.

I came away from the film saying TOO DEPRESSING, but still had “Do You the People Sing” stuck in my head. So I couldn’t figure out if I loved Les Mis or not. What was weird was that soon after, I started researching the musical.

2019 London Stage Concert- In Cinemas

By this point, already saw the film so many times I had to buy a 2nd copy, seen the 25th concert maybe more than twenty times, and saw the stage show six times. I think that does say something about my love for that musical. Les Mis is why I am passionate about musicals. It actually was after the 2013 Central Piedmont Community College where I formed a dream for seeing it in the West End. That came true July 30th, 2015 with understudy (Adam Bayjou) as Valjean. Went to stage door and met the actor who played Valjean.

Let me actually compare and contrast the two experiences with the film and this particular concert. The first time, negative experience, not emotional wreck, and did not quite interpret Les Mis the right way. Something tells me I must have been connected somehow to at least one character- now that I think of it, most likely it was Fantine and the students. I say that because I knew about “I Dreamed a Dream” and was stuck with “Do You the People Sing” in my head. I subconsciously was most likely attached to even more. Giving the film a 2nd chance was key—I do know that was when I formed an emotional connection to Eponine.

As for the 2019 concert, I had no choice but to see it in Cinemas due to living in the US. This time was not a negative experience, but positive. I already became a massive fan of the musical and massive fan of musicals. There are a lot of memories in between- the times seeing the stage show. This concert was my first experience of seeing a concert of Les Mis in cinemas. What was interesting is that the concert had actors/actresses I had seen once before-part were my West End cast, and the other repeats the 25th concert.

Just like expected- the staged concert made me an emotional wreck, and just like usual “I Dreamed a Dream” was the first moment where I literally was in tears- no actress had failed at that. After, still continued to feel that that way. Here is what is incredible- my mom and I had three Les Mis dates: West End, US Tour 2019, and Staged Concert. So how did I go from this not liking Les Mis to developing a strong and massive love for Les Mis? My emotional response was built up over time- eventually becoming an emotional wreck.

Simply put, I had a lot of repeats in 2019: it was not just the staged concert where that happened, but the US Tour as well.

So…..

Look at my 1st experience with the film- negative and not really becoming a fan of Les Mis. By being confused and not knowing how to feel or react. I did not even know from that I would eventually see it again. That very first time-no where close to being an emotional wreck. It was a 2nd chance- if that didn’t happen Les Mis wouldn’t be a part of my life and would have no idea The West End existed.

Then, by the time the 2019 Concert in cinemas happened, I already had a lot of experiences with Les Mis. At Central Piedmont Community College, West End, and the US Tour. Had seen the film so many times that I had to buy a 2nd copy and seen the 25th more than 20 (I think). So, from not really a fan to being obsessed with it was something I NEVER expected. I really believed I would not be a fan of tragedies, but Les Mis decided to prove me wrong. There are times when I feel like Les Mis was supposed to enter my life- even the timing worked.

Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker Review

Yesterday, I FINALLY saw Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker. I have wanted to see the latest movie in the latest trilogy since Force Awakens came out. I actually became a fan of Star Wars in 2015. I love Star Wars due to the planets, the droids, the creatures, the Jedi, etc….. I even think Star Wars is better than Marvel- I am not joking here.

About the latest trilogy- I fell in love with Rey, the moment I saw her. I did love the fact that they added a female Jedi to the fix, and I think that is part of why I love her. She is the protagonist of this particular trilogy. She actually is my favorite character of Force Awakens, Last Jedi, and Rise of Skywalker. I loved seeing her development.

Now on to the movie: There might be SPOILERS:

The surviving members of the resistance face the First Order once again, and the legendary conflict between the Jedi and the Sith reaches its peak bringing the Skywalker saga to its end

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We are back to Poe, BB8, Finn, CC-30 (I always forget the time), Chewy and Rey. They are on this quest on to find this Wayfinder in order to find this hidden talent in order to defeat Palpatine once and for all. It actually was quite intense- filled with plot twist- as in “you can’t do that”- some of the characters you thought were DEAD, but in reality NOT (among other plot twists).

I knew there was going to be a battle between the Residence and the Sith- like usually happens. I literally thought it was going to be a LOST cause on point, but in no way that was going to happen. The Sith were way outnumbered and Rey used a lot of her powers on Palaptine and so did Kylo Ren (who by that point, redeemed himself and changed his name to Ben Solo).

This movie was actually an incredible end to the trilogy. Had no idea how they were going to include Leia in this movie- but the way they worked it out was impressive. What is interesting about the Star Wars movies is that you always seem to be introduced to brand new planets and creatures each time.

The trilogy was actually my first time seeing Star Wars in a movie theater so I loved being able to see the special effects and everything on the BIG SCREEN- not on the small screen like the others.

July 2019 in Review

Lake Tahoe was one of the biggest highlights of July. I did not spend time with just my family. It was a trip with cousins as well. Lake Tahoe is on both Nevada and California, two states I never visited. The lake is a beautiful, clear, and multicolored. Most of my time was spent in California. I still got to spend time in Nevada- the main hike was spent in that state, and that was where the M.S. Dixie Cruise began. On the top of Gondola, you quickly can go back and forth between both states. It was a fun vacation.

At the very end of July, I finally saw the “live action” movie of Lion King. I wanted to watch it since I found out about the film. I do love the musical, and that was why I wanted to watch it. I wouldn’t call the film okay- I would call it good. It had a few disappointments- but the rest was well-done.

I wonder what August will bring.

A Whole New World- Review

One of the 2019 movies I wanted to see the most was the live action movie of Aladdin. I didn’t want a carbon copy of the cartoon- I wanted to be original. Like Beauty and the Beast, I had to relearn Aladdin in so many ways, but in so many ways I still knew Aladdin. The “Whole New World” is the song that I looked forward to the most.

Aladdin was worth it, and grabbed in you quickly. If a movie grabs you in fast, that does say something.

Songs:

Still has all the songs I know- One Jump Ahead, Friend Like Me, A Whole New World (favorite Aladdin song), Arabian Nights, Prince Ali.

The new song, Speechless, made me love Jasmine more. It was a lovely addition to her character. It made her stronger. I loved that this song was included.

Plot- Spoilers (little or possible spoilers):

This story is basically a story being told- on a ship. There is a slight difference about when Aladdin and Jasmine meet. “One Jump Ahead” usually happens before those characters meet. At the beginning of the story, after “Arabian Nights”- Aladdin and Jasmine meet. So “One Jump Ahead” occurs right after the two of them met. As expected-Aladdin and Jasmine get together.

I don’t remember this at all- but something happened in Aladdin. The Genie and Dalia do fall in love. I saw it happen. I only think of Aladdin and Jasmine- its all because of “A Whole New World”.

I am not going to say the entire plot- still basically the same plot, but a few changes.

Characters:

Aladdin: Mena Massoud

  • How can you not love Aladdin? Yes, street thief, but does he do it for selfish or selfless reasons? He has to survive somehow. There is more to him than being the street rat everyones him to be. It is just him and Abu, his funny and curious monkey. He is clever and does have his flaws. He is loyal when it comes to Abu. You can see that all in Mena’s Aladdin, and he does have an incredible voice as well.

Abu:

  • You can easily fall in love with Abu. It is Aladdin’s monkey pet. Abu is funny and curious, which can get Aladdin in trouble at times. There is no way to dislike him- it is impossible.

Genie: Will Smith

  • Will Smith is defiantly not a terrible Genie. He is an incredible Genie. The Genie is one of the characters I love in Aladdin. I love the magic and charm of the Genie and Will showed that. He was an incredible singer, which I first noticed during “Friend Like Me”.

Jasmine: Naomi Scott

  • Aladdin and Jasmine are one of my favorite Disney couples. Now, I love the two of them even more. I don’t know what it was- did it have something to do with Naomi and Mena or was it because it was live action?”. I don’t know know why. Part of why I loved Naomi as Jasmine had to do with “Speechless”. That song added a strength and complexity to Jasmine I never knew was in her- making her a better princess. In addition, she was able to stand up to Jafar- showing that strength and complexity even further.

Jafar: Marwan Kenzari

  • As expected, don’t like Jafar. Don’t like Iago either- they are connected after all. I don’t know if Marwan seemed like a villain or not- even though he was supposed to- but in some ways it worked. That means, Marwan was hiding the truth to others.

Magic Carpet:

  • Why did I even put Magic Carpet here? Yes, both the cartoon and the live action have the Magic Carpet. In this version, the Magic Carpet actually acted as a character in this version. I loved that was more of a character- I love the use of it. I love it the most during “A Whole New World”, the love song. Still, seeing it play off as character made it have more personality.

Costumes/Set:

Set

  • Together, I loved seeing it. They perfectly created Agrabah in my opinion- from the palace to where Aladdin lived to the market. Even where Jafar banished Aladdin to. The Cave of Wonders- what when you walk in, there is no treasure- so you are wondering what is so “wonder” about that cave? You walk further down, and then you see only see one thing- just one. At the very end- that is where the most treasure is- combo of the gray you just saw and all the treasure- I was expected a lot of golden- and none of the gray I just saw. Does make those though- it is a cave after all, but at the same time full of wonder.

Costumes

  • Beautiful especially Princess Jasmine’s
  • Love Aladdin’s- both of them, but love the Aladdin look the best
  • Beautiful for Genie
  • All of Agrabah
  • It is hard to dislike costumes in their home

After watching this movie, I want to see the stage show more than ever. I still don’t know if I am seeing Aladdin at Belk Theatre in September, but want to. Aladdin is one of my favorite musicals.

Some of my favorite Literary friendships

I did talk about about my favorite musical theatre friendships before, but I think it is time to talk about some of my favorite literary friendships.

Friends of the ABC:

  • This is an overlap between literary and musical theatre friendship. This friendship is in both. This friendship is found in Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. Enjolras is the leader of this group. They not only are friends, but they are like brothers. They are passionate about the cause that they fight to the end. What I love about the book is that you get to know them individually unlike the musical where you get to know them together as a group. It is their passion and their friendship that I love about them.

Nicholas and Smike

  • These two characters are my favorite characters in Nicholas Nickleby. I love the compassion Nicholas shows to Smike. When Nicholas leaves that school, Smike follows and Nicholas allows Smike to stay with him throughout the rest of the book.

Frodo and Sam

  • Would Frodo have made it without Sam? It is Sam’s loyalty to Frodo that makes me love the two of them. At end of Fellowship, Frodo was going to do the rest of the quest alone, but Sam would not allow it. Sam was going to staying with Frodo. That first question is the biggest reason why I love the two of them as friends- Frodo never would made it without Sam.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione

  • This trio is one of my favorite things about the Harry Potter series. It is one of the biggest reasons why I love the series. Just like with Sam, would Harry have defeated Voldemort without his two best friends? He relied on the two of them as the books went by. All three of them went through some trials and tribulations as the books went by. Harry wanted to do some of these things alone like Frodo, but his two best friends would not allow it either. Harry and Ron quickly became friends, but it took a while until they befriended Hermione- they finally became friends with her at the troll incident- that trial was going through the trap door. Each book- they had to go through some trial- it seems- which used some rule-breaking.

What are some your favorite literary friendships?