Do You Hear the People Sing

We are headed back to France with this musical-more specifically early 19th century. This was an extremely expected musical I was going to included. As many know, I have a massive love for Les Mis. It did challenge and disprove several many things about the world of musicals. The musical was based off of a masterpiece book- Victor Hugo’s Les Misèrables. I think that explains part of why it is such an extradionary musical. It is very difficult to have amazing songs if the plot is terrible, but in Les Mis’ case- the plot is incredible in so many ways.

I need to go back to the beginning explaining my love. In high school, I had told myself, I will NEVER a tragedy, and that was because I thought the genre was pure sad- Les Mis decided to prove me wrong. Actually, I had to watch the film twice before falling in love with Les Mis. After that second watch, the rest is history. I thought tragic musicals did not exist in musicals, I thought I knew the full extent of emotions, and I thought death scenes were unmemorable: boy, would Les Mis challenge a lot of things. Now let, me explain my love for Les Mis.

Songs: Major Spoilers

Usually in a musical, I can easily choose my favorite song. However in Les Mis’ case, I struggle with that. The songs are epic, passionate, powerful, and highly emotional. Those songs can literally hit you like a pile of bricks-I am still an emotional wreck and love that it does that. Before Les Mis, sad was one of the core emotions, but HEARTBREAK was not. I was blind to heartbreak, but so glad I discovered that new emotion- it opened a brand new window: Les Mis is filled with beautiful and powerful heartbreaking songs: some of them are bittersweet. The songs hit you in a way that words alone can’t describe. If I am to describe the songs fully, I don’t think I even could. From the goosebumps to the tears- I have only loved it since 2013. These songs perfectly complement the characters and plot; it works that it is sung-through due to the story and characters.

From the heartbreaking “I Dreamed a Dream” to the hilarious “Master of the House” to the hopeful “Do You Hear the People Sing” to the love song, “A Heart Full of Love” to the empowering and epic “One Day More” to the beautiful and heartbreaking “On my Own” to the bittersweet and touching “A Little Fall of Rain” to the devastating “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”- it has one of the most powerful and memorable soundtracks. Another thing the songs taught me is that a song can happen during a death scene, and that even death can be memorable.

“Come to Me” is Fantine’s death. She is dying of illness, but not alone. She has Valjean by her side promising to take of her daughter, Cosette. During “A Little Fall of Rain”, Eponine is dying in the arms of the man she loves. Finally at the “Epilogue”, Valjean gets to die with Cosette, his adopted daughter and Marius, his now son-in-law by his side.I NEVER realized that death scenes could happen during song-it wasn’t until Les Mis became a part of my life. The “Epilogue” makes you feel both heartbroken and hope- Les Mis is both heartbreaking and inspiring.

Characters-Major Spoilers:

Les Mis has one of the best collection of characters. There is a character that everyone is going to love. I can’t even choose my favorite character.

Jean Valjean (Main Character)- He starts off the show as a harsh, hateful, and angry man. It is amazing to see him change into the compassionate and caring man he becomes. It was through an act of mercy by the bishop that made him start to became a better person. Even Cosette played a part in it. Everything he did made his spiritual journey stronger and made him a better person. It was during “Bring Him Home” when you strongly can see his love for God. He is one of the best protagonists of musical theatre.

Javert (Antagonist)- His main goal in Les Mis is to recapture Valjean. He believes “once a criminal always a criminal”. He sees the world in black and right and wants to do the right thing. He is a policeman and does not show mercy or forgiveness or love. He can’t even accept it when it shown on him. He is one of our most complex antagonists I have seen.

Fantine- She is one of our most tragic characters, and her demise isn’t even her fault. She has a strong unconditional love towards her daughter, Cosette. When Cosette was born, Cosette’s biological father abandoned both of them. Fantine’s dreams are now shattered. She now is a single father left to care for daughter—she ended up leaving her daughter in the hands of The Thenardiers (not knowing how poorly they will treat Cosette). Soon, she finds work in Valjean’s factory, but after hearing about Cosette, she was factory. She was devastated, but had to take desperate measures by selling her locket, hair, and soon herself (as in becoming a prostitute). Eventually she became seriously ill and was rescued by Valjean even though he couldn’t save her life. Valjean promised to raise Cosette. Fantine was a strong character- it usually is at “I Dreamed a Dream” when I start becoming an emotional wreck.

Young Cosette-Yes, we first hear of Cosette through Fantine, but we don’t meet her until after Fantine dies. Well, it turns out Cosette was being abused and treated as a servant. Cosette always has high hopes she will be rescued. She strongly does not like it when she has to water from the woods. Luckily in the woods Valjean finds Cosette and realizes this is the girl he has been looking for. So now, Cosette becomes Valjean’s adopted daughter.

Cosette-Now, we have a teenage Cosette. Her life has improved now that she has a better father. Valjean loves Cosette. They live a very sheltered and protective life- part of it is due to Valjean being a ex-convict. One day in the streets, Cosette sees Marius and they fall in love. Cosette does want to know more about her past and wants to actually meet Marius in person.

Marius- He is one of the student revolutionaries and is close friends to Enjolras. He is kind, sweet, compassionate, brave, and awkward. He is not just close friends to Enjolras, but to Eponine as well. He struggles between his passion for the uprising and his love for Cosette. He actually is more complex than he seems.

Eponine- While we first meet her as a child, we truly meet her as a teenager. She was raised around criminals her entire life. She became the neglected, abused, and unloved teenager. No one showed her kindness- until she met someone who did. She met Marius that day- Marius ended up becoming the light in her life and he was the only good thing in her life. The kindness he showed her led her to fall in love with him. She was streetwise, strong, brave, and loyal. Her love for Marius is so deep and strong that she would risk everything for Marius no matter the cost.

Enjolras and the Friends of the ABC-What I love the most about them is their passion for the uprising and the bond they share. With Enjolras, he is such a confident and passionate leader; after all, he is the most passionate of the group.

The Thenardiers- Despite being abusive, unloving, despicable, and cruel, I love the laughter they bring

Plot:

Les Mis’ story is so carefully planned out that if you get rid of one tiny detail, the entire story falls flat. It is amazing how a plot can be like that. I can’t even choose my favorite character.

The main storyline is about Valjean’s journey of becoming a better person. He had been in prison 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread: 5 for stealing and 14 for trying to escape. When his time came to leave, he was put on parole forever. He had left as an angry, harsh, and hateful man. However, when an act of mercy was shown by the bishop, he decided he needed to change, but that meant breaking parole. So while Valjean was going on a spiritual journey, Javert was trying to recapture Valjean. There were major dilemmas Valjean had to face: turn himself in when an innocent man was accused of being him, etc…….He helped save lives (Fantine (even though he couldn’t save her life), Cosette, and Marius). By the end, he has truly been redeemed and got to die with Cosette, his adopted daughter, and Marius, his now son-in-law by his side.

Another storyline is the love triangle between Cosette x Marius x Eponine. Cosette and Marius’ relationship helps bring hope to the tragedy. It gives a reason for Valjean to rescue Marius from the barricade. Cosette and Marius are an incredible couple and amazing characters. Cosette represents hope in Les Mis so she needed to fall in love with Marius.

On to Eponine. If Eponine did not have the unrequited love, I don’t think I would have fallen in love with the character. If you think about it, Eponine needed Marius in her life. Her fate made perfect sense. She was able to die in the arms of Marius. It originally was Eponine that sacrificed her life for Marius. If you look at “A Little Fall of Rain”- you can see Marius’ compassion and based on how devastated he is shows Eponine mattered to him: so I love Marius. Also, look at the beginning of act II, he sent Eponine away with that letter- I think he only was trying to protect Eponine. He did not want her to get hurt or killed during the uprising. So, I love Eponine with the unrequited love

The third final main storyline was the uprising. It was based on the actual June Rebellion of 1832. I love those characters- their bond, their passion, and their hope is inspiring despite knowing their fates each time I see Les Mis. Marius is the only student who makes it out alive- first Eponine sacrificed her life for him and ultimately Valjean carried him to safety after he became seriously injured.

At the end, there are only four survivors: The Thenardiers, Marius, and Cosette. I do know who my favorite survivor is, and that is Marius.

So, while Marius and Cosette survive the entire musical, they still have their tragedies. Cosette had a tragic childhood and eventually lost her adopted father. Marius lost all of his friends at the barricades. All they have left at the end is each other. See why the plot is hard to explain: you still can’t get rid of one tiny detail or else the story falls in shambles.

About the plot, I love some the themes of compassion, love, hope, forgiveness, sacrifice, humanity, and redemption. I love the beautiful spirituality found in the plot. Les Mis is truly a very “human” story, and I love that about it. Still, I can’t explain why I love the plot as much as I do. The plot is so amazing that I wouldn’t get rid of a single thing- you need everything in it for the storyline to the story we know: it really is that carefully planned out.

Conclusion:

Even this does not fully explain why I love Les Mis, it does say a lot. Les Mis is where my passion for musicals comes from. I was challenged a lot because the musical entered, and I am so glad it did. I thought I knew the full extent of emotions, but Les Mis showed me a stronger and deeper side to the emotions. Les Mis is why I now want to see two-three musicals a year, and why I am more open to them. Wicked might have sparked my love for musicals, but Les Mis turned that love into a passion. Les Mis did lead four core emotions into five: excitement, love, joy, sad, and “heartbreak”. I am still an emotional wreck watching Les Mis, and I don’t think I will ever be immune to it. I love getting all of the tears watching Les Mis- I don’t want that reaction to stop- that reaction does not happen often, but it defiantly is the trophy of tear-reducing songs.

Prepare Ye……

Just a couple days ago, I came up with a new blog series idea. I decided to make mention of musicals I love and the reasons. Considering that Lent started on Wednesday, I decided to begin with one of the biblical musicals I love, which is the only biblical musical I love: GODSPELL.

My love for it started in 2012 a couple of months after graduating from Fletcher. I attended Fletcher for middle and high school. After Fletcher, for two years, I attended Central Piedmont Community College. The very first musical my community college was doing when I was a student was Godspell. That was September 2012. I do not know if it was mom or dad, but they knew I would love Godspell. What do I love about it?

Well, there are the fun costumes. There are incredible and upbeat songs. It is a Stephen Schwartz musical- I think that was why Godspell was recommended- Wicked’s music was written by the same person.

Godspell is about Jesus’ last couple of days before his death. It literally felt like fiction and modernized in some way- due to the fun costumes (I saw a hippie, pink dress with the white star, etc). Little did I know, I would see some of the same actors again in future productions. Even those who are not Christian can love the show- any Stephen Schwartz fan should check it out. Godspell was one of those musicals you probably were not expecting.

Favorite Song: We Beseech Thee

2019 in Review

Another year has passed. It is now officially 2020. You know what that means- it means time for another year in review.

January:

All Januaries share one thing in common: my birthday. Actually, one of my presents was unique, which was late. It was this purse, which would become my theatre purse. It literally is made out of fabrics and other things made from leftover scarps from costumes, etc…..- this one says “For Good” on it and has the broom and wand on it- a lot of people know the impact of Wicked on my life. I now take that bag to every show I go to.

My first Club Blume event happened in January: The Miss Saigon Informance. While I would be seeing that musical with my mom and dad, I still went to the informance. This time, at Belk Theater, we actually learned some history about the theater and got a backstage tour: this happened a month before Miss Saigon would tour there. So actually seeing backstage made me get a different kind of appreciation for the cast and crew: at Belk, the ensemble dressing rooms are below the stage; so they literally are running up and down steps all night long while the leads are not: crazy. Belk is shaped like a horseshoe, and we learned where the best seats tend to start. There is a reason why Belk has the box seats and why it looks the way it does- Belk is designed for Broadway Tours, Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Charlotte Ballet, and the Charlotte Opera.

February

I was not expecting to travel to St. Louis at the beginning of this month. I would be going alone with mom to visit my grandma. During the trip, we would be seeing Fiddler on the Roof (I originally thought Miss Saigon would be the first musical).

https://megsdailymusings.wordpress.com/2019/02/04/tradition-fiddler-on-the-roof-review/

It actually was this month when I fell in love with the Lord of the Rings trilogy movies. The characters I emotionally connected to the most were the four main Hobbits: Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin.

https://megsdailymusings.wordpress.com/2019/02/22/hobbits-of-lord-of-the-rings/

Well, Miss Saigon happened the same week I saw the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I was expecting to be crying due to KNOWING how Les Mis affected me. That was because they both were written by the same team. Yes, I was right: I was in tears. Miss Saigon would be my first of the tragic musicals of this year: I would be seeing a 2nd later in the year.

https://megsdailymusings.wordpress.com/2019/02/23/miss-saigon-review/

May

Charlotte Shout was one of Blumenthal’s events this year. It was a way to celebrate Charlotte’s 250th birthday. This kind of event is something to experience at night due to the illuminated bunnies, wheat field, prisms, and bunnies- they don’t exactly light up if you are there during the day.

https://megsdailymusings.wordpress.com/2019/05/12/charlotte-shout/

June:

June obviously was the month of the Tonys. However, this year the Tonys was different. I actually got fascinated by a new musical, Hadestown, a tragic love story myth, which is between Eurydice and Orpheus. Ever since, I have been dying to see Hadestown.

June is the month of the POPS symphonies- this year, went to a Star Wars and Broadway themed one. It is always something to look forward to every year.

July:

Lake Tahoe was vacation with my extended family. Now, what state were we in exactly? California or Nevada- well, Lake Tahoe is in both states.

August

I ended up going to the Aladdin Informance this year. This time around, we were trying Middle Eastern food. During the talk, our speaker spoke about the history of Disney movies. Well, whenever it came to talking about the songs, a lot of Club Blume ended up singing along including myself. I would get tickets to Aladdin through Club Blume.

https://megsdailymusings.wordpress.com/2019/08/22/aladdin-informance/

August/September

I did not know where to place Kanuga. Either it would be in August or in September. The Parish Weekend was over Labor Day Weekend. Kanuga is ALWAYS a weekend of fellowship and community. There was some art done, singing, hiking (which I was one of the leaders of), and the Lakeside Chapel Service, etc…..

https://megsdailymusings.wordpress.com/2018/09/04/my-labor-day-weekend-at-kanuga/

September

Aladdin was seen on September 11th. Even though that date was the same day tragedy struck our country in 2001, seeing Aladdin that day this year was worth it. This come as a surprise: I did get a little emotional during “Proud of Your Boy”- that would be the 2nd time this year I would be affected in that way this year. After all, Miss Saigon drove me to tears, but “Proud of Your Boy” made me a little emotional. I saw this as a date with my mom. After this, I knew that I eventually wanted to own the Original Broadway Soundtrack.

https://megsdailymusings.wordpress.com/2019/09/12/a-magic-carpet-ride/

October:

October did not have huge highlights, but had things I enjoyed. I did enjoy a day trip at Blowing Rock: part did include actually seeing the actual Blowing Rock. One particular highlight of October was finding out if I would be seeing Les Mis or not: that had been something I wanted to know from October 2018 to when I found out. You know what- my mom somehow managed to keep secret from me that she had bought tickets in January 2019 all the way to the day she told me.

November:

Les Mis would be my 4th musical this year. Well, before Les Mis, I had already seen one tragedy in 2019 (Miss Saigon), but now I would be seeing my 2nd. It was a date with my mom. What was interesting about Les Mis this time around was that I got five repeat actors/actresses in the same role: Josh Davis (Javert), Jillian Butler (Cosette), Joshua Grosso (Marius), Matt Shingledecker (Enjolras), and Allison Guinn (Madame Thenardier) were part of the US Tour of 2017. I did end up with an understudy as Valjean (Andrew Maughan)- I was hoping for Nick Cartell, but got an understudy instead. Here is what I can say- Joshua and Matt were standouts from 2017 so at least I got them.

Well, I am still not immune to Les Mis. I actually started having some tears before expected. Usually, it is “I Dreamed a Dream” where I start crying during, but this time, the reaction started before Fantine’s story began. Actually seeing those five actors again and getting four new actors was quite interesting.

Ovens Auditorium

https://megsdailymusings.wordpress.com/2019/11/04/a-new-revolution-6th/

December

Club Blume Come From Away Informance happened this month. The video meant for informance was cut short. However, it was just enough to get me interested in someday wanting to see the musical.

Well, during this staged concert, I had some of the exact some actors/actresses I had when I saw Les Mis back in the West End in 2015. Look- what is in common between Les Mis is that I am ALWAYS an emotional wreck. That always happens. If I start tearing up before “I Dreamed a Dream”- that is usually saying something, which happened during the US Tour 2019 and this staged concert. It doesn’t seem to matter who is in the cast for me to cry in Les Mis- that is the truth.

https://megsdailymusings.wordpress.com/2019/12/10/les-mis-staged-concert/

A Christmas Carol was the last show of this year. While being the last show, it was the first straight play. The story of A Christmas Carol means a lot to me. I have loved the story since I was a child- I was raised on the George C. Scott movie.

https://megsdailymusings.wordpress.com/2019/12/13/a-christmas-carol-review/

Christmas Services/ Christmas:

Advents Lessons and Carols/ Christmas Lessons and Carols- these are filled with more hymns and lessons than others throughout the year. I love how there is more hymns. Those two services are some of my favorites throughout the year.

Candlelight Christmas Eve Service was one of the Christmas services I love over the Holiday season. This one takes place at 10:45 p.m, but the prelude starts at 10:15. The prelude for this particular service is always worth it- at this one, there is the regular organ and on top of that, a trumpet and a string quartet is added. This particular year, a new piece was written specifically for the adult choir at my family church- so no other church but ours got to listen to it. I actually cried during part of the prelude- so it wasn’t just two musicals that made me cry. At the beginning of the service, we are given a candle for “Silent Night” where the lights go off and our candles are lit. A beautiful beautiful service.

Of course, I loved Christmas. Examples of presents include the Hobbit/Lord of the Rings trilogy movies, tickets to Come From Away and Frozen, Original Broadway Aladdin Soundtrack, etc…. Christmas is my favorite holiday.

Happy Christmas Eve 2019

It’s hard to believe its Christmas Eve already. For me, Christmas actually begins on Christmas Eve. Today, I do attend church, but there are four options. The one I go to is the Candlelight Christmas Eve Service. That one is actually at 10:45 p.m. You saw that right- it really starts that late, but you need to get there early to be able to listen to the prelude, which begins at 10:15.

At a typical Church service, there is only the organ playing, but at this one there is a trumpet and strings. When you come into the sanctuary, you are given a candle, which is used for a later part of the service. Those candles we are given are used during “Silent Night”- the lights are dimmed down and our candles are lit. By the time the church ends, it is Christmas. It is such a beautiful beautiful service.

My love for Christmas

Everyone has their favorite holiday. One of the reasons why Winter is my favorite season belongs to Christmas. Christmas is my favorite holiday. I love the lights outside and inside- inside as in on the tree. I love the decorations. When possible, Christmas is a time of giving back to those in need- like Room in the Inn, which my church does every Winter (I volunteered for it yesterday). Christmas always has some of the best music- Silent Night to Away in a Manager to The First Noel to White Christmas….etc. Then there are the holiday movies I love to watch—there are three in particular I hope to watch: A Christmas Carol (The George C. Scott version), Elf, and White Christmas- that has already been accomplished. I love the Candlelight Christmas Eve Service- that one takes place at 10:45 pm, but the prelude begins at 10:15- that one has the organ, trumpet, and strings- quite a beautiful service.

2019 Musicals/Play

Well, usually every year on my blog I do a short review of all the musicals I saw. This year it a bit different- I think it is the right year to include one straight play. That list is Fiddler on the Roof, Miss Saigon, Aladdin, Les Mis, and A Christmas Carol. Why was I allowed to include A Christmas Carol if it was a straight play? That was because of the importance and meaning of it in my life.

Fiddler on the Roof

I fell in love with this musical through the movie. I never thought I would get to see the stage musical. I actually was not expecting this to be my first musical- I thought it would be Miss Saigon. Turns out I was wrong. In the early part of February, my mom and I once again took a vacation alone to St. Louis (Yes, another place) to visit my grandma. So, I would be back at the gorgeous Fox Theater. It was worth everything- seeing a classic to start off the musicals was a great way to begin. Below is a link to the review.

https://megsdailymusings.wordpress.com/2019/02/04/tradition-fiddler-on-the-roof-review/

Miss Saigon

My first tragedy of this year. I knew I would be crying since I knew my reaction to Les Mis. I knew that those who wrote the music to Les Mis also wrote Miss Saigon. That is exactly why I wanted to see Miss Saigon someday. This time, I was seeing it at Belk Theater. I had such a strong Kim and Chris that I really did not want their relationship to become tragic though I knew it was to be. Yes, I was in tears at times- like expected.

https://megsdailymusings.wordpress.com/2019/02/23/miss-saigon-review/

Aladdin

I had only seen the cartoon movie and live action movie of Aladdin before seeing it live. Another musical seen at Belk Theater. Ever since hearing about Blumenthal’s 18/19 season, it was Miss Saigon and Aladdin I wanted to see the most. I was not expecting to get emotional in any song- after all Aladdin is a musical comedy. Well, in this production, I got somewhat emotional during “Proud of Your Boy”. Ever since seeing it, I want to own the Original Broadway Soundtrack. Spectacle, comedy, dance, romance, emotional connection.

https://megsdailymusings.wordpress.com/2019/09/12/a-magic-carpet-ride/

Les Mis

Another Blumenthal Musical, but at Ovens Auditorium. This was actually the 2nd date my mom and I had to Les Mis (the 1st being in the West End). As a matter of, 5/9 of the principal cast were in the principal cast I had in 2017: Josh Davis (Javert), Jillian Butler (Cosette), Joshua Grosso (Marius), Matt Shingledecker (Enjolras), and Allison Guinn (Madame Thenardier). I would have had a sixth, but got an understudy instead- I got an understudy for Nick Cartell (Andrew Maughan was my Valjean that night).

I did get the Fantine I wanted- back in 2017, Mary Kate Moore was nothing more than the 1st cover for Fantine (that was when Melissa Mitchell was the main Fantine)- when Melissa left the cast- well Mary Kate Moore moved up to be the main one. Her story really does show how we should never underestimate understudies.

So, I saw two tragedies this year written by the same team. Two tragedies that reduced me to tears. Les Mis still hit me the hardest- my tears started earlier than “I Dreamed a Dream”- that usually says something because typically that song is where I start tearing up. This was my 6th time seeing Les Mis. For more, look at the review below.

Ovens Auditorium

https://megsdailymusings.wordpress.com/2019/11/04/a-new-revolution-6th/

A Christmas Carol

Yes, I am including a straight play in this mix of musicals. A Christmas Carol holds a lot of importance to me. It has been in my life for a long time- every Christmas season, my family watches the George C. Scott movie. This was the only show I saw at a community theatre (Theatre Charlotte). In many ways, I believe A Christmas Carol could have begun my love for the classics. It truly teaches you what Christmas Spirit is, why you become who are, and that you are capable to change. It does have a lot of nostalgia in it due to how long I have loved it. Its meaning to me is exactly why it can be included- I might prefer musicals, but this story is one that I love.

https://megsdailymusings.wordpress.com/2019/12/13/a-christmas-carol-review/

A Christmas Carol Review

Yes, I have seen four musicals this year, but there is one show I saw this year that holds the same kind of importance. That would be the straight play, A Christmas Carol at Theatre Charlotte. As a matter of fact, I do not even remember if I even saw a show there (it is one of Charlotte’s community theaters). Do you know why it holds the same importance as Fiddler on the Roof, Miss Saigon, Aladdin, and Les Mis? That is because of the importance of A Christmas Carol in my life. A Christmas Carol entered my life a long time ago when I was either in elementary or middle school- by the George C. Scott movie. It soon became a tradition in my family to watch it every Christmas Season. So, now I would be seeing the stage show of it (I did watch Scrooge, the musical of A Christmas Carol, but do not think I remember a time when I saw watched the straight play. The difference with this show compared to any musical I saw was that my family actually knew one of the cast members- one of the main reasons why we wanted to watch it this year.

My Scrooge was Ron Law. It can be easy to compare him to George C. Scott’s Scrooge, but I did not. I was enjoying him more and more as the play continued. Who was the young Scrooge: Blake Harwood.

You also had Rick Taylor as Jacob Marley, Anna McCarty as Ghost of Christmas Past, Chip Bradley as Ghost of Christmas Present, John Rendlemen as Ghost of Christmas Future, Maxwell Greger as Bob Cratchit, Pearce Stinson as Tiny Tim, and Keyes Miller as Fred.

The ensemble was amazing- from the children to the adults. Literally, when I saw the costumes, it was like they were coming right out of the book. This is a small community theatre we are talking about. The special effects of the fog and the sounds gave the feeling that A Christmas Carol is supposed to when the Spirits come.