A New Revolution- 6th

On November 3rd, I saw Les Mis at Ovens Auditorium during the US Tour. As so many know, I am a massive fan of the musical. This cast will consist of some of the actors I saw back when the tour first was launched- only five of the nine actors from last time were part of this particular cast.

Cast:

Jean Valjean: Andrew Maughan (Understudy)

Javert: Josh Davis

Fantine: Mary Kate Moore

Cosette: Jillian Butler

Marius: Joshua Grosso

Eponine: Paige Smallwood

Enjolras: Matt Shingledecker

Monsieur Thenardier: Jimmy Smagula

Madame Thenardier: Allison Guinn

Young Cosette: Mackenzie Mercer

Gavroche: Robbie Crandall

Seats:

The best seats, at Ovens, in my opinion are in the Mezzanine. I got to sit in the Mezzanine. I loved those seats- I got to see everything and hear everything. They were also were part of the center.

Staging:

As this is the new production, I still love it. I love how it adds a little bit more color by using the paintings as the backdrop- those also add a bit more Victor Hugo into the set. I loved how “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” was staged- that was one of my favorite parts of the new production. The new staging really shows the vastness of Paris. My only disappointment though was that when time changed- there was no year on the backdrop- that does help explain things.

Portrayals:

Jean Valjean- I was hoping to get Nick Cartell (a standout from 2017), but ended up with an understudy. Because he was an understudy, I knew I had to respect and appreciate his Valjean. In most cases, that wouldn’t be the case. Usually, when I see Les Mis, my tears start at “I Dreamed a Dream”- but when I saw it, guess what happened- I started crying during “What have I Done”. I started to become an emotional wreck sooner than I expected. So, Valjean’s transformation started to show- I was wondering how would be tackle “Bring Him Home”, the song many Valjean’s look forward to singing the most. I loved his version of “Bring Him Home”. So, Andrew defiantly was able to bring out Valjean’s transformation.

Javert- so, Josh Davis was an actor that stayed with the tour in 2017 and was part of my cast yesterday. I was wondering if he would be better yesterday. I always struggle with Javert. It is hard to find common ground or feel sympathy. I think Josh was a little bit stronger this time around. He defiantly mastered Javert’s voice like last time, and the reason why I said he improved was because I think he had a much stronger “Stars”.

Fantine- I wanted Mary Kate Moore as Fantine. Back in 2017, she was part of my ensemble, and then in 2018, she become Fantine after being the understudy. It is hard to watch any Fantine on stage. Just like I expected- “I Dreamed a Dream” reduced me to tears. Her Fantine was amazing.

Cosette- Jillian Butler was part of my 2017 cast. She has this beautiful soprano voice. She somehow can connect to a charming and awkward Marius. It actually makes those two a more adorable and better couple. I strongly love Jillian and Joshua together as Marius and Cosette.

Marius- I am glad that I saw Joshua Grosso again. In 2017, he was one of my standouts. So seeing him again was such a delight. He was still a charming and awkward Marius- one example was during “A Heart Full of Love”- he literally treated falling in love with Cosette like he had no idea what to do. Once again, during “A Little Fall of Rain”, he focused more on comforting Eponine less than the heartbreak he was feeling. People might think he should show the heartbreak more, but do not forget in that scene, Marius is also supposed to show comfort and compassion to Eponine as well. At the end, the reaction was a bit different- that was because he was interacting with a different Eponine. I did not even know if he was going to end the song- that did tell me was heartbroken over her death. So, I saw all of the same things I loved about Joshua’s Marius in the first place.

Paige Smallwood- While Jillian and Joshua were still Marius and Cosette, I had a different Eponine. I had no idea how just one actress could impact the love triangle. She could affect it in a minor or major way only because I already saw the other two back in 2017. “On My Own”- that song actually made me cry this time around. “A Little Fall of Rain”- so believable and I could easily tell she was getting weaker and dying and that she was dying after getting shot.

Matt Shingledecker- He was a standout from 2017. It was nice getting to see him this time around. So I had two of my three standouts from last time. He still felt like a passionate leader. It can be hard to describe why I love Matt so much.

Allison Guinn/ Jimmy Smagula- I had seen Allison Guinn both in 2017 and this time around. I had no idea what she would be like with Jimmy. I knew I loved her as Madame Thenardier so it was interesting seeing her with a new Thenardier. Like many Thenardiers, they were hilarious. So Allison does work well with Jimmy.

Young Cosette/Gavroche- The children of Les Mis were Mackenzie Mercer and Robbie Crandall. Playing Young Cosette and Gavroche, they had a challenge to do. To be on stage and to be a child in a show like Les Mis is not easy. They still were incredible in their roles.

Some of my Favorite Les Mis lyrics

Well, part of why Les Mis is such a wonderful musical is because of it’s powerful songs. What are some of my favorite lyrics from its songs?

-Even the Darkest Night will End and the Sun Will Raise

-To love Another Person is to See the Face of God

– A Heart full of Love

– A Life About to Start when Tomorrow comes

-Tomorrow we’ll discover what our God in Heaven has in store

– A Little Fall of Rain can Hardly Hurt me Now

– Drink with me to days gone by. Can it be you fear to die? Will the world remember you when you fall? Could it be your death means nothing at all? Is your life just one more lie?

-Bring Him Home. Hear my Prayer.

-etc: there are a lot of beautiful lyrics in Les Mis. That is part of why it is a powerful musical

What do I love about Enjolras and the Students

MAJOR SPOILERS:

One of the major themes in Les Mis is hope. Enjolras and the students are one of the strongest places you can find hope. Enjolras is the leader of The Friends of the ABC. These students have such a brotherly love for each other and a strong bond. They are quite passionate about the cause they believe in. I love how they take in Gavroche, Eponine’s younger brother. Of everyone found in the students, it is Enjolras who is the most passionate about the uprising.

Enjolras and the Students- Red and Black
Enjolras and the Students

These students stay passionate about the uprising till the end. Even when Enjolras gives them an opportunity to leave, the students don’t. It is amazing how they all have that strong of a bond. You do not truly see much of a vulnerable and intimate side to them until “Drink with Me”- it is during that song when they realize that they realize that they most likely will lose and will die. The result of the uprising: Enjolras, Gavroche, and the students do die in the end: Marius was the only survivor because he was rescued.

Reasons why I still Love Les Mis

There have been people who still can not seem to understand why I still love Les Mis. I usually am asked “why would you still want to see “Les Mis” if you will still feel that way?”. I guess those people do not understand how the connection between emotional connection and negative emotions. I will explain below why I am still a Les Mis fanatic.

I still have a strong emotional connection to the characters, songs, and plot- it is important to form that between all three. If you fall in love with a tragic musical, you need the emotional connection to be strong. In Les Mis, I am NOT just feeling the negative emotions. I am also feeling love, hope, passion, joy, and excitement- those are part of Les Mis as well. When I first saw the movie- I fell in the trap of thinking it was TOO DEPRESSING. I eventually saw the underlying spirituality, which is part of why I am such a strong emotional connection to Les Mis: there are themes of hope, love, forgiveness, compassion, sacrifice, humanity, and redemption in there.

As for the characters, I love the strong connection I have to them. I love most of the principal characters: compassionate and protective Jean Valjean, Fantine, romantic Cosette, romantic and revolutionary Marius; brave and strong Eponine; and passionate and leader, and revolutionary Enjolras. The three other principal characters are obsessive and policeman Javert and the funny, unloving, and abusive Thenardiers. I love the other Friends of the ABC as well. They are so interconnected that they all feel like they belong in Les Mis. I have created such a beautiful bond to these characters. I am surprised that I still can find something new about them each time I see the musical. They will always stay alive in me- even the ones that do die. I love watching their stories unfold on stage even though some are harder to watch than others.

As far as songs: this musical has one of the strongest song lists. Usually in a musical, I can choose my favorite song. However in Les Mis, I cannot seem to choose. From the empowering and epic”One Day More” to the passionate and hopeful “Do you Hear the People Sing” to the bittersweet and heartbreaking “A Little Fall of Rain” to the devastating “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” to the beautiful and soulful “Bring Him Home” to the intimate and heartbreaking “Drink with Me” to the heartbreaking and beautiful “On My Own” to the heartbreaking “I Dreamed a Dream”- there are others that could easily be my favorite. The songs perfectly match the characters and plot. I am still an emotional wreck with these songs- I am glad there is “Master of the House”- it gives you a break- it is comic relief.

As for the plot- it is ultimately a tale about humanity. It is about Jean Valjean’s journey to redemption after being released from prison for stealing a loaf of bread to provide for his family. On top of that, there is a love triangle and an uprising. It is a very complex plot- it can be hard to follow along during the first viewing. It is truly a human story. All of the characters experience some kind of hardship- it truly does show this is what happens in life at times. Everything in the plot is meant to happen: as in if you get rid of one tiny thing, the entire story starts falling apart. It may be a tragedy, but it gives you a message of hope. When a musical is meaningful, it is impossible to stop loving it.

Songs Connected to Friendship

As a continuation of yesterday’s post, I decided to make a list of musical theatre songs that are connected to friendship. Friendship is one of the types of love that seems to be overlooked. Even some of the friendships are underrated, in my opinion. Some of them may not seem like they are related to friendship, but in my eyes they are.

  1. High Adventure
  2. Omar, Babkak, Aladdin, Kassim
  3. What is This Feeling
  4. Popular
  5. One Short Day
  6. For Good
  7. Red and Black
  8. Do You Hear the People Sing
  9. Drink With Me
  10. A Little Fall of Rain
  11. Santa Fe (Prologue)
  12. Carrying the Banner
  13. The World Will Know
  14. Seize the Day
  15. King of New York
  16. Once and For All
  17. La Vie Boheme
  18. Goodbye Love
  19. Finale B

Songs about Friendship

Surrounding yesterday’s post, I decided to write a post about the musical theatre friendships. They even can include songs before the characters become friends in the first place. SPOILER HEAVY.

What is this Feeling

  • Yes, in this song, Elphaba and Glinda literally hate each other in this number. You do not think they will become friends at all. This is where it all begins- as enemies.

Popular

  • This is Glinda’s solo. In “Dancing Through Life”, the song previously, Elphaba and Glinda finally bonded through each other. Elphaba literally went to the school dance, and did dance silly, and out of that, Glinda made something magical out of that. “Popular” is when Glinda and Elphaba finally have become friends in the first place.

One Short Day

  • This is when Glinda and Elphaba visit Emerald City for the day. They are finally best friends in this number. I still count this a best friend number- even though it mainly is a day out number- still Elphaba and Glinda are together in this number.

For Good

  • This song is truly about the importance of friendship. It is about what Elphaba and Glinda mean to each other and how they have changed each others lives for the better. It still is bittersweet because they know it is the last moment they will see each other.

Santa Fe (Prologue)

  • This song is a duet between Jack Kelly and Crutchie. It highlights the special and beautiful bond between both of them. They are best friend- out of all the Newsies, Crutchie is the most vulnerable. Jack looks out for him the most. I love the two of them the most out of all the Newsies.

Carrying the Banner: plus all of the group Newsies numbers

  • All of the group Newsies number highlight the brotherly love they have for each other. Carrying the Banner, in particular, shows that since it is the first number you see them together. The World Will Know is when they develop their union. Seize the Day is when they begin their strike. Those three are in act I. King of New York is when they are in the newspaper for the first time and Once and For All is when they print their own paper and makes it more public. All of them- shows their brotherly love for each other.

Red and Black

  • In many ways, the Friends of the ABC are like the Newsies. Yes, you first meet some of them in Look Down, but you first see them as a whole group in Red and Black. Red and Black is when they start planning the uprising- Enjolras is their leader. You begin to see their brotherly love and passion in this number.

Do You Hear the People Sing

  • Yes, back to Enjolras and the students. Now, you defiantly know their passion. It is strongly shown through this number.

Drink With Me

  • This shows a more vulnerable side to Enjolras and the students. By this point, they know they most likely will fail and will lose their lives. They wonder if those they love will miss them. It is their last intimate moment they have with each other- the result is all of them do die in the end except for Marius.

A Little Fall of Rain

  • I wanted to somehow express the friendship between Eponine and Marius. It is “A Little Fall of Rain” that come to mind. It takes place at the barricade. Eponine sacrificed her life for Marius. She is in the arms of Marius- that is why this scene is bittersweet. She may be dying, but at least she is in the arms of the young man she loves. This in so many ways is the happiest moment of her life. Marius is devastated during this scene, but I am glad he is there. All that mattered to Eponine in this moment is that he was with her.

Favorite Friendships of Musicals/Literatures

I have talked about my favorite friendships in musicals and my favorite friendships in literature. I thought about doing a post where I combined all of those different friendships. Musicals in so many ways are like literature- they have character, plot, and setting: they just add dance and song to all of that to make something more powerful and emotional. MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD.

Frodo and Sam

  • Would Frodo have made it without Sam? Frodo wanted to do the quest alone after the end of Fellowship, but Sam wouldn’t allow it. He stayed loyal to Frodo to the end. He was always there- whether that meant rescuing Frodo or carrying him. He was that loyal companion. The Ring easily corrupts and weakens the ring bearer, which gets heavier as you get closer to Mordor- that is why Frodo wouldn’t have made it without Sam.

Merry and Pippin

  • They are best friends, and at the same time troublemakers. You might be thinking what on earth are they doing on this quest? Why are they there if they always are causing the group trouble? You eventually find out- they have a reason. Of everyone in the books, it is the four hobbits- Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin that I am attached to the most.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione

  • Would Harry have defeated Voldemort without his two best friends, and would the series be the same if the trio never existed? Just like Sam, Ron and Hermione are loyal to Harry. In the last book, Harry wanted to look for those Horcouxes alone, but his two best friends wouldn’t allow it. In all of the books- they ended up having to go on some mission, which meant breaking a lot of school rules. He needed the two of them to defeat Voldemort. Those Horcoucxes are a lot like that one ring- the difference is there is no way of knowing where they are and they would be anything. Harry couldn’t have found them alone- it would be impossible.

Nicholas and Smike

  • One of the things I about the most about Nicholas Nickleby is all of the compassion he has. He especially showed it towards Smike. Smike is someone who wasn’t shown much compassion. At the school he was working, he did defend Smike, which later caused Smike to follow Nicholas after Nicholas quit that awful school. For the rest of the book, the two of them stayed together- Nicholas was there even at Smike’s death. These two are my favorite characters from Nicholas Nickleby.

Friends of the ABC

  • This is an overlapping literature and musical theatre friendship I love. That means it is in both versions of Les Misérables- the book and the musical. The difference between both versions is that in the book you get to know them as individuals, and in the musical, you only get to Enjolras as an individual and the rest as a group. The other difference is that in the musical, Marius is close to the students (which doesn’t exist in the book).
  • This group is a political group led by Enjolras, the most passionate member. They are like a group of brothers, and in so many ways a family. They are planning an uprising due to the weak government. They have high hopes for the cause they believe in. I do love how they take in Gavroche, who is Eponine’s brother.

Eponine and Marius

  • This friendship in Les Mis in only in the musical, not the book. Eponine is in love with Marius, the only person who showed her kindness and the only good thing in her life. However, Marius is unaware that she loves him. They are close friends and Marius is aware that her life isn’t easy. He does treat her fairly. I love that he is in her life- she needed that.
  • In “A Little Fall of Rain”, you can see how much he valued her friendship. Marius was worried about Eponine- that was why at the beginning of act II, he sent her away from the barricade because he was hoping it would protect her from getting hurt or worse killed from the uprising. However, she did return and got shot, which would turn out to be fatal. There was a reason why he asked: why she came back: he was worried about her safety, and when she collapsed, he released she was shot, and that she was dying. He was devastated, but despite how he felt, he decided to be there for her by holding and comforting during that moment. This scene in particular says a lot: it shows how compassionate Marius is, that he did value their friendship (after all, he was devastated), and he did realize that she did love him. It is a bittersweet scene: all that mattered to her was that he was there: more than the physical pain she was in: she was happy for once. The words he said after she died were “her name was Eponine, her life was cold and dark, yet she was unafraid”- those words were how I knew that Marius knew that she lived a tough life, but at least he was part of it.

The Newsies

  • The Newsies remind me so much of Enjolras and the students in Les Mis. They have a brotherly love for each other, and they are like family. They have a cause (the strike) they truly believe in, and never give up no matter what. Jack Kelly is their leader.
  • On a side note: I love the beautiful bond found between Jack and Crutchie. Cruthcie is the most vulnerable Newsie due to his bum leg, and Jack is his best friend. There is something amazing about their bond.

Lumiere and Cogsworth

  • Is it weird that I love a friendship between a talking candle and talking clock? There is just something about them that I find appealing in terms of their friendship.

Elphaba and Glinda

  • The ultimate friendship, as in my favorite friendship in musical theatre, is the one found between Elphaba and Glinda. It is a beautiful, powerful, and special bond found between two complex and strong young women- they did start out as enemies and later became best friends. They don’t let a boy get in the way of their friendship- they do both fall in love with Fiyero. Both of them do end up with unrequited love for him at some point: but they end up not stealing him away from each other. The song, “For Good”, is the most emotional song in Wicked and talks about how they have changed each others lives for the better and how they have made me each other better people.