Who are the Thenardiers?

Some people think that Javert is a villain in Les Mis, but in reality the Thenardiers are the true villains in Les Mis.

They are the parents of Gavroche and Eponine. You first get an idea of how despicable they are through how they treat Young Cosette. They treat her as a servant and at the same time, they pick pocket the people that stay at their inn. That gives you idea of the environment Eponine is going to be growing up in. They seem to love Eponine when she is young, but as they fall into poverty, you realize they are more neglectful and unloving towards their daughter. They just use her for their advantage and raise her to be a thief and criminal. They force her to be a part of their schemes by being watchdog for the law.

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About Gavroche, they kicked him out of the house at such a young age. So they do not love either of their children. Then at the barricade, both Eponine and Gavroche are killed, and their parents don’t care. They are not saddened by the fact that their children have died. All the Thenardiers care about is themselves and money. When Thenardier is about to rob Valjean’s house, he basically disowns his daughter for preventing that. At the end of the uprising, Thenardier robs the students despite how young they are.

However, I have a love/hate relationship to them. I love how they provide the much-needed comic relief and without them, two of my favorite characters wouldn’t have existed. I hate them due to how neglectful, despicable, abusive, and unloving they are.

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Who is Cosette?

Les Mis is home to several musical characters. Cosette is another one of them. I already talked about Marius and Eponine, two of the third wings of the love triangle. Cosette is the final wing of the youthful love triangle.

Cosette is the adopted daughter of Jean Valjean. What is important to note is that Cosette was horribly abused as a child by the Thenardiers. Jean Valjean was rescued by Jean Valjean after he promised to raise Cosette as his own. Cosette finally received some love and raising Cosette was not easy on Valjean. Yes, Cosette was over-sheltered and over-protected, but do you blame him: he has to not be resent to prince.

Where does Cosette fit into the love triangle? She falls in love with Marius. I love how she represents hope and light. By the end of Les Mis, she loses her father, but at least she still has Marius. She is an innocent teenager, but she there is more to her than it seems. I used to think she was super boring, but she really isn’t. She really wants to know more about her past and her adopted father’s past as well.

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Who is Eponine?

Back to Les Mis: One of my all-time favorite musical characters is Eponine. She is an interesting character in many ways.

Major Spoilers:

She is the daughter of Monsieur and Madame Thenardier, who appear to love her as a child. However, as a child, you already get an idea of the environment she is going to be growing up in. You see that they are abusive through how they treat Young Cosette and you see them pickpocket their customers so you already get an idea.

Later, Eponine’s life becomes even worse. She is now living in extreme poverty and is more involved in her parent’s schemes. You see just how alone she is in life. She hasn’t been shown much kindness. She is streetwise due to the crimes she has committed with her family. She is so alone in life and you realize that her parents do not love her and just use her for their advantage.  Despite all of this, she still has a spark of goodness in her, and you see this through her love for Marius.

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Eponine can see the kindness in Marius, and that shows that she still has a spark of goodness in her. All because of the kindness he shows her, she falls in love with him. He is all she has in life, and he bring her joy. The sad truth is he does not realize she loves him, and he later falls in love with Cosette. However, none of that stops her from being in love with him. Her love for him is extremely deep and strong that she will do anything for him. She agrees to find Cosette for him even though it breaks her. She stands up to her father when he is about to rob Valjean’s house and that is done out of love for Marius.

She risks her life several times for Marius even if it breaks her even if it means losing him forever. She makes the choice to go to the barricade. Her love for Marius leads her to sacrifice her life for him when he is about to get shot. Her love for Marius is her greatest strength even if it leads to her death. Her death is the happiest moment of her life because Marius is there for her in that moment holding her and comforting her despite all the pain. Even though she is a Thenardier, she still has that spark of that goodness found within her.

Who is Marius?

Next character on this series is from Les Mis.

Major Spoilers:

Marius is more complex than it appears. What people may not know is that he has a political conflict going on go on with his grandfather. He left his grandfather to live a life of poverty. He is this complex, young and awkward revolutionary, who is part of the students of the ABC. He is good friends with Eponine, but is oblivious to her love for him. He is sweet and kind and you can see that through his friendship with Eponine and his love for Cosette and his friendship with the revolutionaries.

He is part of of a youthful love triangle between Eponine and Cosette. He is in love with Cosette and asks Eponine to find Cosette for him and she does. He constantly is naive to her feelings for him, but he still is good to her. Marius and Cosette are quite an adorable couple. They bring hope to this tragic tale and they are perfect for each other in many ways. Marius is capable of a lot of bravery of compassion.

In act II, you get to see just how much bravery and compassion Marius is capable of. It is the barricade scenes. Marius decides to fight with his friends, and that takes a lot of courage. When he first notices Eponine, he sends her away with a letter to Cosette. He sent her away in hopes to protect her because he cares about her and did not want her getting hurt or worse killed.

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Unfortunately Eponine does come back to the barricade. She shields Marius from a bullet heading straight towards him. Marius does not realize at first that she got shot, but when he does, he is devastated. You see in that moment that he is quite upset, and that shows that he did care about her. He decides to show compassion by being with her and comforting till she dies. So Marius is capable of loads of compassion. Even though he was breaking, he was still brave for Eponine and never left her side in that moment.

Marius is a survivor because he almost died but was saved by Jean Valjean. He deals with survivor’s guilt wishing he had died with his friends. He does not understand why he survived and why all his friends died. He does not know who his savior is. All he has left is Cosette and it is love for Cosette that brings hope. He has to deal with a lot of trauma because all of his friends died and now all he has left is Cosette.

I feel like Marius is under-apppreciated. He is a kind, sweet, and compassionate young man. I love that about him and I also love his awkwardness. He cares about Eponine, and I can understand why he is oblivious to her love for him. He just has a lot going on because he has a political conflict going on with his grandfather, is a revolutionary, and let’s remember on essential fact: Eponine never told him she loves him until her death. I want Cosette and Marius together as they bring hope to this tragic tale. So overall Marius is a complex, awkward, sweet, kind, compassionate, romantic and brave young man.

The Talents of the Actors and Actresses I Have Seen

One thing that really impresses me is seeing the talent I have seen on stage when I have seen musicals. Some of the ones I have seen are understudies and standbys and those can really impress me. I have had understudies for characters such as Eponine, Christine, Jean Valjean, Elphaba, Leading Player and Katherine Plumber. Those actors have to work harder than anyone else. I just cannot believe how talented all of the different actors and actresses I have had over the years. I have seen more actors than actresses mainly because of Newsies. Newsies has a cast of mostly males and that is why I have seen more actors.

Les Mis was the last musical I saw and I loved that cast. You had the very powerful and passionate ensemble with some talented principals. It was lead by Nick Cartell and he was wonderful as Jean Valjean and his “Bring Him Home” was so soulful and truly sounded like a prayer and he quiet enough for what the song required and strong enough for what the song required. Another standout was Joshua Grosso as Marius, and he brought this unique nature of awkwardness to the role and of all of the actors in the love triangle, he was the strongest, and I never expect Marius to be the strongest actor because I always expect Eponnine to be the strongest actor, but this time it wasn’t the case. Jillian Butler’s Cosette somehow was able to connect to Joshua’s charming but awkward Marius. My Eponine, Talia Simone Robinson (understudy), was impressive. The fact that she was an understudy made her work harder than anybody else. She had some impressive scenes and some scenes needed some work. She was very playful around Marius and was quite strong during “A Heart Full of Love”, and she was very believable during “A Little Fall of Rain”.

Matt Shingledecker was my Enjolras, and he truly brought the passion and leader side of Enjolras. Even the ensemble was very talented. They were so epic passionate and powerful. The ensemble is very impressive when it comes to musicals and they are a huge part of a show: after all they take up most of the cast.

During Rent, I was impressed with the actors. Kaleb Wells brought out quite an emotional “One Song Glory” and showed his unwillingness to get into a relationship with Mimi. Lyndie Moe, my Maureen brought out her craziness perfectly and she made me laugh during “Over The Moon”.

Newsies was a musical I saw August 2016. It was lead by Joey Barriero, my Jack Kelly. It is hard to describe why I loved Joey. I loved how he showed his bond to Newsies especially his bond to  Crutchie. He brought out the inner conflict that Jack eventually went through. He was able to bring out the emotion felt in “Santa Fe” and the song to me was innocently sad. I don’t know if the innocence felt in the song was how Joey wanted to portray the song or if it was because this was my first time seeing the show. The actors in this show were triple threats. They were very impressive in the dance. They were flipping about two or three times in a row, dancing on newspapers among other amazing tricks and able to act and sing at the same time. The dancing was mind-blowing. The picture below is Joey Barreiro as Jack.

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Highlighting all of the talented actors will take a while. By showing some of the actors, you can tell that I have seen a lot of talented actors over the years. I still have not yet seen the same actor or actress in more than one  lead role. I am glad that each time I see a musical, I am exposed to new actors. I am always thinking how on earth have they memorized everything and they make it seem easy, but in reality it is not easy. It takes a lot of work and acting it much harder than it seems. They are doing the best they can and when you get an understudy or standby, you can get a bit nervous, but I alway regret it.

For example, Mary Kate Morrisey (standby) as Elphaba embodied everything about Elphaba, but brought something new. It felt like she was the main Elphaba. Another understudy that comes to mind is Adam Bayjou as Jean Valjean. He was my West End Jean Valjean, and he played the role so well that I forgot I was actually watching an understudy. So respect the standbys and understudies. You have no idea how much harder they have to work.

How Costumes Play a Role In Creating Character

One aspect that helps you get to know the character is through their costumes. What exactly do I mean by this? To explain, I will give some examples below.

Below is Enjolras’ vest. During “One Day More” and during act II, he wears this vest. It helps us realize he is the leader of the students and the most passionate. It makes him stand out among everyone at the barricade.

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Below you will see Elphaba in her act II dress. In act I, her outfits show she is more innocent and not as mature. But in act II, her outfit looks much more mature and show how she has matured from act I to act II. I love how it looks so good with her skin. It just complements the green so well.

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Another example is from the outfits Eponine wears. She wears a lot of browns in her outfit. That is the color of the skirt in act I and the same color she wears in her act II costumes and in her act II costume, her pants, hat and coat are brown. The fact that she wears the same color shows that she is poor. Her outfits also are dirty, and this helps signify that she is living in poverty, and that is an important part of her character.

 

For Valjean, his costumes help show his character arc. From this dirty costume in the opening to what he is wearing at the barricade shows his transformation. In his first costume, he looks like a convict. Than when time passes, his costume changes. He no longer looks like a convict and you can start to see his costumes representing his journey to redemption.

 

 

Glinda’s outfits during her time at Shiz show that she is girlie girl. The outfit below shows her outfit during the dance that Fiyero arranges. It is very pretty and is pink. She wears more than one dress in the show. This outfit below helps show that Glinda is young and makes you know she is a girly girl during her time at Shiz.

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I don’t know what it is, but something about Jack’s outfit that makes you know he is the leader of the Newsies. I feel like it is a bit different than the other Newsies. But something about his outfit also makes you know he is a dreamer and a romantic.

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Do you think costumes help a role in developing character?

Layers of Heartbreak in Musicals

Musicals are known for being emotional. One of my favorite emotions is heartbreak, which is an emotion I once was blind to. Les Mis was the musical that brought heartbreak to life. I love the several layers that come to it. That basically means that some heartbreaking songs hurt more than others. On this post, I will describe the layers and the best way I can do that is through two songs.

“I’m Not That Girl” and “On My Own” both share the same root, which is unrequited love. However, both have different levels of insight.

“I’m Not That Girl” is dealing with Elphaba’s unrequited love for Fiyero. This song is only moderately heartbreaking. The song has innocence, vulnerability and fragility. Literally moments before, it is the first time the audience realizes that Elphaba is falling in love with Fiyero. Elphaba’s love for him isn’t that strong at this point, which why the melody is very consistent and the melody also shows Elphaba’s innocence at this point in the story. This song once was a sad song for a couple of years, but it was “On My Own” that helped me realize this song was heartbreaking. About the insight, Elphaba admits in the song that she doesn’t think she is good enough for Fiyero because she is green and she does reflect on her best friend realizing that she is in a relationship with him and that is part of why Elphaba accepts the fact that Fiyero does not love her.

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“On My Own” is the more heartbreaking of the two. For starter’s, Eponine’s story revolves around unrequited love. By the time “On My Own” happens, the audience already knows that Eponine is in love with Marius. There are these little sung bits of dialogue that show that she loves him and in “In My Life” and “A Heart Full Of Love”, there are parts of the song that show she loves Marius. By observing her actions, it is already made clear that she loves Marius. Marius cannot seem to pick up on the fact that she loves him.

In this song, you realize just how strong and deep her love for Marius is. This song helps you understand her life outside of Marius. It shows that she is so alone in the world. She is unloved and lonely due to being so alone in life. Her only source of happiness is Marius and he is the only person who shows her kindness. “On My Own” helps highlight this. Throughout lyrics like “Without a home, without a friend, without a face to say hello to” and “a world that’s full of happiness that I have never known” reflects her life. She finally is able to accept the situation she finds herself in and this song shows that she can never stop loving him because he is the light of her life. It actually took about a year to realize “On My Own” was heartbreaking but not sad.

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Just by knowing that one of these songs is more heartbreaking than other shows how layered heartbreak can be.