Importance of Christ in Our Lives

Happy Easter!

Well, today is Easter and I thought it would be fitting to have an Easter-related post. Well, Easter is all about Christ’s resurrection and we need Christ in our lives. He helps gets through dark times of our lives. He helps us thrive through hardship and for He helps me thrive in college. He teaches us the importance of compassion, love, and forgiveness. We need Him in our lives. Life isn’t easy and He helps us survive even when things are rough. Christ did a lot for us and died to save us from our sins. Without Christ, I don’t know where I would be right now. His love for us is incredible and without Him, the world would be even darker and a scarier place to live.

 

My Strong Love for Musicals and Christian Music

I am so thankful for my deep love for Christian music and musicals. Because without them, I do not know where I would be right now. They truly taught me the power of music. Christian music did teach me that music can bring back memories and can make you feel connected to God. A lot of the Christian songs that I love remind me of the different memories I had at Kanuga. Part of the Kanuga songs remind me of Parish weekends and while the rest are more for Winterlight.

The lyrics below are from a Christian song I learned to love at Kanuga. It is called “The Servant Song” and it reminds me of Kanuga each time I listen to it, but it also reminds me of the Bristol Pilgrimage that I went on two years ago. I sing contemporary Christian music every week at school at our student-led worship service.

We are pilgrims on a journey-7
Motto of the trip

On the other hand, musicals really did teach me the emotional impact of music especially considering the shows that are still so new and fresh in my life. Every single musical has more than one emotion in it. Some have a few and while some have a lot. The five emotions that tie musicals together are excitement, joy, love, heartbreak and sadness, which are five of the most common emotions found in them. I grew up with comedies and happy musicals. I grew up with musicals like Annie, Sound of Music, Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Cats, Grease, Aladdin and Wicked.

Wicked is the musical where I first started to understand the emotional side of musicals. That was back in 2006 when I first saw it on Broadway with my mom. I was only 12 at the time and I do remember “Popular” being my favorite song. This was the only show that I grew up with where I actually remember sad being part of. The main emotions growing up were basically excitement, love, joy, and sad. Heartbreak wasn’t there because I didn’t understand what it meant for a song to be heartbreaking. “I’m Not That Girl” was just a sad song and I strongly disliked “No Good Deed” at the time.

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Even though I learned to love two sad musicals, I found a way to still describe all musicals as joyful and I did that by describing them in the best positive way I can. Those two sad musicals are Les Mis and Rent. I fell in love with Rent by listening to the songs though Pandora and I fell in love with it first, but didn’t realize it was sad until after I had already seen the Les Mis movie. I was able to realize that they both have a positive nature. Rent is really a story about what to do with the life that you have and how do you measure it. It teaches you to live in the moment and measure your life in love and it really is a celebration of life. Les Mis is really a story about hope, love, compassion, forgiveness, sacrifice, humanity and redemption.  Without Les Mis, I may never have actually understood what it means for a musical song to be heartbreaking.

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Other emotions I found in musicals are hope, love, anger, compassion, haunting, uplifting, loneliness, guilt, desperation, devastation, depressing, fear and uncomfortable. I still cannot believe that musicals range from being very happy all the way down to very sad, which is more layers than one might find. Annie would be a very happy show even though it has one sad song in it, which is “Maybe”, but that song isn’t that sad at all. Annie is very happy because it is pretty much all joy from start to finish and barely has any conflict. On the other side, Les Mis would be very sad. Musicals are like a series of ladders overlapping each other with each ladder representing something different.

There is a huge difference between the emotions within a show compared to whether a show is happy or not. Musicals have come such a long way since shows like Annie and Sound of Music which are both very happy and simple and those two do not have that many emotions in it at all. Eventually they built up to a show like Les Mis, which is a lot more powerful and filled with this incredible wide range of emotions starting with uplifting building eventually to depressing. In the past I thought a song could not push past sad, but it sure did in Les Mis. I know deep down that musicals will continue to play games on me and change because I am still young and have yet to discover other new ones.

I don’t Doubt that I will stop loving Christian Music and musicals. I truly learned about the power of music through them. They taught me how music can bring back memories and the emotional impact that music can bring.

The Refuge and Strength of God

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.

God is within her, she will fall; God will help her at break of day.

Nations are in uproar, kingdoms falls; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth.

He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth.

He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth”.

The Lord Almighty is with you; the city of Jacob is our fortress.

-Psalm 46

This psalm shows that God is our savior. He brings light to the world. He is our creator and fortress. When times are in trouble, look to the Lord. He will never give up and he has plans for everyone. Do not fear him at all. There may be chaos and trouble on this earth. But God remains living within us through the Holy Spirit. He will raise us when he fall. He has made us in the image of him. He dwells inside of us and us the Holy Sprit as a guide. It might seem like God is causing chaos, disorder, and brokenness of society. But he is still good and full of love, compassion and forgiveness. It is sin that causes brokenness of society. When we are in need of help, look to the Lord.

 

 

Analysis of Jean Valjean (AKA 24601)

Major Spoilers:

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In Les Mis, Jean Valjean is the protagonist and one of the most complex characters in the world of musicals. At the beginning of Les Mis, you discover that he stole a loaf of bread to save his sister’s dying son. Before Valjean was sent to person, he was a humble and good person. But when he was sent to jail, he spent five years for stealing a loaf of bread and fourteen years for trying to escape, which gives him a total of nineteen years in prison. In this scene, we discover Jean Valjean’s strong dislike towards Javert. This experience hardened Valjean into a harsh, angry, and hateful man and he lost touch of his conscience and forgot who he really is.

Jean Valjean left prison to be on parole forever. He quickly found out that society treated him cruelly because he is an ex-convict and never gave him a job, place to sleep, and food to eat. All of this hardened and angered Valjean further. Jean Valjean shows the injustice that convicts face when they leave prison. At this point, it doesn’t seem like Valjean will change.

Valjean’s fate soon changes once he meets the humble, forgiving, and loving bishop. Out of everyone, the bishop was the only one who would welcome Valjean. The bishop gave him a place to sleep and food to eat. But Valjean was desperate and ended up stealing the bishop’s silverware. Valjean was caught and was sent back to the bishop’s house and the bishop covered up for Valjean and said that the silver was a gift and gave Valjean the silver candlesticks. Valjean knows that he is guilty of stealing the silver and does not clearly understand why the bishop did what he did. The bishop wants to help Valjean head on the right path and gives Valjean’s soul to God. The bishop was able to teach Valjean the ways of the Lord and forgave Valjean. Valjean eventually had an epiphany and realized he needed to change and become a better person even though it means breaking parole. The bishop shows how much one person can directly impact another person’s life.

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Years pass and the transformation of Jean Valjean has begun. He was able to change his name to Monsieur Madeline, but unfortunately Javert become policeman in the town Valjean was mayor of. Besides mayor, Valjean also owned a factory where this woman, Fantine works. We first see Valjean during this time period after Fantine gets into a fight with this other woman, but Valjean asks the foreman to break up the fight. The stage show does not make it clear why Valjean decided to not help settle things in this scene. But according to the movie, Valjean became distracted by the sight of Javert and asked the foreman to settle things. Discovering that Fantine has an illegitimate child. she was fired from her job. Valjean has no idea that Fantine has a child and that she just got fired and Fantine blames Valjean for this.

Three scenes later, Valjean makes an amazing impact on Fantine’s life. Fantine was harassed by an abusive customer and in self-defense, Fantine attacked the man. Valjean was present at the time this took place. Javert wanted to sentence Fantine for six months in prison, but Valjean insisted that she be sent to the hospital instead especially because Fantine has fallen seriously ill at this point in the story. Valjean feels guilty that Fantine was fired from his factory after he discovers the truth about Fantine.

Right after this, Valjean rescues a man whose cart fall on top of him. Javert witnesses this and begins to suspect that Monsieur Madeline is in fact Jean Valjean. One of the greatest things about Valjean is his incredible strength and the book compares Valjean’s strength to the strength of four men. Javert confesses that the “real” Valjean has been found and is about to be sentenced to life in prison. This gives Valjean a dilemma because he could either turn himself in or not. He is mayor and owner of a factory and if he says he is Valjean, he will abandon tons of workers and it will affect his status as mayor. But Valjean knows what it is like to be in prison and feels the innocent man’s pain and agony. He decides to go with the second choice and confess that they caught the wrong man and that was a difficult decision, but the right decision.

On Fantine’s deathbed, Valjean promised to her that he would raise her child, Cosette, as his own. This shows that Valjean is learning how to show concern and compassion towards others. Right after Fantine dies, Javert arrives and tries to arrest Valjean, but Valjean wins and was able to rescue Cosette from the evil Thenardiers.

At this point, Valjean did believe that Cosette was deathly ill due to what Fantine, Cosette’s mother, told him. As a matter of fact, he saw that Cosette was being terribly abused. He discovers that when he finds the little girl in the woods collecting water at night. He was shocked to learn that this was the little girl he was looking for. Even though Cosette barely knew Valjean, she immediately trusted him. Valjean took Cosette back to the Thenardiers and insisted that he take Cosette away, but the Thenardiers insisted that Cosette is better in the hands of them, but Valjean saw through their lies and knew the truth about Cosette.

Cosette was the first person in Valjean’s life after prison that he loved. Cosette had such an impact on Valjean’s life even though it will be tough raising Cosette as he is still on the run from Javert. Valjean rescued Cosette from a terrible fate and raised her to be loving and charitable.

Yes, he may be overprotected and he might shelter Cosette a bit too much, but he is an ex-convict. Valjean’s love for Cosette shows that love can truly change a person. Before Cosette, he did love his sister and nephew before he was sent to prison, but he forgot how to love after being released. So through Cosette, Valjean learned to love again and she is another person that had a huge impact on Valjean’s life.

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Years pass and Cosette, now 17, has lived under the care of Valjean for nine years. She has one of the best fathers. Through Valjean, Cosette’s life changes as well. When the two meet, they were both broken people and they were healed through their love for each other. Valjean became Cosette’s adopted father through unexpected circumstances. As much as Valjean loves Cosette, he never once had the courage to tell Cosette about the darkness of his past. The Thenardiers try to rob Valjean twice: the first being during the Robbery and the second during the Attack at Rue Plumet.

The second time, Valjean was warned when Eponine screamed to alert Marius, Cosette, and Valjean. Valjean was convinced that Javert has found out where he lived and he made the decision to take Cosette to England, but he has no idea that his daughter has now fallen in love with a young revolutionary student named Marius. It is tough because Valjean still has to live the life of an ex-convict.

Later on in the show in act two, Valjean discovers that Cosette has in fact fallen in love with Marius through a letter that Eponine delivered to him. He soon leaves and it is not made clear in the stage show why Valjean leaves after he reads the letter and what he is planning to do. At this point, he don’t know if Valjean plans to save Marius or not. Valjean does not want to rescue Marius in a way because that risks losing Cosette forever or he can actually go to the barricades to protect the one that his adopted daughter loves. Due to how much Valjean loves Cosette, Valjean makes one of the most difficult decisions ever.

We later learn that Valjean arrives on the barricades and I think he went out of love for Cosette in order to protect Marius. Enjolras does not trust Valjean, but after Valjean warns them of some army people, Enjolras learns to trust him. Valjean was given the task of executing Javert, but Valjean decided to let Javert go and shows Javert mercy and forgiveness. Valjean even shows that people can learn to forgive their enemies, which shows through this scene. Valjean realizes that the students and Marius have a slim chance of surviving the uprising and he prays to God to save Marius.

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During the actual uprising, Marius became seriously wounded and fell unconscious, which forces Valjean to carry Marius through the sewers. He did this because he wants to save the man that his adopted daughter loves. If it wasn’t for Valjean, Marius would have died at the barricades.Valjean decides to confess to Marius the truth about him being an ex-convcit and it is not made clear why Valjean makes this decision. Valjean does not attend his daughter’s wedding in order to protect her due to his ex-convict status.

Because Cosette is now out of Valjean’s life, he feels completely broken. He is now dying due to a broken heart. He almost died alone. But at the wedding, Marius discovers that Valjean was his savior at the barricades and learns of Valjean’s current location and takes Cosette there. Marius confesses to Cosette that Valjean is in fact a saint because he saved his life. Valjean does eventually confess that he is dying and decides to give Cosette a note, which tells her of his wounded, broken and dark past. Even though Valjean dies, he accepts it and dies in peace and comfort due to being with both Cosette and Marius.

Valjean is the kind of character that teaches you how you can raise above your background and that you can become a better person. Valjean lives through the example set by the bishop throughout his life. Valjean represents injustice that convicts fact once released. Valjean does seem like the kind of person that isn’t capable to change, but through the act of one person, Valjean truly learned the importance of mercy, compassion, forgiveness, and kindness. Valjean learned about love through the child, Cosette, and it is very hard for him to let her go. Not only does Valjean represent injustice, but he also represents change. He once was filled with so much hate, bitterness, and anger, but he learned to become compassionate, forgiving, kind, good, and even saintlike. He helped save Fantine (even though he couldn’t save her life), Cosette, and Marius.

Tomorrow is Javert.

Discovery of Musicals

One of the best things about being a musical fan is discovering what a musical is capable of. Growing up, I basically discovered what a musical is able to do on a basic level. Through the ones I grew up with, there was dance, spectacle, positive and negative emotions and those emotions were excitement, love, joy, and sad and I even was able to learn that musicals are known for giving you an emotional connection. I even learned that all musicals were happy, but later I discovered that statement was not even true to begin with.

I especially love discovering musicals now because musicals are capable of even more than they were capable of when I was younger. Out of the blue, tragic musicals decided to enter my life. I did believe the all musicals were happy, but I think the tragic musicals picked the right timing to enter my life. It is also even ironic what tragic musical I fell in love with first. It might seem like Les Mis was part of my life first, but it actually was Rent even though I realized Rent was sad after I learned Les Mis was tragic. I fell in love with Rent by listening to the songs through Pandora in Fall of 2012 and did not even know the plot, but I knew I just had to see the stage show live, which still hasn’t happened, but next year it is finally coming to my hometown and I asked Santa to give me tickets to see it next year.

Possible Spoilers of Les Mis:

I started really loving discovering what musicals were capable of when Les Mis entered my life. I first saw that movie in December of 2012 and I was so confused and shocked when that musical entered my life. I was kind of reluctant to see the movie because the preview wasn’t that convincing, but I went anyways just to listen to “I Dreamed a Dream”. Right after Fantine died, I realized Les MIs was tragic and I was thinking “wait a minute, musicals can be tragic”! I just didn’t know what to do and so as result I watched the rest of the movie in such shock that I just had a hard time paying attention. By the end, I only remembered hearing “I Dreamed a Dream”, “Master of the House”, and “Do You Hear the People”. “Do You Hear the People Sing” was stuck in my head and it still is today. So after watching that movie for the first time, I was thinking “did I just learn to like a tragedy?” However I really did not know if I liked it or not.

But I still went straight and started researching the musical almost as if Les Mis was supposed to become part of my life. I decided to give the movie a second chance and I was able to calm down and truly pay attention and thats when I started crying and that time was when I knew that there was something special about Les Mis. During the first time, I think my soul was moved while I wasn’t. But during this second time, I was fully moved and knew that I found something very special in this musical and wanted to know why I felt uplifted so I started digging even deeper into the musical. I later learned it was truly a story about hope, compassion, love, forgiveness, sacrifice, humanity and redemption.

Ever since Les Mis, I was more interested in discovering what a musical is capable of especially in the emotions. Though Les Mis, I realized that musical emotions were more capable than I originally thought. Les Mis just is that kind of musical that is uniquely more powerful and covered with more emotions than any other musical I discovered. The Les MIs emotions I know exist are passion, excitement, love, joy, hope, compassion, forgiveness, uplifting, heartbreak, sad, loneliness, desperation, devastation, depressing, hopeless, uncomfortable, fear, guilt, and anger among many others.

Musicals are more capable than I once thought they are were. That shows how much musicals have grown over the years. Musicals emotions like to mature over time, which makes me feel more vulnerable with musicals as I get older. I even discovered a new kind of spectacle that musicals were capable of, which was circus, which I learned through “Pippin”, which I wanted to see since I listened to “Corner of the Sky” and what I knew about Pippin coming in was the whole circus theme and what Corner of the Sky was about and through the preview and through that song, I was able to guess correctly that Pippin was in fact a musical comedy.

I even have been able to discover different kinds of dance, which was clearly learned through Newsies this year. It was the first musical I saw where the entire cast was mainly male-based. Different kinds of dance were introduced where boys were jumping high up in the air, over each other , dancing on newspapers and sliding under each other.

All because of Les Mis, I became more interested in discovering what in the world musicals can truly be capable of. All because of that musical, I was more inserted in discovering those negative emotions and it was not just the negative emotions that changed because the positive emotions seem to change while negative emotions change since the two clearly rely on each other. Because of all these changes, instead of calling all musical happy and full of life (meaning only those exciting numbers) I started calling all musicals joyful (referring to the experience and the positive nature), and full of life ( referring to the entire story), emotional and unique .

Any other musical fan, do you all like fully discovering what a musical is capable of?

Discover

Capable

Mercy of a Bishop

Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest

-Matthew 11:28

This quote reminds me of the entire bishop scene from the musical, Les Mis. This is the moment in the show where the spirituality truly starts to exist. Without this scene, you really don’t have Les Mis.

Jean Valjean, the protagonist, has just been released from jail. He was sentenced for five years just for stealing a loaf of bread to save his sister’s dying son, but in all sentenced for nineteen years due to multiple escapes. His time spent in hard labor has hardened this good-hearted man into a hardened, harsh, and angry man. Jean Valjean was to realize after being released that society looks down upon him because he is an ex-convict. He kept on trying to find a job, a place to stay, and food to eat, but no one welcomed him. This made Valjean feel inferior and made him hate society even more.

But in comes the bishop. He opened Valjean to his house with open arms and gave him food and a place to stay for the night. Despite the bishop’s kindness, Valjean woke up in the middle of the night and stole the bishop’s silver out of desperation. But he was caught by police and taken back to the bishop’s house. The bishop lied to the police and said that the silver was in fact a gift. The bishop eventually told Valjean to use all of the silver to become a better man. The bishop even gave him the candlesticks, which represent light and hope throughout the entire show. The bishop even bought Valjean’s soul for God. This entire scene was when Valjean learned the ways of the Lord. He vowed to change his life and become a better person. By the end of Les Mis, we see Jean Valjean as a compassionate and saintlike-man. He helped save many lives and he helped save Fantine, Cosette, and Marius.

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The story of Fantine is quite a heartbreaking one. She worked at Valjean’s factory and was fired for having an illegitimate child by the foreman. She blames this all on Valjean, but he was unaware of what went on. She had to sell her locket and hair and become a prostitute in order to provide for her daughter.

One day, she was harassed by an abusive customer and out of defense she attacked the customer and injured him. Valjean saved her life by pleading with Javert to take her to the hospital especially because Javert was going to send her to jail. Valjean was filled with guilt that Fantine was fired from his factory and wanted to make up for it. He saved Fantine during this interaction and was able to get her to the hospital even though it was too late. But he promised her on her deathbed that he would raise Cosette as his own.

He was able to save Cosette from a life of terrible abuse by the Thenardiers. She was a very broken, unloved child at the age of eight. Cosette taught Valjean to love and she ended up having a better life because she was rescued. As a teenager she fell in love with Marius, and when Valjean learned Marius was one of the students on the barricades, he went to the barricades in order to protect him. On the barricades, he prayed to God to allow this young gentlemen to live and not die, even though Valjean was the one to take Marius home.

Without the bishop’s action, none of this would have happened along with other actions. The story would not have been so inspiring if the bishop did not teach Valjean the ways the Lord. Les Mis is truly a story of compassion, forgiveness, sacrifice, humanity, hope, love, and redemption. One of the things that makes Valjean one of the most memorable literary characters is Valjean’s journey from an angered, harsh, and hateful man into a better man.That is the overall message of the story- “To love another person is to see the face of God”

Realization of Les Mis

It is hard to believe how much impact Les Mis has had on my life. It all started in December of 2012. My parents took me to see the movie. The only thing I knew about the musical was “I Dreamed A Dream”, but I had no idea what the title meant. The moment the first character died, I was shocked. I realized at that moment that Les Mis was in fact a tragedy. I thought a tragedy could never exist in the world of musicals. I was so in shock at that moment and that emotion showed up throughout the rest of the show. At the end, I did not know if I enjoyed it or not. The next thing you know, I was digging deeper into the show and was interested in knowing more. I want to say I did enjoy it the first time despite all of the shock I faced.

After the second time I saw the movie, I was curious about why I always feel uplifted and inspired by the end of the show. I was able to realize that the musical is way more then tragedy. I was able to analyze the musical at such a deeper level. After the second viewing, I knew there was something special about Les Mis. I knew it had something to do with the incredible emotional impact due to brilliant songs. It has these themes of love, forgiveness, compassion, hope, humanity, sacrifice, and redemption, which is why the storyline is so inspirational. Before Les Mis, I thought tragedies were just plain sad and I just pushed the genre back due to that kind of thinking. Les Mis did teach me tragedies are way more then sad.

Les Mis changed musical theatre forever. It changed everything that I already knew. All of the emotions were transformed. It was like they were being reborn. There was already joy, excitement, love, and sad. All of those emotions became tested when Les Mis became an important part of my life. I never thought those emotions had more capability in them then I thought they did. Look at what sad did. That one truly was transformed and became deeper then ever before. It became even more powerful and even more layers began to exist. Whenever I listen or watch Les Mis either by movie, concert, stage show, or soundtrack, I am always reduced to tears. I am positively influenced by all of the emotions in Les Mis including the negative emotions.

Les Mis has characters that are so well crafted. Some of the characters have a wonderful arc. Jean Valjean, the protagonist, was able to became a compassionate, honest, and saintlike man despite being an ex-convict. He kept on always doing the right thing even if it could possibly risk his life. Javert, the antagonist, may seem like a villain, but in reality he really isn’t. He just sees the world in black and white and is too obsessive about capturing Valjean after breaking parole.

If you want to look at villains, then look at those abusive, greedy, and cruel Thenardiers. They are the characters you love to hate, but provide the much needed comic relief. You end up falling in love with Gavroche and Eponine, their children.

Eponine is such a loving, brave, and loyal teenager who has to live through poverty, abuse, and unrequited love. She will do anything for Marius even though he will never love her back. She risks her life several times for him. Fantine is also put through unfortunate circumstances, but she manages to thrive through showing unconditional love toward her daughter, Cosette.

As a child, Cosette is so strong due to all of the abuse she faced and once an adult, she is extremely protective and sheltered due to her adopted father, Valjean, being an ex-convict. She may seem somewhat boring, but she is quite curious. Marius is one of the student revolutionaries who is conflicted between his love for Cosette and his passion for what he believes in. He is capable of showing compassion and that is seen through how he treats Eponine. Enjolras and the students are so passionate about their uprising and stay passionate towards the end even when they feel hopeless knowing that they will lose. They want to make a change due to the weak government and they are so close towards each other.

I can’t even pick my favorite character or song from the musical. However, my favorite solo from the musical is “On My Own”. Thinking of Eponine, I love “A Little Fall of Rain”, which is one of the most touching songs and one of the best scenes at the barricades.The songs are so powerful, passionate, and inspiring. Some of the songs have epic quality such as “Look Down”. They truly show honest truth, insight, and vulnerability towards the characters. This show is filled with several emotions and it moves me each and every time.

Les Mis teaches many things. It teaches that you can raise above your background, that there is hope in the midst of darkness and inspires you to become a better person. Learning to play Les Mis on the piano gave me a bigger appreciation of the songs. Due to my love for the show, I was able to play with emotion and passion. Les Mis deserves to be the sensation that it is. It is quite unique and special. It is so inspiring even though it is heartbreaking. Les Mis truly taught me how to embrace the negative emotions in musicals. I was able to learn about musical emotions through the perspective of tragedy.

Realize