Review of Les Mis

Just yesterday, I saw Les Mis in Greenville with Gardner Webb. It was my 5th time seeing it live and my 2nd time with a professional cast. With this production of Les Mis, I saw the 25th anniversary production. I had an understudy in this performance for Eponine, which was coincidental since last time I saw Les Mis, I had an understudy for Jean Valjean. I sat in the balcony towards the middle, which were impressive seats even though at first I didn’t know how much I would see since we were so high up, but still being up that high allowed me to see the entire stage.

Possible Spoilers on both plot and staging.

Leading the cast was Nick Cartell as Jean Valjean. He was such an impressive Jean Valjean. His version of “Bring Him Home” was so beautiful and sounded like a prayer and was quiet enough for what the scene required. He was warm and gentle around Cosette. It is amazing how his voice still had enough power when he was quiet during “Bring Him Home”. Then once again, he was quiet enough during his death scene. That is saying something because I was sitting in the balcony and I could still hear him even in quieter moments. During the scene where he let Javert go, he was able to act it to show that he forgave Javert.

Josh Davis was Javert and I felt like he had the right voice for Javert, but something felt off. He did a wonderful job during “Stars”. I had a hard time having an emotional connection to Javert. It is very hard to find common ground with Javert. I just do not know what it was, but something was off so he was weaker compared to Jean Valjean so part of their dynamic was off. Even though something felt way off in Javert, this production showed that Javert does have heart, which was shown when he saw the body of Gavroche when he went back to the barricades.

Melissa Mitchell was Fantine. She played Fantine as a naive young woman as opposed to a very desperate one. She played her naivety in a way that showed she was quite naive when she first became a prostitute because she did not quite understand that job at all at first even though she was fighting for the life of her daughter. She was so quiet in her death scene, but was still able to project to the balcony. It is heartbreaking that she is still thinking about her daughter during her death, but acted like she was thankful that Jean Valjean will be raising her daughter.

Sophie Knapp was such a wonderful Young Cosette. She has such a beautiful voice, which was clearly shown during “Castle on a Cloud”. She was small enough to look like she was eight at the time. She acted a bit nervous and scared around Madame Thenardier. Her “Castle on a Cloud” shows that she has hope that she will be rescued. She was quite a broken child.

Allision Guann as Madame Thenardier and J. Anthony Crane as Thenardier combined were hilarious like they needed to be. Allision Guann was able to be mean enough around Cosette and acted like she actually love her daughter, Eponine at the time. The Thenardiers’ version of “Master of the House” was quite hilarious and during the Bargain, the funny thing was the audience knew they were lying, which made it funny. Even during “Beggars at the Feast”, they were hilarious.

On to the youthful love triangle between Eponine, Marius and Cosette. This was such an innocent and youthful love triangle. Talia Simone Robinson as Eponine was an understudy and she was able to embody Eponine. During all of the Paris bits, she was very playful and flirty around Marius, but she still was able to express her heartbreak that he will never love her. “On My Own” was heartbreaking and at the end, I could hear tears coming from her, but she decides to continue to love Marius despite the unrequited love. “On My Own” demonstrates Eponine’s miserable and empty life and shows her strength and heartbreak over the unrequited love.

Jillian Butler as Cosette had such a beautiful soprano voice during both “In My Life” and “A Heart Full of Love”. Joshua Grosso as Marius was quite awkward during act I especially during “A Heart Full of Love”. It made the couple so cute and wonderful during that scene. When Marius first bumps into Cosette in Paris with Eponine standing in the back wasn’t fully effective, but feeling for all three was the most effective during “Heart Full of Love”. So I loved seeing the awkwardness during “A Heart Full of Love” and it was shown in a way that is like I am in love, but I don’t know what to do with it. This two were such a cute couple and I learned to love the two characters more.

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About Marius and Eponine, their version of “A Little Fall of Rain” was so believable. I really believed that Eponine was shot due to some of her non-verbals and noticing that it took effort to move since she was getting weaker as the song continued and she was also quiet enough. Joshua Grosso wasn’t heartbroken during the entire performance because he was comforting towards her and brave towards her. But when he ends the song with “grow”, that voice was so heartbreaking. It took him some time till he could say the word since he was quite stunned that Eponine died.

Joshua’s version of “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” was heartbreaking. Even during “Drink with Me”, when he sings about Cosette, it makes sense because he just lost Eponine and knows that most likely all of his friends will die and knows that if he survives, that he will only have Cosette.

Wow, Matt Shingledecker as Enjolras was such a passionate Enjolras. He brought out the intensity and passion that the character needed. All of the students were able to express their hope towards the rebellion. They also were able to show their passion towards the cause. Julian Emile Lerner was such a wonderful Gavroche. Even though he was just a boy, he keeps an eye on Paris and acts as if he runs the city. Despite being young, he had passion towards the cause as well.

About the ensemble, they were just so impressive. Their version of “One Day More” was so powerful and epic. Even in epic scenes like the opening or the second “Look Down”, there was the epicness that the songs required.

Wow, about the staging, I saw different staging than the West End. Even though the revolve wasn’t there, I still loved this staging. There was more color in this set. The different set pieces moved so smoothly between scenes. Like during “Paris/Look Down”, as the song continued, different areas opened up to show the scope of Paris. The paintings in the back actually moved some throughout the show. Those paintings gave a piece of Hugo in the show. The staging during the sewers showed how massive the sewers are and Valjean carried Marius in different ways. The staging during “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” adds even more emotion than the actor alone could do. During “Turning”, the women put candles down and then Marius comes out to sing the song and the students come out and pick up the candles and eventually blowing them out, which was a heartbreaking thing to watch.

About the sound system, the orchestra was so incredible. I could tell from the prologue that I would love the orchestra and they kept it together throughout the entire show. The sound system was incredible especially at the barricade. You could hear gunshots hit the back of the theatre so it felt like you were at the barricade.

So I would rate this production a 5/5 even though there were some actors that could have needed improvement such as Javert. But all in all, I loved this cast a lot, love the staging so much. Still such a beautiful story. To be honest, a more advanced staging gave more complexity to Les Mis. It was so good that I was an emotional wreck and that I ended up speechless.

Tomorrow, I plan to compare all three productions I have seen.

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How Do You Inherit Eternal Life?

As Jesus started on this way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teachers” he asked. “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good-except God alone. You know the commandments. “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.”  “Teacher, ” he declared. “all these I have kept since I was a boy”. Jesus looked at hime and loved him “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

_Mark 10:17-21

This piece of scripture was what the sermon from the Gathering on Tuesday talked about. This man approached Jesus and asked “how shall I inherit eternal life?”. The answer to that is love. Jesus told the man that he knows all the commandments that must be followed. Jesus said the only good is God. God knows where everyone’s heart is and their treasure is where the heart is. It is important to follow Jesus in order to inherit eternal life. When Jesus asks the man to sell all his things, the man left feeling sad. Jesus said that he must sell everything to give to the poor and doing charity is important when it comes to the life of being a Christina.

How often do we say “no” when we choose not to follow Jesus. Why do we sometimes ignore Jesus? One of the reasons why is that we get so frustrated when we give up and we are holding on so hard that is preventing us from following Jesus we have to follow him. The world that we live in weighs us down and we get so caught up in the world that we think the world is so perfect, but in reality it is painting a false image of society and the planet that we live on. There is a nastiness and filth we sometimes don’t take notice of and that will continue to weigh us down.

In order to follow Jesus, we cannot let the devil control us. We need to be able to cling to the goodness of Christ and his mercy and his hope in order to be a true Christian. Showing goodness and mercy and hope to others is how we can follow Jesus and how we can help fix this broken society.

What do you think of this piece of scripture.

 

 

Why I Love the Love Triangle in Les Mis

Yesterday, I talked about Phantom of the Opera’s love triangle and the day before I talked about  Wicked’s love triangle and now today it is time for me to talk about the Les Mis love triangle. The Les Mis love triangle is the second love triangle that entered my life and is between Eponine, Marius, and Cosette. In this post, I will try to explain why I love this love triangle. I know why I love this love triangle, but still seem to have to a hard time putting it into words and that it one of the special things about Les Mis.

In this love triangle, both Eponine and Cosette love Marius and it is Eponine who ends up with the unrequited love. This love triangle is youthful and full of hope and light, but full of pain and heartbreak and those two aspects are reasons why I love it. In my personal opinion, I love the way the love triangle is set up. Since Cosette represents hope and light in Les Mis, it makes sense why she ends up with Marius and why Eponine gets the unrequited love and makes sense because of the switch that happens between the two girls. Cosette and Marius are a beautiful couple and they wouldn’t have gotten together if it wasn’t for Eponine

Eponine is an unique factor in this love triangle and a big reason why I love it. Despite the love being unrequited, Eponine continues to stand by Marius even though he stays oblivious to her love for him. If it wasn’t for Eponine’s empty and horrible life, Marius’ kindness wouldn’t have moved her so much to love him as deeply. All Eponine wants is to feel loved, but she still continues to stay faithful to Marius. It was Eponine that got Marius and Cosette together and she protected Marius and risked her life several times for him. Eponine is my favorite of the characters in the love triangle and one of my favorite characters in the entire musical.

You wouldn’t expect a teenage girl going through unrequited love to respond in the way that Eponine did, but if you think about it, Marius is literally all she has in life and he is the only good in her life and the only person who ever shows her kindness. Because Eponine’s love for Marius is so deep, there is a lot of heartbreak and pain in the unrequited love, but is still strong, which is clearly shown throughout the beautiful and powerful “On My Own”.

This love triangle has two instances where you end up feeling for all three of them at once, which is quite clever. The first is when Marius first bumps into Cosette and the second is towards the end of “A Heart Full of Love” when Eponine joins in. You end up feeling wonderful for Marius and Cosette, but heartbroken for Eponine so you can end up feeling a bit confused about your emotions.

On a side note: this love triangle actually made me realize that unrequited love is a heartbreaking situation to be caught up in. It took an entire year to realize “On My Own” was heartbreaking. It was that song that made me understand “I’m Not That Girl” was heartbreaking, which strengthened Wicked’s love triangle, which isn’t even a straightforward love triangle.

What are your feelings about the Les Mis love triangle? What makes this love triangle unique?

Is Marius and Cosette a Wonderful Couple?

Yesterday, I talked about why I am not bothered by “love at first sight” in a musical. Today, I will talk about a couple that falls in “love at first sight”. Those two characters are Marius and Cosette from Les Mis. A lot of people think that they shouldn’t have been a couple because they fall in “love at first sight” and that Marius should have ended up with Eponine. Well, in this post I will explain why I love Marius and Cosette together.

Possible Spoilers:

When you first meet Cosette, she is lodging with the Thenardiers and she is eight at the time. You learn that she is horribly abused by them and is forced to be a servant. But Jean Valjean comes to the rescue after promising Fantine that he will raise Cosette as his own after she dies.

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In Les Mis, Cosette is supposed to represent hope and light. True, she isn’t as developed as many of the other characters, but she grew up in a very sheltered and protected life. Valjean only sheltered her because he is an ex-convict and if he is out much, he has the danger of being caught by Javert. Yes, I love Eponine the most out of the three despite how horrible and dark her life is. Yes, in a way it would be happy if Eponine ended up with Marius, but if that was the case it would not make sense at all and Eponine just wouldn’t seem like the Eponine we come to love.

One interesting plot point in Les Mis is the switch that happens that Eponine and Cosette. Cosette had a horrible childhood, but her life improved after Jean Valjean rescued her. The rescue of Cosette is one place where you begin to understand that Cosette is supposed to represent hope. In the case of Eponine, she starts out by being spoiled by her parents and appears to be loved by her parents however that is not always going to be the case. After Cosette is rescued by Jean Valjean, Eponine gets the same treatment that Cosette got and her parents teach her the ways of being a criminal and her family falls into extreme poverty. So due to the switch, it makes perfect sense why Cosette ends up with Marius and why Eponine ends up with unrequited love for Marius.

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Les Mis is played out so nicely that it truly works that Marius and Cosette get together. If it wasn’t for Eponine, Marius would never have met Cosette after he fell in love with her. True, when Marius fall in love with Cosette, he was conflicted between his passion for the rebellion and his passion for Cosette. He does decide to fight in the rebellion after believing that Cosette is leaving. As a matter of fact, if Marius never loved Cosette, he most likely would have died during the rebellion because Valjean would not have come to the barricade to protect him. During the rebellion, Valjean learned that Cosette loves Marius and due to that, he heads over to the barricades to protect Marius.

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Marius faced a lot of trauma at the barricades. First, Eponine was fatally wounded and that left him quite upset. But he still showed compassion by being with her till she died. In an odd way, it even makes sense that Eponine died because it makes perfect sense why Marius would be the only survivor. The real June Rebellion was highly unsuccessful, which is why it makes sense that Eponine, Gavroche,Enjolras and all the students died during the rebellion and it makes sense that Marius survived because if he died, Cosette would not be able to represent hope and light and Jean Valjean would have had less of a spiritual journey and Les Mis just wouldn’t be Les Mis. “Bring Him Home” is Valjean praying to God to protect Marius and allow him to survive. After Marius fall unconscious, Valjean carried Marius to safety. Marius suffered from survivor’s guilt after discovering he is the only one alive. Cosette did care for Marius while he was recovering so Cosette does show that she loves him even if it is hard to notice.

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Due to Cosette representing hope and light, Marius needed to survive. Cosette and Marius did survive during all of Les Mis and did get married. Of all the Les Mis characters who survived (which isn’t many), Marius and Cosette are my favorite characters. Les Mis is such a tragic tale and as a result, I love that Cosette represents hope and light. That is why it makes sense that she got married to Marius and that both she and Marius survived all of Les Mis. True, Marius knew Eponine longer than Cosette, but why should that be a factor into who Marius falls in love with? I love “A Heart Full of love”, the love song in the piece and most of it focuses on Marius and Cosette and later it focuses on all three. This love triangle isn’t silly because love is one of the biggest themes in the musical and it means love in different forms and the love triangle forms two types of love.

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In relationship to this post, below I have a link to a post I wrote about the love triangle in Les Mis.

https://megsdailymusings.wordpress.com/2016/11/08/love-triangle-of-les-mis/

What are your thoughts on Marius and Cosette as a couple?

Messiness of Life

Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful

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This is so true. Life is beautiful in so many ways. Everyone goes through these rough and dark times. But those times do help us appreciate the best times in our life even more. Without those rough times, how will we know what the good times are? No one likes feeling the negative emotions or living through darkness, but they are worth it because it is part of life. Life is precious and as result, we need to make the most of every moment even in the darkest times and even when we struggle to see the light. In those dark times, it is good time to learn and try to find something good when those times strike.

A perfect life is nearly impossible. There is no way we can live a life of just light and just positive emotions. It is natural to feel hurt and is beneficial. In those dark times, just look towards the light and don’t think you are moving away from the light. Incredible memories have been part of my life and even bad memories have been part of my life. I do the best I can to live in the moment. What do we do with the short time that we have? The best way is to measure your life in love and live in the moment. The beauty of life comes from experiencing positive and negative emotions because you cannot have one without the others.

Try to learn from your past mistakes instead of running away from them. We all make mistakes. Sometimes you don’t know you made a mistake until later on in life. It is so easy to be close-minded to certain things and is surprising when you learn to love something you thought you would hate. We make mistakes to learn a lesson. I love life because it is so precious and fragile, but so worth it.

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.

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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.

Trusting in the Lord

“God is within her, she will not fall. God will help her at break of day”

-Psalms 46:5

This quote really shows how much God is part of our lives. It shows that God will not give up. He will help us when we are broken and will help us when we are not. He lives inside of us through the Holy Spirit. Throughout college, I have found ways to help strengthen my spirituality. Every week, I attend our student-led worship service and singing those songs really enter and fill me up with the Holy Spirit. By attending weekly, I am able to develop my strong spirit and you can feel the energy from all the students singing. Sometimes I have to be reminded that God will always be a part of my life and one place I find that is through the sunsets and sunrises that I see. When there is a test, I look up to God and trust Him that I will get through them.

God is highly important to me. He  teaches us the importance of love, compassion, forgiveness, and kindness. He helps show us the light in the midst of darkness. He helps guide us so that our dreams will come true. He guides us in the midst of trouble and when we are heading in the right direction. Everyone has God-given gifts and we must use them to our advantage. We might feel broken at times, but God will always look over us.