Controversial Nature of Rent

One musical that is meaningful to me is Rent and it is one of those musicals that is dealing with controversial and very adult subject matters. This musical is based off of the tragic opera, La Bohème. This musical takes place during the HIV/AIDS epidemic and features a drug addict and members of the LGBT community. Because this is one of my favorite musicals, it shows just how accepting I am as a person. I feel like the meaningful musicals represent who I am as a person.

Possible Spoilers:

The musical centers around filmmaker, Mark, HIV positive and musician, Roger, HIV positive, drug addict, and dancer, Mimi, bisexual and performance artist Maureen, lesbian and lawyer, Joanne, HIV positive, gay and teacher,Collins, and gay, drag queen and HIV positive Angel. True some of these characters belong to the LGBT  community, true some have HIV, and true one is a drug addict, but the characters are way more than that. They are a close kinit group of friends and they are like a family to each other. In the midst of fear, they live in the moment and live life in love.

This show in all has three different romantic relationships. It has the relationship between Mimi and Roger, which is what the main romance is between. Roger and Mimi do have a struggling relationship especially considering the fact that both have HIV. Roger at first does not want to be involved in any kind of relationship because of what happened to his latest relationship. He learned his former girlfriend, April, discovered that she has HIV and that is how Roger got it and she committed suicide, which left Roger quite depressed. He is also a recovering drug addict and does not want the same struggle to happen between him and Mimi. After learning that Mimi is a heroin addict and that she has HIV, this reminds him of what happened between his last relationship.

It has the always fighting relationship between Maureen and Joanne. They never seem to get along and Joanne has a hard time putting up to Maureen’s craziness. But in a lot of ways, the relationships between Joanne and Maureen and Roger and Mimi do represent what can happen in a relationship sometimes. Sometimes, a couple fights and struggles to stay in a relationship.

It has the relationship between Collins and Angel and their relationship is not as difficult as the other two relationships. They realize that because both have HIV, they decide to make the most of their relationship.

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Even though Rent is dealing with a lot of adult subject matter, it is still such a wonderful musical. It’s message is very universal and reminds you of the preciousness of life and that you shouldn’t waste it. It shows how to live life in the face of fear. They live in the moment and live their lives through love. The plot is really about these group of friends and their life in a year. But the plot is way more complicated than what it appears at first glance. Rent is a sad musical, but the message is why Rent is such an inspiring musical. It shows what happens in life sometimes and shows the importance of having a tight-knot group of friends. They are all way more than their labels and people are always puzzled as to way I love the musical. I love the musical due to its incredible songs, its characters, the plot. My favorite character are Mimi and Roger and have no clue why.

This sounds crazy, but Rent is the first sad musical I ever loved. I fell in love with it by listening to the songs through Pandora Fall of 2012 and at the time didn’t even know the plot and it already became meaningful and I found out Rent was sad after I had already seen the Les Mis movie. I saw that movie of Les Mis in December, which was after I had already fallen in love with Rent.

I have never seen Rent live before, but in September, my parents are finally taking me.

Controversy

Analysis of the Finale (Do You Hear the People Sing Reprise)

During the past two days, I have been working on an watercolor art project with my dad. It was inspired 100% by me and I knew I wanted it to be Les Mis themed and I actually did do about 95% of the work when painting. I found the picture in a page to screen Les Mis book that I had. It was hard to figure out how to create a gigantic crowd of people. In the case of the barricade, it took a while till it actually looked like a barricade. We first drew the buildings and the barricade in pencil and then inked on top and then painted them in. In the case of the barricade, it hardly looked like a barricade before it was painted. But as several kinds of brown were painted in, it finally was noticed as a barricade. This picture is from the finale of Les Mis in the movie of the musical.

Spoiler Alert:

To love another person is to see the face of God

Do you hear the people sing lost in the valley of the night. It is the music of the people who are climbing to the light. For the wretched of the earth there is flame that never dies. Even the darkest night will end and the sun will raise. They will live again in freedom in the garden of the Lord. They will walk behind the plough share. They will put away the sword. The chain will be broken and all men will have their reward.

Will you join in our crusade who be strong and stand with me. Somewhere beyond the barricade is there a world you long to see?. Do you hear the people sing? Say do you hear the distant drums? It is the future that they bring when tomorrow comes…” ” tomorrow comes

-Finale, Les Mis

fullsizeoutput_705This scene happens at the end of Les Mis. A few scenes back, Jean Valjean was dying and he died with Cosette, his adopted daughter, and Marius, his now son-in law, by his side. The spirit of Fantine appeared thanking him for raising Cosette. Marius thanked Valjean for saving his life at the barricade and seeing her adopted father die, Cosette was quite devastated.

The sad part is that Jean Valjean died on the night of Cosette’s wedding and by the end, Cosette and Marius have lost everyone that meant something to them expect for each other. Once Valjean dies, the spirit of Fantine escorts him to heaven and at the entrance the bishop welcomes him. Valjean lived his entire life through the example the bishop showed him. That is why he agreed to raise Cosette, why he turned himself in when an innocent man was believed to be Valjean, why he was able to forgive Javert and why he went to the barricades to rescue Marius. All of Valjean’s actions makes his redemption feel so strong in the end.

The song, “Do You Hear the People Sing” appears twice in the show. The first time it is shown as a revolutionary anthem of hope sung by all the students. But when sung a second time, the song is still hopeful, but in my opinion represents heaven. All of the people who died during the uprising reappear as spirits and so does Fantine. The ending is one of the biggest reasons why Les Mis makes you feel uplifted. Valjean’s redemption is so strong at the end and he is welcomed into the kingdom of God. The characters in Les Mis show hope, sacrifice, love, and forgiveness to others.

The students represent a hope for a better future for France. All of them sacrificed their lives for a love of France. Even Gavroche who is just a kid was heroic at the barricades even though he died as well. Both Fantine and Eponine showed love for the one they loved the most and sacrificed their happiness to protect the one that they loved. Fantine did everything she could for Cosette and Eponine protected Marius and did everything she could to make him happy. Even though the love for him was unrequited, she still sacrificed her life for him. In the movie version, Marius was about to get shot, but when Eponine noticed this, she got in the way and took the fatal shot herself. Even Valjean sacrificed his happiness for the sake of others. He loved Cosette so much that he was willing to go the barricade in order to protect Marius because Cosette loves him. Through all of these actions, it shows just how much Les Mis is inspirational and why it is ultimately about humanity.

As a matter of fact, Fantine, Eponine, Gavroche, Enjolras and the Students, and Valjean did not die alone. Fantine died knowing that Cosette was going to be in good hands since Valjean was by her side and promised that he would raise Cosette as his own. Eponine got to die in the arms of the man she loved and it actually was the happiest moment of her because she really lived a very empty life and felt unloved and she got to spend the last moments of her life in the arms of Marius. Gavroche, Enjolras and the students all died with each other.

The finale to Les Mis is one of the most powerful and one of the most perfect ways to end a musical. Right before the reprise begins, Valjean, the Bishop and Fantine all sing the famous lyrics, “to love another person is to see the face of God. Feeling uplifted during the reprise of “Do You Hear the People Sing” makes you realize that feeling all of the misery and heartbreak was so worth it.

My Special Love of Wicked and Les Mis

My top two favorite musicals are Wicked and Les Mis. Each of them are two very special musicals in my life. I even cannot pick which one is better considering how severely different they are from each other. Wicked is the powerful and emotional story of friendship between Glinda and Elphaba and is filled with spectacle/dance and also a musical comedy. On the other hand, Les Mis is the powerful, heartbreaking, epic, inspirational musical tragedy.

Wicked

Favorite songs: Popular (was my favorite song from the show when I was 12), For Good, Dancing Through Life, What is This Feeling, Wizard and I, As Long as Your’e Mine, I’m Not That Girl 

Favorite character: Elphaba (due to how much I relate to her)

Favorite costume: Elphaba’s act 2 black dress

Favorite cast: January 2016 Touring US Production with Mary Kate Morrissey as Elphaba

Why it’s my favorite: The magic, the fantasy, the dance/spectacle, the vulnerable and special and emotional connection to Elphaba-relate to this character so much, the powerful story of friendship and acceptance

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Les Mis

Favorite songs: On My Own, I Dreamed a Dream, A Little Fall of Rain, Bring Him Home, Look Down (Prologue), Look Down (Paris), Drink With Me, Stars, One Day More, What Have I Done

Favorite characters: Eponine, Jean Valjean, Enjolras, Young Cosette, Gavroche, Barricade Boys, Fantine

Favorite costume: No idea

Favorite cast: Summer 2015 West End Cast with Adam Bayjou as Valjean

Why it’s my favorite: the sheer power and brilliance of the songs, the incredible depth of the storyline and characters, the emotional and strong emotional roller coaster, the way the heartbreaking and inspirational natures interlock together 

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To Love Another Person is to See the Face of God

To Love Another Person is to See the Face of God

-Finale, Les Misérables

The above quote comes from the musical sensation, Les Mis. This line is from the finale and truly represents Les Mis as a whole. Les Mis explores many different kinds of love. Love is one of the biggest themes in the show and that theme is one of the biggest reasons why the show is so inspirational despite all the heartbreak and misery.

Major Spoiler Alert:

One of the first kinds of love the musical shows is love for a child. This happens through the tragic Fantine. She is a mother who lives a very tragic and heartbreaking life. You first see her in 1823 as a worker in Jean Valjean’s factory. She has an illegitimate child, Cosette, and her child is currently living with the Thenardiers. Cosette’s father abandoned Fantine and her little girl, which led Fantine with no choice but to leave Cosette with someone else in order to get a job because having an illegitimate child at that time is not okay.

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But what Fantine doesn’t know is that the Thenardiers are terribly abusing the little girl. She receives a letter from saying that Cosette is deathly ill and needs medicine as soon as possible. But its a trap and Fantine doesn’t know that the letter is a big lie. One of the factory girls finds this letter and steals it from Fantine and reads it out loud. This causes a big fight in the factory and the foreman arrives to try to break it up. Valjean asked the foreman to solve this fight. Unfortunately for Fantine, she gets fired and this leads her into a downward spiral.  Her dreams are completely shattered and still continues to care for Cosette.

Fantine ends up selling her locket and hair and later become a prostitute as a desperate means to pay for Cosette. Soon after she becomes a prostitute, she gets into a fight with an abusive customer and she attacks the man to defend herself. But Javert demands that she is sent to jail for six months, but Valjean intervenes and demands that she is to be taken to the hospital instead. While Fantine was dying in the hospital, Valjean promises to raise Cosette as his own and this gives Fantine some peace and comfort because she knows that Cosette will be in good hands.

Another form of love of a child is through Valjean and Cosette. Valjean has to care for Cosette as he promised Fantine. Valjean learns that Cosette was terribly abused and that she is very broken. Cosette is unloved and neglected at the time. At the time Valjean picked up Cosette, she was only eight. Cosette was the first person he ever loved after being released from prison.They are both broken on the inside due to the trauma both have already faced. Cosette is so important to Valjean and that explains why it is so hard to let her go especially as she gets older.

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The Thenardiers are an expectation to love for child. It appears as if the Thenardiers loved their daughter, Eponine, when Valjean came for Cosette. Eponine is the same age as Cosette.But as the two girls got older, their situations reversed. Cosette grew up with Valjean and her life improved and she became the loved child. But Eponine’s life got even worse and her family fell into extreme poverty and she became the unloved and neglected child. This perfectly shows how Eponine’s parents are unloving and that they raised Eponine to be a criminal.

Coincidentally both girls (Eponine and Cosette)  fell in love with the same man, Marius. This created an amazing texture to the show. Marius and Cosette love each other, but Marius only has eyes for Cosette. He doesn’t even realize that Eponine loves him and that is mainly due to fact that Eponine has not even told him that she loves him. Even though Eponine loves him unrequitedly, she still does anything for Marius even if that means he wouldn’t do the same for her. So the love triangle is another aspect of love found in this musical. Some people find this love triangle silly, but is not due to Les Mis exploring different sides of love.

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Another form of love in Les Mis is the love for a country. This is shown through Enjolras, Marius, Gavroche, and the students. They are part of an underground movement and they start the uprising due to the unstable government and General Lamarque who is dying of cholera is the only one left in the government who feels anything for the poor. The most passionate of all the rebels is Enjolras. These students have a love for each other and love for France. Once Lamarque dies, they know it is time to start the rebellion the next day.

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Last but not least, there is a love for God found throughout the musical. You see this initially through the mercy of the bishop. When Valjean was released from prison, everyone would not give him a place to sleep, a job, or even something to eat just because he was an ex-convict. The bishop decided to let him stay for the night and provided a meal. But even after Valjean steals the silver, the bishop still forgave Valjean. Valjean lived by the bishop’s example during the rest of the show. He gives to the poor and helped Cosette, Fantine, and Marius. He confessed to court that he is Valjean when a man was innocently accused of being Valjean. He even helped save the seriously wounded Marius from the barricades. All of this lead to Valjean’s strong redemption at the end of the musical.

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What other kinds of love do you find in Les Mis?

Underground

Universal World of Les Misérables

So as long as there shall exist, by virtue of law and custom, decrees of damnation pronounced by society, artificially creating hells amid the civilization of earth, and adding the element of human fate to divine destiny; so long as the three great problems of the century-the degradation of man through pauperism, the corruption of woman through hunger, the crippling of children through lack of light-are unsolved; as long as social asphyxia is possible in any part of the world-in other words, and with a still wider significance, so long as ignorance and poverty exist on earth, books of the nature of Les Misérables cannot fail to be of use

-Preface of Les Misérables

The quote above is from the preface of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece, Les Misérables. The quote perfectly shows how universal his book is. It is so true that as long as poverty and injustice exists, the book will stay universal. The storyline feels so human and the length of the book is also what makes it such a masterpiece.There is a reason why this book is a classic and why it has become so successful. The book even was turned into a musical, which followed the book’s footsteps of success.

The songs, plot, and character are brilliant and all three are well-crafted together and the songs know how to capture the extreme power and emotion of the characters and storylines. “Les Mis” takes you on an extreme, inspirational and powerful journey. It does make you feel heartbroken and hurt several times, but hope, compassion, love, and forgiveness is always there. Even though the storyline is so tragic, it is still an inspirational musical. You learn to truly care about every single one of the characters even the ones you do not like.

There is a reason why the musical evokes such a powerful, personal, deep, epic, and emotional response in people. It is such a soulful and emotional musical and is highly universal. It has themes that resonate with people that are still shown in society today. One of the biggest themes Les Mis has is love itself, which is shown in many different forms. There is love for a child, love for a parent, love for friends, love for a country, romantic love: both requited and unrequited, and there is also the love for the musical itself. These different forms of love show why the quote, “to love another person is to see the face of God” represents the musical so well.

It has this wonderful batch of characters. It has the ex-convict, Jean Valjean and his journey of becoming a better person and his path to redemption. It has the obsessive policeman, Javert, who is trying to recapture Valjean after breaking parole. It has the tragic Fantine, who will do anything for her daughter, Cosette. Cosette represents light and hope in the midst of tragedy and falls in love with Marius. It has the revolutionary student, Marius, who falls in love with Cosette. It has the brave and lonely Eponine, who falls in love with Marius unrequitedly and who will do anything for the one she loves. It has the funny, but abusive Thenardiers, who are the characters you learn to love to hate and hate to love. It has the passionate Enjolras, the leader of the uprising, and the other members of the friends of the abc. It has the heroic and unloved Gavroche, who spends time with the students. It has all of these wonderful characters who have very different journeys and whose stories wonderfully connect to each other.

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Jean Valjean

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Javert

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Fantine

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Marius, Cosette, Eponine

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Enjolras and Students

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Gavroche

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Thenardiers

The songs in Les Mis wonderfully reflect the storyline. It evokes such a wonderful response in people. The songs have so much depth, insight, and truth along with power and strength. The musical is entirely sung-through and the songs reflect the incredible brilliance of Victor Hugo’s novel. There is just something about Les Mis that makes it the sensation that it is. It is a combination of the songs, story, and characters that make it so successful. The songs are brilliant, the characters are so brilliant and well-crafted, the story is so powerful, inspirational and tragic.

Why do you think the musical and book is universal?

Elicit

My Passion for Les Mis

“To love another person is to see the face of God”

“Even the darkest night will end and the sun will raise”

-Les Mis: Finale

As many may know by now, when it comes to musicals, I am the most passionate about Les Mis. I still don’t know why that is, but do know why I love it is much. Les Mis is quite an unique musical that is so powerful, epic, and inspirational. You see people thriving in some of the most unfortunate situations ever and there is an uprising that students are passionate about and will fight to the end no matter what. That is what makes it such a passionate musical. Les Mis does not make me feel miserable ever even when I am feeling heartbroken or lonely or sad. You are feeling the character’s emotions at those moments and you also have joy experiencing those emotions due to a love you have for the show. Sometimes in heartbreaking situations, you do find happiness in one of the characters.

There is just something about Les Mis that is so captivating,  insightful, honest, soulful, and transforming. It is such a complex musical filled with so many wonderful layers and they make you truly get to know the different characters. This show is covered with several layers of emotions at such a deep level. The songs are brilliant and wonderfully reveal the depths of these characters. The plot, characters, and songs brilliantly work together.

This show represents the survival of the human spirit and despite the heartbreak, it is filled with hope, love, compassion, forgiveness, sacrifice, humanity and redemption. That shows the storyline is more then tragedy. I see it more inspirational then heartbreaking in my opinion. Yes, I know it is heartbreaking, but in fact understanding the inspirational world of the musical actually makes the heartbreaking nature stronger. Compassion is shown at heartbreaking moments such as death. Forgiveness and compassion is given to Valjean through the bishop who helps lead Valjean on a better path.

It seems like I am way too obsessed about this musical. But in reality, this musical truly has changed what I know about musical theatre. It made me look at the emotions differently. I can’t even describe how much the emotional nature of musicals changed after falling in love with this musical. If I have to pick a favorite character or song from this musical, I wouldn’t be able to.

What is it about the characters that makes so memorable? The reason why I love them so much is because they are so complex and strong. You see characters like Jean Valjean and Eponine raising above from their backgrounds. You get to see characters like Enjolras and the students who stand up for what they believe and stay passionate no matter what. There even is Fantine who lives for the sake of her daughter no matter what obstacles she faces. There is misery in all of the characters. The miserable are the wretched, the outcasts, and the fugitives. Some of them are tragic due to society and not their flaws. Fantine falls victim to how society treats women, Valjean falls victim to injustice due to his status of an ex-convict, and Eponine falls victim to how her parents raised her. But that doesn’t stop the characters from thriving or trying to become a better person.

Passionate

Review of “The Brick”

Why is Victor Hugo’s masterpiece, Les Misérables, known as “the brick”?

Just last summer, I decided to read the unabridged version of the “brick”. The reason why Victor Hugo’s book is called “the brick” is because of the length. The unabridged book is over one thousand pages and seems intimidating at first. The title also seems to lead people away from the book because it means “the miserable”, which indicates that the book is going to be a heartbreaking and tragic book.

But there is way more to the story then heartbreak and tragedy.  It takes a lot of work to see beyond that and once you realize what is at the core of the book, it makes the storyline so much better.

I decided to set a goal and told myself I will finish it by the end of the summer. I was inspired to read the unabridged book  because of the musical. I was interested in learning more about the book that Les Mis was based off of. Coincidentally, just like the musical, the book was also panned by critics. Victor Hugo once said “I don’t know if everyone will read this book, but it is meant for everyone”. Victor Hugo wrote a book that is about the survival of the human spirit. Les Misérables is one of the greatest stories ever told.

This is a  basic summary: a bit lengthy, possible minor spoilers

Its protagonist, Jean Valjean, is one of the most memorable and best characters in the world of literature. Jean Valjean had a terrible background by serving nineteen years in prison just for stealing a loaf of bread in order to provide for his sister and her children. This experience turned him from a good man to a man filled with anger and hatred. After being released, he had to be on parole forever. No one would give him a place to sleep or a place to eat just because he was an ex-convcit. That made him believe society will always hate him. But he was offered mercy, grace, compassion, and forgiveness by the humble bishop. The bishop gave him a meal and a place to sleep.

But Valjean was desperate and stole the bishop’s silver and was caught. But the bishop lied and said that the silver was a gift and gave him the silver candlesticks, which will serve as a reminder of the bishop’s kindness. The bishop was able to forgive him and taught Valjean the ways of the Lord. From that point on, Valjean decided to live by the example of the bishop. On top of that, there are is the love triangle between Marius, Cosette, and Eponine, the tragic tale of Fantine, and the uprising  that the students are planning.

This story is about Valjean’s journey from a harsh man filled with anger and hate to a man filled with compassion and goodness to saintlike. He dedicated his life to the Lord and made a promise to the prostitute, Fantine, that he would raise her daughter, Cosette, as his own. Cosette was the first person he ever loved. Cosette and Valjean were both broken and they helped heal each other.

Overall, this book gave me a better glimpse into the time period that these characters lived. Victor Hugo created a book that realistically described early 19th Century, France. He  actually created some of his characters based of experience. The love story between Marius and Cosette  was based off the love between his first lover and him. He saved a prostitute from being arrested after a customer harassed her, which made him wonder if she had a child and Fantine was created. Hugo actually witnessed the June Rebellion of 1832.

It is hard to give a basic summary of the book. That shows that the storyline line is extremely  complex, but very real. It may be heartbreaking, but the book gives you a wonderful glimpse of spirituality. It is ultimately a story of sacrifice, hope, compassion, love, forgiveness, and redemption. That is why Hugo’s story manages to uplift you and why it is so inspirational.

One of the most annoying and frustrating things about the book is that sometimes Victor Hugo interrupts the plot with boring history lessons. He would go into fifty or so pages about the battle of waterloo or twenty pages about the sewers of the Paris, etc. But I did not skip over them because my goal was to finish the entire book. But I understand why he wrote that way. You realize it helps you understand the storyline.

Victor Hugo is so clever with his book. He somehow was able to connect all these different characters though several coincidences. The characters all happened to be at the right place at the right time. For example, the Thenardiers and Marius ended up being neighbors at the same place Valjean and Cosette once lived. Cosette also seems to link the characters together. She is Fantine’s daughter, was adopted by Valjean,  part of a love triangle with Eponine and Marius. Because she was Valjean’s adopted daughter, she was always on the run to stay away from Javert and because Marius was a reluctant revolutionary, she connected to the students.

I was aware when I read the unabridged book that characterizations were going to be different, but that wasn’t going to stop me from loving the characters from the stage show. The Thenardier family was one of the most obvious difference in the book. Monsieur and Madame Thenardier were more wicked in the book and did not serve as comic relief.

You get a better glimpse into the poverty that the family faced. You become aware that Gavroche was indeed a Thenardier, which is not referenced in the musical. Eponine, one of my favorite characters in the musical, was slightly different as well. She was less loving in the book and she lives a more darker life in the book. She wasn’t that pretty in the book either. At times, she does become jealous between the love between Marius and Cosette, which makes her act in selfish and self-destructive  ways at times.

This book gets you a better glimpse into the bishop. The bishop plays a small, but crucial role in the story. Without him, you technically don’t really have a story. Without him, Valjean’s journey would not have been wonderful. The bishop helped Valjean raise above from where he came from.

Other characters include the obsessed Javert, the wicked and abusive Thenardiers’, the streetwise and tough Eponine, the self-sacrificing and tragic Fantine, the revolutionary and lover Marius, and the innocent and angelic Cosette and passionate and revolutionary Enjolras.

I may have read the unabridged book last summer, but had a lasting impact on the powerful, epic, and inspirational musical. This book helped make me appreciate the musical even more and it made the spirituality become more alive in the musical. The musical faithfully reflects the book despite all of the characterization differences, but those differences are for the show’s benefit. The book is so powerful and covered in several emotions. It spans over seventeen years.

You become more impressed at how the over one thousand page book was condensed into a three hour musical. I used my knowledge of the musical to understand the book. I was able to mark up major characters and write in song names. In a lot of ways, I find this story to be more inspirational then heartbreaking. These characters feel so real to you and you truly can care about every one of these characters even if you don’t like them.

Hint: if anyone wants to read the unabridged version of this book, make sure to have a dictionary at hand and mark up things that will help you understand the story. If you are a fan of the musical, I suggest you use your knowledge of the musical to read this book. I know it helped me.