Top Ten Songs From Les Mis

Oh Boy, how can earth can I pick my top ten songs from Les Mis. That to me is like picking a needle in a haystack. Les Mis’ songs are just that brilliant, but will just do the best I can do. This musical is filled with emotional songs that touch you in such a way that even words alone can’t describe them.

Extremely Spoiler Heavy:

1. On My Own- this will always be in my top ten no matter what. It is just a very beautiful song with a lot of depth and strength filled with emotion. I have this very beautiful connection to Eponine. I love being able to experience just how deep and strong her love for Marius goes, which is perfectly expressed through this song. It even gives you a glimpse of her life outside of him through this song. This even has become my favorite solo in the entire solo. This song can be portrayed in several different ways: each way a different group of emotions can be shown.

2. A Little Fall of Rain- this song is filled with emotion in a very touching and bittersweet way, but super heartbreaking. This is after all Eponine’s death scene. Marius is devastated  in this duet, but he does the right thing by being there for her. It allows her to be happy for once in her life. It is packed full of emotions. It really shows just much Marius really cared for her. It shows just how compassionate he really is. Even though he is breaking, he stays brave for her. There is just something about this song that touches me in such a beautiful way. This just happens to be my favorite death scene in the entire musical. This is once again another song that can be portrayed in several different ways- for instance, Marius can show his grief and compassion and Eponine can express her emotions, pain, and dying in various ways.

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3. One Day More- this song just had to be there. Just the perfect act I one closer: do I have to say more?

4. Do You Hear the People Sing- another perfect ensemble song. It perfectly expresses the students’ passion for the uprising. You can feel their fire, their passion, and it makes you root for them even if you know what is to happen in the end.

5. Epilogue- This includes both a death and a reprise of Do You the Hear the People Sing making it show both the tragedy and the spirituality of the show. Valjean is dying, but like with most characters, he doesn’t die alone. Cosette and Marius arrive so he gets to die with Cosette, his adopted daughter, and Marius, his now son-in-law by his side. So during that death, you are feeling very heartbroken, but once that reprise happens, you start feeling this sense of hope. I feel like this version of Do You Hear the People represents heaven. This shows how Les Mis perfectly mixes tragedy with elements of spirituality. Perfect ending to such a heartbreaking musical.

6. Empty Chairs At Empty Tables- of all the characters who don’t die, Marius is my favorite character. That is part of why this song is in my top ten. It shows all the trauma Marius faced at the barricade. He had to witness the death of Eponine and later all of his friends got killed. This song is extremely devastating: I even think it is even more devastating than On My Own. It reminds you of everything that happened at the barricade.

7. Drink With Me- What I love about this song is the intimate feeling found between all the students. It doesn’t seem that sad the first time you watch Les Mis. But once you know the fate of the uprising, it gets heartbreaking. This is when you really see how much they really care about each other. When you know this is really the last moment they will be with each other, it really hurts. You are faced with the reality that all of the students, but Marius, will die if you know what is going to happen.

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8. Bring Him Home- even this song does the same thing that Drink With Me does. Once you know what is going to happen, it affects this song. Valjean is singing this song hoping Marius will survive. It is just a very beautiful song that is a prayer and shows the importance of God in the musical. It reminds me of the reality that Marius will be the only one to make it out alive. That really hurts.

9. I Dreamed a Dream- Yes, I was going to include this song. Once again; another heartbreaking song. It is hard listening to this song; it hurts me much more in the movie than the stage show due to placement. It shows how Fantine got caught up in the situation she is in. Sad reality she has to put up with.

10. A Heart Full of Love- this song has a incredible brilliance behind it. It is mostly this romantic duet between Marius and Cosette so I am literally feeling so happy for the two of them. But just out of nowhere, Eponine starts singing. Than I have no idea what on earth to feel: I am still feeling happy for Marius and Cosette but then I am feeling heartbroken for Eponine- it becomes this jumble-load of emotions being thrown at me.

 

Literally about all the songs I put are heartbreaking songs. That is the reality that is Les Mis. About every single song is a heartbreaking song; there is only about two or so songs that give you a breather. One of the unique things about the Les Mis songs is that are just multiple ways to portray the songs.

I couldn’t literally pick just my top ten; just picked ten for now; but some will always be there no matter what. One of the Look Downs, Red and Black and some others could have been on this list. It is nearly impossible to pick my top ten Les Mis songs.

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Who is Javert?

Javert is one of the most complex antagonists. One of the most complex protagonist/antagonist dynamics is Jean Valjean and Javert.

Major Spoilers:

Javert was born inside a jail. He is a policeman who strictly follows the law. He has the motto of “once a criminal always a criminal”. He does not think any person can possibly change. That is how he feels like Jean Valjean. Once Valjean breaks parole, Javert feels like he must bring Valjean back to prison. He just does not realize that Valjean is trying to become a better person.

Not only is Javert struggling with his idea of criminals, he also is struggling with mercy and forgiveness. He does not know how to show mercy to others. You first see this through Fantine. All Javert sees is that Fantine is a prostitute not a prostitute with a child. Javert should have arrested this man not Fantine, who attacked him in self-defense. So mercy is just something that Javert does not know how to show.

In “Stars”, Javert lays than his beliefs and principles. Javert makes you know that he wants to capture Valjean. In many ways, the law is his religion. Javert strictly follows it so much.

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He came to the barricade to spy on the students, but Gavroche caught. Well, Javert was surprised that Jean Valjean let him go. That changed the way that Javert believed all of his different beliefs. Even though, he was given an incredible act of mercy, for some reason, he was not able to receive it. He was in a middle of a inner turmoil- he released that Valjean has become a better person- Javert realized that his motto of “once a criminal always a criminal” is not exactly sure. Javert felt like he had no purpose so he killed himself in the end.

What Makes Javert and Valjean Opposites?

For Western Civilization II, my hardest class this semester, we had the choice of two optional papers, which gives us a better chance of passing. I struggled with coming up with an idea for the first paper and I got help from the teacher and he saw that I was having a hard time with it. When I told him I  wanted to focus the next paper on Romanticism, a topic I was strongly familiar with due to loving Charles Dickens and Victor Hugo. I decided to talk about how the Enlightenment thinkers and the Romantics view imperfection differently. My teacher decided to let me combine both papers into one, which means I was required to write more, which would be around 2400 words.

I had a Les Misérables section. I kept on seeing references that Javert and Valjean were opposites and I never understood why. My paper brought up how one of these characters  show how the Enlightenments thinkers were flawed in their thinking and how Romantic thinkers look at imperfection. This paper finally made me start to understand why the two are opposites.

Possible Spoilers Ahead: 

In Victor Hugo’s, Les Misérables, he used the contrasting characters of Javert and Jean Valjean to show how the Enlightenment is flawed and how emotions and imperfections are important. These two characters are opposites, and each want to do what is right, but they have different ideas of what that means.

Javert is the antagonist of Les Misérables, and he is a product of the Enlightenment. He has a belief that “once a criminal always a criminal”, and he sees the world in black and white and right and wrong. He does not understand forgiveness, love, compassion or mercy. When Fantine attacks a man in self-defense, Javert plans to arrest her even though she pleads for mercy. After telling him she has a child, he shows no mercy or compassion and sees her as just a prostitute who has broken the law. Also he cannot forgive Jean Valjean even though he has become a better person, nor can he accept Valjean’s forgiveness of him. His ideal of perfection is so extreme that he eventually commits suicide rather than accept human imperfection and celebrate life’s emotions.

Jean Valjean is the protagonist and is in contrast with Javert. He is an ex -convict, who stole to feed his family, and he was unfairly sentenced for nineteen years. While he did break the law, he was harshly judged by an unforgiving society, and being in prison led Valjean to be filled with hate and anger. But when Valjean stole the bishop’s silverware, the bishop said to Valjean, “do not forget, never forget that you have promised to become an honest man” and  “Jean Valjean my brother, you no longer belong to evil, but to good. It is your soul that I buy from you; I withdrew it from black thoughts and the spirit of perdition, and I give it to God” (Hugo, “Les Misérables”, 99). After the bishop’s actions, Valjean learned how to show compassion and love to others. He ended up showing compassion to Fantine by preventing her from being arrested and agreeing to raise her child as she was dying. Both the bishop and Valjean showed compassion by accepting those with imperfections, and they are willing to let emotions rule their actions. As a result, they expressed a better sense of humanity than Javert.

My Favorite Javert Actor

Now, I am talking about my favorite Javert actor. I always struggle with finding common ground for Javert. I also struggle with feeling any sympathy for the character. Javert is a character I don’t like. Yes he is complex and an interesting character to get to know, but I still don’t like him.

Possible Spoilers:

My favorite Javert is Jeremy Secomb and I saw him in the West End. For the first time, I was able to finally find common ground and feel sympathy for Javert. His Jean Valjean was Adam Bayjou (understudy), one of my favorite Jean Valjean’s, and those two worked well together that I have found the strongest Javert/Jean Valjean dynamic I have ever found. I remember during the suicide scene, feeling Javert’s torment and feeling some kind of sympathy for Javert. When I saw the show in the West End, I did not expect to feel anything for Javert or to find common ground, but Jeremy exceeded expectations. The fact that I could find common ground and feeling sympathy for a character that I don’t like says something about Jeremy’s Javert.

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Wrap-Up of Top Three Actor/Actresses in Les Mis

The past couple of days I have talked about my top three actors and actresses that I have seen in Les Mis.

It was an interesting series. It really showed just how differently these actors and actresses portray these characters. I was able to explore much more of some of these actors and see what they brought to the role. The fact that these actors and actresses come from more than one cast does show how talented they are. I loved how I was able to mention understudies because it shows that they have a lot of talent and those understudies were Adam Bayjou (Jean Valjean) and Talia Simone Robinson (Eponine). It was interesting who I decided to pick and I ended up with. It was interesting that every single character used my  principal cast on my West End and Greeville. I did not realize that when I first started the series, I would love it as much as I did.

My favorite of each character: not will have one since I can’t decide

Jean Valjean: Can’t pick at the moment

Javert: Jeremy Secomb- only Javert I could feel any kind of sympathy for the character so that is a plus to his Javert.

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Fantine: Can’t decide

Cosette: Jillian Butler- she has a beautiful soprano voice and works perfectly with Joshua Grosso to form a quite adorable couple.

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Marius: Joshua Grosso- he brought out this unique awkwardness that I never saw in Marius. I never knew Marius to be awkward until I saw Joshua. He just really shines as Marius in so many ways.

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Eponine: Samantha Barks- She was able to bring out the heartbreak found in unrequited love and  was able to show just how lonely and alone Eponine is and because she was my first one, she is my favorite Eponine.

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Thenardiers: Phil Daniels and Katy Secombe- they were able to be very funny while at the same time show their darker side.

Enjolras: Can’t decide

 

Top Three Javert Actors

Next top three I am doing is for Javert. This is a very odd top three in some way.

Criteria is as follows:

  1. These are only opinions. I am not necessarily going to talk about actors that people are familiar with. You do not have to agree with all my choices since they are just opinions
  2. Not going to leave out understudies. I am not going to leave off an understudy just because they are an understudy. Going to include them if they are good enough to be in the top three.
  3. Based off of different things such as their voice, how they might say a certain word, how well the emotions are portrayed, dynamics, among other things

Jeremy Secomb:

Out of all Javerts I have seen, Jeremy Secomb is my favorite. Before I went to the West End, I always struggled with finding common ground with Javert and even feeling any sort of sympathy or empathy for this character. Javert is also a character I don’t like. I know Javert isn’t a villain, but the antagonist.

So Jeremy was able to find a way to make me finally feel something for Javert. It was during “Javert’s Suicide” and I remember before the song started, already feeling Javert’s turmoil and conflict. I finally was able to feel some kind of sympathy for Javert. I never saw that coming. Not only did Jeremy have the right voice for Javert, but was able to find a way to make me care a little about Javert and that is the biggest reason why Jeremy Secomb is my favorite Javert.

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Josh Davis:

This was odd. The only thing I was able to appreciate about Josh Davis’ performance was his voice. He had the right voice for Javert and he did do a fine version of “Stars”. He wasn’t able to make me feel for Javert in the same way that Jeremy did. For whatever reason, Josh wasn’t able to find common ground and made me feel sympathy for Javert. But for the sakes of this series, he would be in my top three.

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Norm Lewis:

I saw him in the 25th anniversary concert. He definitely had the right voice for Javert, but he did struggle in the same way that Josh did. But he still is in my top three for now.

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I don’t know what it is, but I struggle for Javert for some reason. So of all these, Jeremy was the only one who made me feel some kind of sympathy for Javert. The other two are just in my top three for now. So this one was a bit odd to put down my top three due to the problems I tend to have with actors I see as Javert.

 

 

Les Mis Milestone

Even though I first saw the movie of Les Mis six years ago in December, my journey of it really began about March of 2013. I said that because after that movie I really did not know if I liked that musical or not due to being shocked and confused that it was a tragedy, but despite the confusion, I still started researching. However, my love for the show really kicked off five years ago when I gave the movie a second chance.

Ever since the movie, the musical has come a long way. I still continue to watch the movie till this day and still not sick and tired of it. My first portrayals of all these characters come from the movie. The 2nd time I was able to calm down and not be shocked by it being a tragedy. My understanding of the emotions in Les Mis and my understanding of the characters has deepened over these five years. One of the things I remembered about the second time was that it was when I fell in love with Eponine due to Samantha Barks portrayal. She would become my favorite Eponine. When I found out, she played Eponine in the 25th anniversary concert, I decided to watch that concert.

Not only did this movie make me fall in love with Eponine, but it also made me fall in love with some of the other characters. After all, this was my first full experience with Les Mis. It was where I believe I fell in love with Jean Valjean, Enjolras, Gavroche and the students and Fantine. I started to fall in love with Fantine due to Anne Hathaway’s devastating portrayal of Fantine. It was where I began to appreciate Marius, I think. I have watched this movie over 50 or so times I think: it feels like so much more. I still get emotional watching this movie and that is part of why the songs are so brilliant and why I am not yet sick and tired of Les Mis.

Ever since the movie, I have researched the musical a lot. My love for Les Mis eventually turned my love for musicals into a passion. I am currently obsessed with the musical. I first saw the stage show in 2013, which was a community college production. I ushered twice for that production and saw it once with my family. It may have been a community college production, but it felt professional. My dream of seeing Les Mis in the West End was created all because of seeing the stage show for the first time.

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It was December of 2013 when I finally decided to watch the 25th anniversary concert. Like I said earlier, I watched this concert because Samantha Barks, my favorite Eponine, played Eponine in this concert. Alfie Boe ended up blowing me away as Jean Valjean and he became one of my favorite Jean Valjeans’ and at this point he was my favorite Jean Valjean. Like expected, Samantha Barks was wonderful in this concert. Ramin Karimloo would be such a passionate Enjolras. So I also own this concert so my Les Mis collection keeps on growing. This concert is worth watching due to an incredible cast. Plus, it has the Valjean quartet at the end, “One Day More” sung by the original cast, and students singing the reprise of “Do You Hear the People Sing”.

My dream of seeing Les Mis in the West End came true soon after developing my dream for wanting to see it in London. My family was going up to England in 2015 to go on a pilgrimage with our church. The choir was going to be in residence at Bristol Cathedral and that pilgrimage started in London. So in 2015, my family went up two days early, which I found out in 2014. That was when I started convincing my parents to take me to see Les Mis in London. I remember in June sitting in my room and my mom texted me emojis of the French flag and musical notes and I do not know what she was talking about. She told me to check my email. When I found out I was going to be seeing Les Mis in London, I ran up to my mom and started crying. My dream was going to come true and that day was July 30th, 2015.

I remember on July 30th, it took a while to find the theatre. When I saw the theatre, it didn’t seem real that I was going to see Les Mis. Even when I bought souvenirs and the most surprising thing about the UK is that I had to buy my playbill. Back in the US, the playbills were handed at the door, but this time I had to buy my playbill. On the way to the auditorium, I found a sign that said I had an understudy for Valjean and that was going to be Adam Bayjou. It was crazy because I was in London fulfilling my dream, but yet was going to be an understudy for Jean Valjean.

I remember hearing the first notes of the orchestra, which were so powerful, and realizing this dream was becoming reality just by hearing those notes, I know the production was going to much more than expected. Not only did the cast including the ensemble were brilliant, but the staging was as well. The revolve helped with time change. I loved seeing the building of the barricade along with several other barricade scenes such as it turning when Gavroche climbed over or it turning after the final battle and you could see all the dead bodies on it and singing a light on Enjolras.

But Adam Bayjou was going to turn out to be one of the best Valjean’s I ever saw. I remember sitting in my seat and looking at the set and realizing how close I was to the stage. My mom wanted to make sure I got the best possible seats. So we were nine rows back from the stage. My other actors were Jeremy Secomb as Javert, Rachelle Ann Go as Fantine, Zoe Doano as Cosette, Rob Houchen as Marius, Carrie Hope Fletcher as Eponine, Phil Daniels as Monsieur Thenardier, Katy Secombe as Madame Thenadier and Bradley Jaden as Enjolras.

Back to Adam Bayjou. His version of Jean Valjean made me forget I was watching an understudy. Jeremy Secomb would make me actually connect to Javert and that during his suicide scenes and that really was strong talent because I don’t like Javert. This was the strongest Javert and Jean Valjean  dynamic I have ever seen. Even the love triangle had such a strong dynamic. When Marius first bumped into Cosette with Eponine watching them, that was played so well that I was feeling so many emotions and the same happened during “A Heart Full of Love”. I was shocked to feel anger during “On My Own”, but eventually realized it does fit and due to that new emotion, I got new insight into Eponine.

This cast was quite brilliant, epic and passionate. I can’t describe the talent I found in this cast that well. That same summer I read the unabridged book, which did have an effect on the West End production. The book may have been a brick, but it made me appreciate the musical even more. After the production ended, I stood up right away and usually that doesn’t happen whenever I see a musical. Usually I wait until I see my favorite actor, but this time I stood up right away, but this time I stood up right away which really goes to show just how talented this cast is. This cast will always be special because of my dream to see Les Mis in the West End. After the show, I actually went to stage and met Adam Bayjou and he signed my playbill.

Below is a review from seeing Les Mis in the West End. I wrote this view a couple months after seeing it in London so it may not be fully accurate, but still is quite close.

https://megsdailymusings.wordpress.com/2015/12/23/i-dreamed-a-dream/

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The picture above is from my 2nd Les Mis party. One of my mom’s friends is a big Les Mis fan and she decided to have a Les Mis party due to my love for it. The first year, the party was a surprise and my mom tricked me by telling me to wear my Les Mis shirt which says “Keep Calm and Talk about Les Mis”. After all, this shirt was a shirt my friends made me for one of my birthdays. My mom told me that her friend wanted to watch the movie of Les Mis. But it would turn out to be party so I was dressed as just a fan. With Karaoke, I sang “On My Own” and I was called Eponine for the rest of the night.

The next year 2017, since I knew about the Les Mis party, I was able to dress up as one of the characters, and I decided to dress up as Eponine. I found all of these pieces in just one trip to Goodwill. The makeup, which I used as dirt, came from the makeup kit I bought for Stage Makeup, a class I took in Fall 2016. It was the shadow from the kit and it was brown and was perfect to finish the Eponine look. In order to look like her, I had to get myself “dirty” since she was a girl living in poverty. I was still young enough to dress like her and she become one of my favorite characters from the musical.

Below is my link

https://megsdailymusings.wordpress.com/2017/05/21/les-mis-party-2017/

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The picture above is from my 5th time I saw Les Mis. I had a choice last year to see it in Greenville with my school or in Charlotte with my mom. It would be my fifth time seeing the stage show, but my 1st time seeing it on tour. I wanted to know how different the 25th anniversary production was from the version I saw in London. Once again, I would have an understudy, but this time it was for Eponine and that was Talia Simone Robinson. I was much further back from the stage since I was seeing from the balcony, but I got to see everything. The Peace Center is such a wonderful place to watch musicals in the United States. The standouts of this production were Nick Cartell as Jean Valjean, Joshua Grosso as Marius and Matt Shingledecker as Enjolras. The other principal characters were Josh Davis as Javert, Mellissa Mitchell as Fantine, Jillian Butler as Cosette, J. Anthony Crane as Monsieur Thenardier and Allison Guinn as Madame Thenardier. By seeing Les Mis in the balcony, I was able to pick up on how well these actors could project their voices, and I could hear everything even when they were quiet.

Even though I missed the revolve, this staging was wonderful. They used Victor Hugo’s paintings in the background but the problem was they never put up the years for the different time changes. Using the paintings put a bit more color in the set. At times the paintings would be moving. You could tell the vast size of Paris. You would be watching a part of a scene and than the set opens up, and that effect makes you get a feeling of how big Paris is.

About my standouts, Joshua Grosso stood out due to the awkwardness he brought to Marius, which made me love Marius more, and he matched perfectly to Jillian Butler’s Cosette. He even portrayed “Empty Chairs At Empty Tables” in a heartbreaking way. At the end of “A Little Fall of Rain”, Joshua said the last word in a heartbreaking way and waited about five or ten seconds until he said it as if he was stunned that Eponine died. With Nick Cartell, his “Bring Him Home” was so soulful and was quiet enough and strong enough for what the scene required. Considering the fact I was an emotional wreck watching Les Mis a 5th time, it shows that I still have a wonderful emotional connection to Les Mis and that I am not yet done with seeing the stage show of Les Mis.

If you want more about my experience with this production, below is a link to that post.

https://megsdailymusings.wordpress.com/2017/11/06/review-of-les-mis/

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Above is a picture from Halloween. I may have dressed up as Eponine for 2017’s Les Mis party, but because I had all the pieces, I decided to be Eponine for Halloween. This time I made myself “dirtier” than I did for for the party. I started getting into costume around three and stayed dressed as Eponine until after 9:00. I literally went to dinner dressed as her and went to the Gathering, my school’s student-led worship service, dressed as Eponine. Several people had no idea who I was so I had to explain. After the Gathering, there was a bonfire and I went to that. It was a bit cold, but I went around school dressed as Eponine without a coat to truly look like the character. Eponine is a girl living in extreme poverty so I had to show that, which was shown through the “dirt” and not wearing a coat.

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Above is a bear from this year’s Candy and Critter’s event. I never named a stuffed animal after a musical character. When I looked at the different stuffed animals to make, I came across this bear, and it reminded me of Eponine. It had the right color scheme and it had heart-shaped patches with stitches around the outside. Eponine tends to wear costumes with a brown color-scheme. Those heart patches with the stitches around the outside reminded me of a broken heart.

Below is a link about the day I made Eponine. It is quite special having a stuffed animal named after a favorite musical character.

https://megsdailymusings.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/candy-and-critters/

Below is a link explaining my entire Les Mis collection.

https://megsdailymusings.wordpress.com/2018/02/16/les-mis-collection-part-three/

As this post shows, I have gone on quite a journey with Les Mis. Les Mis is a show that changed the way I view musicals forever. It taught me that tragic musicals exist and that tragedies go beyond their tragic side. Les Mis for example has a beautiful underlying spirituality with themes such as compassion, forgiveness, love, hope, humanity, sacrifice and redemption. It was my first introduction to heartbreak in musicals. It would impact many other musicals. I noticed that because of Les Mis, emotions are much easier to pick up on. It may have been five years, but I already know so much about the characters and the storyline. I know about interesting parts about the story such as the mirror images of Eponine and Cosette. I understand why certain things had to happen to make the story work such as why the love triangle is set up the way it is and why so many characters had to die and son on. So this post may be long, but gives a good view of my entire journey with Les Mis. I still cannot believe that I saw the stage show in 2013, 2015, and 2017 because there is a bit of a pattern there. Those years make up 5x seeing the stage show.