Les Misérables Series-Episode 1

What is it like to see Les Misérables without the music? Les Misérables has a six week series, but without music. I was thinking, I don’t know how I can watch Les Misérables without the music. After all, I had been watching Les Misérables with the music for six years now. Then again, I had the book, and when a scene came on that resembled a song, I did not play the song. It was Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables that the musical came from. Yesterday, I watched the first episode- since I only knew the musical film and the stage show, I had no idea what the order of scenes would be and had no idea if I would be affected in the same way the musical affects me.

Major and Minor Spoilers

Right away, I knew how different this series was going to be different. It starts at the end of The Battle of Waterloo- that would mean the first character you would be introduced to would be Thenardier. This episode gives you a backstory to Marius- it was Thenardier that unintentionally saved Marius’ father from the Battler of Waterloo. In the musical, you never saw Waterloo or Marius’ father. You never knew about Marius’ grandfather and the conflict between Marius’ father and his grandfather- that is an important part of Marius’ backstory. You got to see that Marius’ grandfather did not want Marius’ father in Marius’ life.

You got to see that life in the prison was affecting Valjean even deeper. The prison was terrible. You saw them working for more days, and the guards yelling at them. You understood why prison made Valjean a harsh and angry man when he left. The musical only shows a snippet of that- at least in this version, you understood it much much better. When he visits the bishop, he did say to him that he does not believe that love could change a man. He still was angry at society. It has that scene in the book where he stole a coin from a young boy- this is when he realized he truly messed up, and that he needed to change.

Even with Javert, you got to explore more of his backstory. The only thing I learned of his backstory in the musical is that he was born in jail. I did not know anything else. In one scene, Valjean saved a prison guard. Javert questioned him, and he explained to Valjean that he was born in jail, and that his parents were criminals-that now makes sense why Javert believes that “once a criminal always a criminal”. He was born to criminals and in jail. So Javert learned to hate them- now that logic makes sense.

Now with Fantine- like the other characters, backstory. You got to see her when she was truly happy. You saw her before she was abandoned. You got to see her living life and loving Felix, the one who would be Cosette’s biological father. This episode ends with Fantine holding baby Cosette wondering what they are supposed to do now that Felix left them.

Since there was no music, I had no idea how I would react. I cried and got emotional- which is my same reaction in the musical. I had gotten so emotionally connected to Les Misérables- the plot and characters. I feel like next week is going to be harder to watch.

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“One Day More”

As many people know, I am obsessed with Les Mis. I have known about the Masterpiece six part series for a long time. It has aired in the UK leaving audiences in the US waiting until April. It will be Les Misérables, not Les Mis. That means it is a non-musical version. I keep on trying to visualize what Les Misérables will be like without the songs. I am so used to the songs that Les Misérables without songs sounds crazy.

Tomorrow is the beginning of the six part series. It will take place over six weeks. What will it be like without the songs? It still is Les Misérables. It still will have Jean Valjean, Javert, Fantine, Monsieur and Madame Thenardier, Eponine, Marius, Cosete, and Enjolras. I did read the book, and there are a few differences with some of these characters. How will I approach this when it is not the musical?

I believe I will approach it in a similar way that I did with the book. This time, instead of using the musical, I will use the book. It will be looking at the book versions of the characters. You will be seeing more of the backstory of the characters. The backstory wasn’t in the musical with some of the characters. The musical will still help in a way- when I read the book, the musical was extremely helpful in understanding what was going on even when I saw differences. The book made me realize that some of the characters are more complex than I thought they were.

Dream Musical Roles

What if I had the talent in musical theatre. What if I developed the passion in elementary school? What if I thought about training earlier to have the talent? What would my dream musical roles be? What would the ultimate musical role be? Those are interesting questions. I know I don’t have the talent to be on stage. I decided to have a post, and play and say what they would have been. SPOILERS

Elphaba-Ultimate

  • Of all musical theatre characters, Elphaba would have been the ultimate dream role. She is my all-time favorite character in musical theatre. The two of us have things in common while at the same time, the two of us are extremely different. Playing Elphaba would have meant singing a song I am not the biggest fan of- “No Good Deed”. That is the only solo that Elphaba sings that I don’t like that much. I love “I’m Not That Girl”, “Wizard and I”, and “Defying Gravity”. It would have been fun to get her better by being her. She would have been the ultimate dream role.

Eponine

  • I think of any lead character in Les Mis, it would have been Eponine. The thought of wanting to be Eponine sounds scary. It sounds scarier than Elphaba. I would have been feeling heartbreak night after night after night. I don’t know if I would have liked to die- that thought sounds daunting. I know you are acting. She is a strong, courageous, and young girl- she goes through so much- she doesn’t deserve the life she had. She had to deal with a family who wouldn’t love her, extreme poverty, and unrequited love, but at least in the end, she was with Marius. Still, if it was any lead character in Les Mis, it still would be Eponine. My parents believe that Eponine is my favorite character in Les Mis, but just afraid to admit it.

Ensemble of Les Mis

  • I don’t mind being a lead or an ensemble member of Les Mis. If it was a dream role, it wouldn’t matter how I end up in Les Mis.

Anna

  • I know Frozen only came out a year ago, but being Anna would be awesome. I relate to Anna a lot. I relate to her outgoing personality. In addition, I am also the youngest sibling. Frozen is one of my favorite contemporary Disney musicals. I believe part of why I connected to Frozen so much is due to the parallels it has to Wicked. It is coming to my hometown October 2020.

It is hard to think of dream roles when you are not going to be on stage. Thought it would be a fun thing to do.

Les Mis Songs- Choosing a Favorite

Musical theatre fans know that in a musical they have their favorite song. There is an exception to that, and that is in Les Mis. Why do I think that is? I think it is a combination of things: the passion, the epic nature, the powerful nature, and the level of emotion. There is something found in the songs that has made Les Mis last so long in the West End, and had made it keep on touring throughout the World. The songs are key to any great musical- they are the first step- then the characters and plot.

On My Own- this is one of my favorite songs in the musical. It is perfect for Eponine. It is about her unrequited love for Marius while still giving some insight into her life outside of Marius. It perfectly complements her character- it shows just how strong of a character she is. It also shows how strong and deep her love for Marius is. A beautifully heartbreaking song, which can be sung in so many ways- different emotions can be shown each time. This easily can be my favorite song from Les Mis, but the same applies to a number of other songs from Les Mis.

A Little Fall of Rain- this song ends Eponine’s story. She has sacrificed herself after seeing a gun aimed at Marius. This is the most intimate moment Marius and Eponine have. After Eponine collapsed in Marius’ arms, he realized she was dying, and he was devastated. Despite how he felt, he ended up staying with her to the end. A bittersweet scene- you do feel devastated for BOTH Eponine and Marius, but happy for Eponine because she is in the arms of Marius. He is there for her, and is comforting her. You get to see how much compassion Marius is capable of. This is my favorite death scene in Les Mis.

Empty Chairs at Empty Tables- While “On My Own” can easily be my favorite solo, I can’t help but think about how this song can also be that song. Devastatingly heartbreaking-more heartbreaking than “On My Own”. It perfectly complements Marius- the rebellion has ended, and Marius is the only one who comes out alive. He lost all of his friends, and is now dealing with survivor’s guilt. Marius is my favorite survivor in Les Mis, and has become almost a core favorite character.

One Day More- the perfect act I finale. Do I have to say more? This easily could be my favorite song from Les Mis song too. There is no way to describe what you are feeling in this number. It is one of my all-favorite musical theatre finales.

Bring Him Home- This song is another song that can be my favorite song from Les Mis. This further highlights the love Valjean has for God, and shows his love for Cosette in a way. After all, he went to the barricade to protect and save Marius, the revolutionary his adopted daughter loves, from dying. It sounds like a prayer.

Do You Hear the People Sing- This song is a very passionate song. It perfectly shows the passion the students have for the rebellion. It easily gets stuck in your head- it got stuck in my head after seeing the movie the first time.

Drink With Me- The thing I really love about this song is how intimate it is. It shows a vulnerable side to the students. It is sadder than it seems to be- you will understand after seeing it a first time. Once you know what is going to happen to them, the song becomes heartbreaking. This is the last moment they will truly get to spend time with each other. They know this is a last cause, and that they will most likely die, and feel hopeless. At least, they still have their brotherly love for each other, and they still have the passion.

Finale- the perfect finale to a musical. The first half is heartbreaking. Valjean is dying, and he is alone in a church. However, you know he has become a better person, and that he has redeemed himself, become “saint-like”. You might think he will die alone, without anyone by his side. Soon enough, Cosette, his adopted daughter, and Marius, his now son-in-law, come to his side. I think there is some symbolism in the deaths- Fantine, Eponine, Gavroche, Enjolras and the students, and now Valjean will have died with someone with them- have you noticed a pattern with these characters? They know how to love- it doesn’t matter if it is love for a child, love romantically (even if it falls unrequited), or love for a country. After Valjean dies, you are heartbroken, but then a reprise of “Do you Hear the People Sing” starts- you are still heartbroken, but you feel hope- I think the ending represents heaven. You do not leave devastated- you leave the theatre uplifted and with hope.

See what I mean? There is something about each song that makes it hard to choose which is your favorite. Whether that is the bittersweet “A Little Fall of Rain”, the heartbreaking “On My Own”, the devastating “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”, the intimate “Drink With Me”, etc….. So many of the songs have something special about them: you can see the spirituality shine in some of them: “Bring Him Home”, “Come to Me”, “A Little Fall of Rain”, “Finale”, “What Have I Done” are examples of that.

Do you think Les Mis is hard to chose your favorite song, and why? I gave a few examples.

Favorite Musicals and Favorite Songs

All musical theatre fans have their favorite musicals. In each musical, there is usually a song that becomes their favorite. I decided to write a list of some of my favorite musicals and what my favorite song is.

  1. Wicked- Popular
  2. Les Mis- (Do I have to say more); this is an exception where I can’t pick
  3. Sound of Music- Edelweiss
  4. Phantom of the Opera- either Music of the Night or All I Ask of You
  5. Annie- Tomorrow
  6. Newsies- Seize the Day
  7. Beauty and the Beast- Beauty and the Beast
  8. Lion King- Can You Feel the Love Tonight
  9. Rent- Seasons of Love
  10. Music Man- Seventy Six Trombones
  11. South Pacific- Some Enchanted Evening
  12. Pippin- Corner of the Sky
  13. Mamma Mia- Dancing Queen
  14. Man of La Mancha- Impossible Dream
  15. Godspell- We Beseech Thee


Non-Survivors I love in Musicals

What do I mean by the non-survivors? These are the characters who die in musicals. So this will be SPOILER HEAVY. I used to think a character death would be not memorable, but I learned my lesson.

  1. Enjolras and the students
  2. Gavroche
  3. Eponine
  4. Fantine
  5. Jean Valjean
  6. Don Quixote
  7. Angel
  8. Mufasa
  9. Kim

It was Les Mis that taught me that I can love a character death. I love more characters who survive than characters who don’t survive. A lot of that it because I can’t think of more. Death in musicals are not EASY to watch, but you have to understand WHY they had to happen- all of these deaths had to happen. Yes, character death is sad, and you are heartbroken because you loved the character. The only way they will continue to live is in you.

How do you feel about character death?