Do You Hear the People Sing

We are headed back to France with this musical-more specifically early 19th century. This was an extremely expected musical I was going to included. As many know, I have a massive love for Les Mis. It did challenge and disprove several many things about the world of musicals. The musical was based off of a masterpiece book- Victor Hugo’s Les Misèrables. I think that explains part of why it is such an extradionary musical. It is very difficult to have amazing songs if the plot is terrible, but in Les Mis’ case- the plot is incredible in so many ways.

I need to go back to the beginning explaining my love. In high school, I had told myself, I will NEVER a tragedy, and that was because I thought the genre was pure sad- Les Mis decided to prove me wrong. Actually, I had to watch the film twice before falling in love with Les Mis. After that second watch, the rest is history. I thought tragic musicals did not exist in musicals, I thought I knew the full extent of emotions, and I thought death scenes were unmemorable: boy, would Les Mis challenge a lot of things. Now let, me explain my love for Les Mis.

Songs: Major Spoilers

Usually in a musical, I can easily choose my favorite song. However in Les Mis’ case, I struggle with that. The songs are epic, passionate, powerful, and highly emotional. Those songs can literally hit you like a pile of bricks-I am still an emotional wreck and love that it does that. Before Les Mis, sad was one of the core emotions, but HEARTBREAK was not. I was blind to heartbreak, but so glad I discovered that new emotion- it opened a brand new window: Les Mis is filled with beautiful and powerful heartbreaking songs: some of them are bittersweet. The songs hit you in a way that words alone can’t describe. If I am to describe the songs fully, I don’t think I even could. From the goosebumps to the tears- I have only loved it since 2013. These songs perfectly complement the characters and plot; it works that it is sung-through due to the story and characters.

From the heartbreaking “I Dreamed a Dream” to the hilarious “Master of the House” to the hopeful “Do You Hear the People Sing” to the love song, “A Heart Full of Love” to the empowering and epic “One Day More” to the beautiful and heartbreaking “On my Own” to the bittersweet and touching “A Little Fall of Rain” to the devastating “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”- it has one of the most powerful and memorable soundtracks. Another thing the songs taught me is that a song can happen during a death scene, and that even death can be memorable.

“Come to Me” is Fantine’s death. She is dying of illness, but not alone. She has Valjean by her side promising to take of her daughter, Cosette. During “A Little Fall of Rain”, Eponine is dying in the arms of the man she loves. Finally at the “Epilogue”, Valjean gets to die with Cosette, his adopted daughter and Marius, his now son-in-law by his side.I NEVER realized that death scenes could happen during song-it wasn’t until Les Mis became a part of my life. The “Epilogue” makes you feel both heartbroken and hope- Les Mis is both heartbreaking and inspiring.

Characters-Major Spoilers:

Les Mis has one of the best collection of characters. There is a character that everyone is going to love. I can’t even choose my favorite character.

Jean Valjean (Main Character)- He starts off the show as a harsh, hateful, and angry man. It is amazing to see him change into the compassionate and caring man he becomes. It was through an act of mercy by the bishop that made him start to became a better person. Even Cosette played a part in it. Everything he did made his spiritual journey stronger and made him a better person. It was during “Bring Him Home” when you strongly can see his love for God. He is one of the best protagonists of musical theatre.

Javert (Antagonist)- His main goal in Les Mis is to recapture Valjean. He believes “once a criminal always a criminal”. He sees the world in black and right and wants to do the right thing. He is a policeman and does not show mercy or forgiveness or love. He can’t even accept it when it shown on him. He is one of our most complex antagonists I have seen.

Fantine- She is one of our most tragic characters, and her demise isn’t even her fault. She has a strong unconditional love towards her daughter, Cosette. When Cosette was born, Cosette’s biological father abandoned both of them. Fantine’s dreams are now shattered. She now is a single father left to care for daughter—she ended up leaving her daughter in the hands of The Thenardiers (not knowing how poorly they will treat Cosette). Soon, she finds work in Valjean’s factory, but after hearing about Cosette, she was factory. She was devastated, but had to take desperate measures by selling her locket, hair, and soon herself (as in becoming a prostitute). Eventually she became seriously ill and was rescued by Valjean even though he couldn’t save her life. Valjean promised to raise Cosette. Fantine was a strong character- it usually is at “I Dreamed a Dream” when I start becoming an emotional wreck.

Young Cosette-Yes, we first hear of Cosette through Fantine, but we don’t meet her until after Fantine dies. Well, it turns out Cosette was being abused and treated as a servant. Cosette always has high hopes she will be rescued. She strongly does not like it when she has to water from the woods. Luckily in the woods Valjean finds Cosette and realizes this is the girl he has been looking for. So now, Cosette becomes Valjean’s adopted daughter.

Cosette-Now, we have a teenage Cosette. Her life has improved now that she has a better father. Valjean loves Cosette. They live a very sheltered and protective life- part of it is due to Valjean being a ex-convict. One day in the streets, Cosette sees Marius and they fall in love. Cosette does want to know more about her past and wants to actually meet Marius in person.

Marius- He is one of the student revolutionaries and is close friends to Enjolras. He is kind, sweet, compassionate, brave, and awkward. He is not just close friends to Enjolras, but to Eponine as well. He struggles between his passion for the uprising and his love for Cosette. He actually is more complex than he seems.

Eponine- While we first meet her as a child, we truly meet her as a teenager. She was raised around criminals her entire life. She became the neglected, abused, and unloved teenager. No one showed her kindness- until she met someone who did. She met Marius that day- Marius ended up becoming the light in her life and he was the only good thing in her life. The kindness he showed her led her to fall in love with him. She was streetwise, strong, brave, and loyal. Her love for Marius is so deep and strong that she would risk everything for Marius no matter the cost.

Enjolras and the Friends of the ABC-What I love the most about them is their passion for the uprising and the bond they share. With Enjolras, he is such a confident and passionate leader; after all, he is the most passionate of the group.

The Thenardiers- Despite being abusive, unloving, despicable, and cruel, I love the laughter they bring

Plot:

Les Mis’ story is so carefully planned out that if you get rid of one tiny detail, the entire story falls flat. It is amazing how a plot can be like that. I can’t even choose my favorite character.

The main storyline is about Valjean’s journey of becoming a better person. He had been in prison 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread: 5 for stealing and 14 for trying to escape. When his time came to leave, he was put on parole forever. He had left as an angry, harsh, and hateful man. However, when an act of mercy was shown by the bishop, he decided he needed to change, but that meant breaking parole. So while Valjean was going on a spiritual journey, Javert was trying to recapture Valjean. There were major dilemmas Valjean had to face: turn himself in when an innocent man was accused of being him, etc…….He helped save lives (Fantine (even though he couldn’t save her life), Cosette, and Marius). By the end, he has truly been redeemed and got to die with Cosette, his adopted daughter, and Marius, his now son-in-law by his side.

Another storyline is the love triangle between Cosette x Marius x Eponine. Cosette and Marius’ relationship helps bring hope to the tragedy. It gives a reason for Valjean to rescue Marius from the barricade. Cosette and Marius are an incredible couple and amazing characters. Cosette represents hope in Les Mis so she needed to fall in love with Marius.

On to Eponine. If Eponine did not have the unrequited love, I don’t think I would have fallen in love with the character. If you think about it, Eponine needed Marius in her life. Her fate made perfect sense. She was able to die in the arms of Marius. It originally was Eponine that sacrificed her life for Marius. If you look at “A Little Fall of Rain”- you can see Marius’ compassion and based on how devastated he is shows Eponine mattered to him: so I love Marius. Also, look at the beginning of act II, he sent Eponine away with that letter- I think he only was trying to protect Eponine. He did not want her to get hurt or killed during the uprising. So, I love Eponine with the unrequited love

The third final main storyline was the uprising. It was based on the actual June Rebellion of 1832. I love those characters- their bond, their passion, and their hope is inspiring despite knowing their fates each time I see Les Mis. Marius is the only student who makes it out alive- first Eponine sacrificed her life for him and ultimately Valjean carried him to safety after he became seriously injured.

At the end, there are only four survivors: The Thenardiers, Marius, and Cosette. I do know who my favorite survivor is, and that is Marius.

So, while Marius and Cosette survive the entire musical, they still have their tragedies. Cosette had a tragic childhood and eventually lost her adopted father. Marius lost all of his friends at the barricades. All they have left at the end is each other. See why the plot is hard to explain: you still can’t get rid of one tiny detail or else the story falls in shambles.

About the plot, I love some the themes of compassion, love, hope, forgiveness, sacrifice, humanity, and redemption. I love the beautiful spirituality found in the plot. Les Mis is truly a very “human” story, and I love that about it. Still, I can’t explain why I love the plot as much as I do. The plot is so amazing that I wouldn’t get rid of a single thing- you need everything in it for the storyline to the story we know: it really is that carefully planned out.

Conclusion:

Even this does not fully explain why I love Les Mis, it does say a lot. Les Mis is where my passion for musicals comes from. I was challenged a lot because the musical entered, and I am so glad it did. I thought I knew the full extent of emotions, but Les Mis showed me a stronger and deeper side to the emotions. Les Mis is why I now want to see two-three musicals a year, and why I am more open to them. Wicked might have sparked my love for musicals, but Les Mis turned that love into a passion. Les Mis did lead four core emotions into five: excitement, love, joy, sad, and “heartbreak”. I am still an emotional wreck watching Les Mis, and I don’t think I will ever be immune to it. I love getting all of the tears watching Les Mis- I don’t want that reaction to stop- that reaction does not happen often, but it defiantly is the trophy of tear-reducing songs.

Characters I Find Impossible to Dislike

Yes, there are characters that some people do not like and some that others dislike. However, haven’t you come across some characters that you find impossible to dislike- that no matter what ALL people will love. I will make mention of those characters.

  1. Enjolras and the Friends of the ABC
  2. Jack Kelly and the Newsies
    • Both of these groups- how can you dislike a band of brothers filled with so much courage and who stand up for what they believe in. That is why BOTH groups are impossible to dislike.
  3. The Genie

Wish I could think of more. It is just ALL I can think of for now.

Favorite Protagonists of Musicals

One of the most crucial elements of a musical is the protagonist (the main character). It is their story that we want to follow along with the various subplots. Who are some of my favorite protagonists?

  1. Elphaba/Glinda
  2. Aladdin
  3. Belle
  4. Simba
  5. Elsa/Anna
  6. Jack Kelly
  7. Christine
  8. Jean Valjean
  9. Annie
  10. Oliver
  11. Harold Hill
  12. Maria- the Sound of Music one

Why do two have two protagonists listed. Frozen and Wicked just happen to have two main characters in them, and I wouldn’t choose one over the other to be the primary protagonist.

Heartbreak in Love for Musicals

Romance is a common theme for musicals. It is a beautiful emotion filled with fragility, vulnerability, and innocence. The innocence comes from the young characters. What happens when a character deals with unrequited love, breakup, and betrayal. The nature of heartbreak enters- that deals with even more emotions: sadness and anger and heartbreak. Of course you are hurt, but the way these characters deal with it vary. What are examples of some of these songs? This time- coming from movies and stage shows.

Major Spoilers

  1. I’m Not That Girl
  2. I’m Not That Girl (Reprise)
  3. On My Own
  4. If I Can’t Love Her
  5. If I Can’t Love Her (Reprise)
  6. Evermore- this is Beast’s version of If I Can’t Love Her from the 2017 Beauty Live Action movie
  7. This Nearly Was Mine
  8. All I Ask of You (Reprise)
  9. As Long as He Needs Me
  10. Somewhere
  11. True Love-I listened to this song before a couple of times, but can’t believe they are cutting it from Frozen. It is a pivotal and important moment for Ann- after Hans confesses he doesn’t love her (so after he betrays Anna). Just by listening to the song alone, I knew the song was heartbreaking and where it happened. Cutting it almost makes it seem as if she wasn’t one of our two protagonists. Hopefully it stays in the Original Broadway Soundtrack.

This is the list of heartbreaking love songs. A lot of young characters. Some are ironic (the ones where things improve) and some are non-ironic (the ones where nothing improves). Heartbreak is just as beautiful as the typical love songs. They just have more emotions and are more likely to drive you to tears.

Loving Couples in Musicals

There are several couples that exist in musicals. Sometimes, the same musical has multiple romances. What exactly makes me fall in love with a couple? It mainly deals with their main song? Sometimes, other things are taken into consideration. What are some of my favorite couples?

  1. Elphaba and Fiyero
  2. Cosette and Marius
  3. Christine and Raoul
  4. Jasmine and Aladdin
  5. Nala and Simba
  6. Belle and Beast
  7. Katherine and Jack Kelly
  8. Mimi and Roger

You might notice something- these are young couples. That’s right- most couples in musical theatre are young.

Any you can add to the list?

Parental Love- Part II

What is sad to think about is that there are unloving parents. That is shown in musical theatre. The children born to these parents have become some of my favorite characters. These parents tend to not raise their children right or just not like them because they are different.

Minor Spoilers:

Whenever I think of horrible parents in musical theatre, The Thenardiers come to mind first. They are unloving, abusive, and pickpockets. They literally kicked out Gavroche to live on the streets- the funny thing about saying that is the fact the entire family ends up living in extreme poverty. Gavroche and Eponine are two of my favorite musical theatre characters. Eponine did not see any light or kindness until she met Marius-he is her light in her life of darkness. The main thing I love about the Thenardiers is their much-needed comic relief. These two did not even care that both Gavroche and Eponine were killed during the uprising.

Elphaba’s father hated her just because she was born green. Later, when her mother was going to have another child, her father made her eat milk flowers hoping for a normal-colored baby, but that killed her mother and made Nessa come out disabled. So—-her father strongly hates her and Nessa is spoiled just because she isn’t well green. Elphaba happens to be my favorite musical theatre character.

I happen to know of more loving families in musicals than the other way around.

Writing some of this reminds of what happened to Sarge-he was born with an unloving and abusive father despite the fact that his father grow up in a loving family. The abuse he faced lasted from 4-13 and did leave him some emotional scars that he could not handle well, which led him to be the bully he is in Tale of the Cattail Forest.

Unpopular Musical Couples

As musical theatre fans ourselves, we all have unpopular opinions. What does that mean? Well, it has to do with us being in the minority of loving characters, friendships, and couples, etc…… You get the picture. I am going to talk about two of my unpopular musical couple opinions. SPOILERS

Before continuing, they happen to come from two extremely famous musicals- two of the longest running musicals and that are world-wide sensations.

Raoul and Christine

Seriously, why would anyone think that it should be Christine with Phantom? After all, the Phantom is abusive, revengeful, destructive and capable of murder (he literally wanted to kill Raoul if she didn’t choose him)- meaning it would be a very unhealthy relationship. Plus- she never loved Phantom- literally: she was scared of the Phantom.

All I Ask of You- Phantom of the Opera (Raoul and Christine)
Raoul and Christine

Raoul would never hurt Christine. He is this sweet guy and they were childhood sweethearts. Soon, they found each other again in the events of Phantom of the Opera. They are the ones who are in love. Raoul would protect Christine from harm- this is an angelic, beautiful, and healthy relationship.

Marius and Cosette

Their romance in helps bring hope into the tragedy. Cosette is supposed to represent hope and light, which is why she needs to fall in love. The unrequited love in Les Mis, which happens to Eponine, is handled better. What Eponine does is help bring Marius and Cosette together and eventually sacrifice her life for Marius. Marius does love both Eponine and Cosette- in different ways: Eponine as a friend and Cosette romantically.

The switch that happens between Eponine and Cosette (Eponine’s life goes from good to bad and Cosette’s life goes from bad to good) always has intrigued me- another reason why it had to be Marius and Cosette. You strongly can see Marius’ love for Eponine during “A Little Fall of Rain”- yes, it is Eponine’s death, but based on the fact that he is devastated does say that he really did value their friendship. He and Eponine were close friends. Look at the beginning of act II: why do you think he sent her away- he was trying to protect Eponine from being hurt or killed- so for those saying, he did not treat Eponine fairly or saying he wasn’t compassionate; need to look again. Why do you think he asked Eponine why she came back-he was worried for her safety- so when she collapsed, he became aware she was shot and that her wound was fatal. He did not leave her to die alone- he stayed to hold and comfort her despite it being hard on him. Yes, this post is dealing with Marius and Cosette- but it still is important to understand Marius’ relationship to Eponine and Eponine’s love for Marius to further understand why I love Marius and Cosette as a couple.

Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) and Marius (Eddie Redmayne)- Les Mis film
Cosette and Marius

Eponine needed the unrequited love- it worked for her storyline- it was a huge reason for her bravery and strength and she needed someone like Marius in her life. One of Marius’ lines was “her life was cold and dark”- see what I mean: he was the light- unfortunately the only good thing. Look- the way her story ended was perfect- the fact she died in Marius’ arms. The couple had to be Marius and Cosette. Would you have wanted the love triangle any other way or would you have loved Eponine at all if things were different?

Marius and Cosette are perfect for each other- Marius would not have survived the barricade if it wasn’t for Eponine and Valjean. Eponine sacrificed her life for him and Valjean carried him away from the barricade after seeing him injured. Cosette may not be as complex as several characters, but she is this innocent, charitable young woman who wants to know of her past. Marius is a lot more complex than he seems: the brave, sweet, compassionate, and awkward revolutionary.

You first strongly feel the love Marius and Cosette have for each other during “A Heart Full of Love”- even though it was obvious when they first bumped into each other that it was love at first sight, but “A Heart Full of Love” is when they truly got to meet each other for the first. Cosette helped Marius recover from his wounds from the barricade- I believe that does show the love Cosette has for Marius. They are usually said they truly have their happily ever left since they are two survivors- however, that is far from the truth. All Cosette and Marius have left is each other- if you actually think about it. Cosette never knew her mother and at the end lost her adopted father. Marius, on the other hand, faced loads of trauma at the barricade: he lost everyone that meant something to him: first Eponine and later Enjolras and the rest of his friends.

Yes, for Marius and Cosette- I basically brought up the entire love triangle- however it all connects as to why I love Marius and Cosette as a couple. You can’t get rid of one tiny detail in the musical or else it turns to shambles- that is one of the brilliant natures of the show.