Another look at Marius

Just like Fiyero from Wicked, Marius is more complex than he seems. In addition, the two of them are the romantic male leads of Wicked and Les Mis. Marius is a revolutionary, who is part of a love triangle- Eponine and Cosette take up the other two thirds. Now I will talk a lot more in detail about him. Marius gets a lot of hate from Les Mis fans for the most absurd of reasons- I do not agree with what a number of others say about him.

Major Spoilers:

Marius, in general, is a kind, sweet, romantic, compassionate, awkward, and brave revolutionary- not the jerk everyone claims that he is (the real jerks of musical theatre are the villains). He is close friends to both Enjolras and Eponine. He is a member of the Friends of the ABC, which Enjolras is leader of. Well- I have heard people say he did not treat Eponine fairly- well, I disagree once again. I believe he was a good friend to her: he was kind, and he was someone that she needed in her life- his kindness moved her to fall in love with him: she was never shown kindness growing up. While other people in Eponine’s life were cruel towards her, at least she had Marius even though he only loved her as a friend. He was in love with Cosette- their love brought a lot of hope into Les Mis- they were meant for each other. Yes, he asked Eponine to find Cosette for him, but he never treated her unfairly: even Eponine would say that. He might have been oblivious to Eponine’s love for him- but that does not mean he should have fallen in love with her. The love he had for Eponine was as a friend more than anything.

Marius was struggling between his love for Cosette and his passion for the uprising. At the same time, he had a political conflict going on with his grandfather. All of this combined does make him more complex than he seems on the surface.

You strongly saw Marius’ bravery and compassion in act II. At the beginning of the uprising, he saw Eponine there. He actually was worried about her and for her safety. That is why he sent her away with that letter to Cosette. He was trying to protect her from getting hurt or worse killed from the uprising. Right when Marius saw that Eponine did actually come back to the barricade- he did ask why she came back- that was because he was worried. It was a few moments later when Eponine collapsed in his arms (a few scenes back, she sacrificed herself for him). This totally devastated him once he saw she was shot and noticing how severe it was- he knew he was going to lose her. You realized that she did mean something to him. In this scene- Marius could have left her to die alone- but he didn’t. He stayed there to hold her and comfort her- that is compassion (how can some people not see that). Marius knew she lived a tough life- after she died, he said “her name was Eponine, her life was cold and dark, yet she was unafraid”. Marius was Eponine’s light in her life.

Even after losing Eponine, he still had to fight- so his bravery comes from being a revolutionary. What happens to Marius at the barricades is quite traumatic for him- first he lost Eponine and later Enjolras and the rest of his friends. He is the only survivor- he was only able to come out alive due to Eponine and Jean Valjean- it was Jean Valjean, who ultimately saved his life after being severely injured. Survivor’s guilt happened to him while still being happy with Cosette- those two do not deserve to be hated at all. Cosette took care of Marius while he was recovering from his wounds at the barricades-that does show her love for him. It might seem as if Marius and Cosette have their happily ever after, but they still have their tragedies. Marius only has Cosette at the end- Cosette suffered as a child and lost her adopted father. These two have to be together especially because Cosette represents hope and light- Les Mis is so carefully planned out that if you get rid of one tiny thing, the entire story falls apart.

Of all the survivors in Les Mis, Marius is my favorite character.

Not Expecting Someone to Enter your Life

This is a continuation of yesterday’s post. Yes, it will be connected to another Les Mis character. This time instead of Jean Valjean, our protagonist, it will be Eponine, who is one of the lead characters.

I do not think Eponine was expecting someone like Marius to enter her life. Think about it: she was raised by unloving, abusive, neglectful, and criminal parents. She had a better life as a child- than after Jean Valjean rescued Cosette, her life started to become even worse. Her parents did not care about her or love her. They were only being cruel and abusive towards her and using her for their advantage. She was raised as a thief and criminal- being watchdog for the law. She was not expecting anyone to show kindness or compassion towards her.

MAJOR SPOILERS:

Than Marius entered her life. He ended up showing her kindness. She had never come across someone like him before. He was not treating her poorly. The kindness he was showing her led her to fall in love with him. Yes, the love was unrequited. However, they became close friends. He was the only light and goodness in her life. He was the only good thing in her life. Even when he fell in love with Cosette, he still was an important part of Eponine’s life. The love she had for Marius was deep and strong- Eponine would do anything for Marius. You realize just how strong it was during “On My Own”. She was the reason why Marius and Cosette got together, why her father was not able to rob Valjean’s house, and she would go as far as sacrificing her life for him at the barricade. Literally, at the barricade, Eponine gave her life for Marius.

Marius was devastated when he found that Eponine was dying. However, he did not leave her side. This does show just how compassionate Marius is. This was actually Eponine’s happiest moment of her life: the fact that she ended up dying in Marius’ arms. You have to understand Eponine to fully understand the bittersweet nature of “A Little Fall of Rain”. So Marius is quite important to Eponine’s life.

A New Revolution- 6th

On November 3rd, I saw Les Mis at Ovens Auditorium during the US Tour. As so many know, I am a massive fan of the musical. This cast will consist of some of the actors I saw back when the tour first was launched- only five of the nine actors from last time were part of this particular cast.

Cast:

Jean Valjean: Andrew Maughan (Understudy)

Javert: Josh Davis

Fantine: Mary Kate Moore

Cosette: Jillian Butler

Marius: Joshua Grosso

Eponine: Paige Smallwood

Enjolras: Matt Shingledecker

Monsieur Thenardier: Jimmy Smagula

Madame Thenardier: Allison Guinn

Young Cosette: Mackenzie Mercer

Gavroche: Robbie Crandall

Seats:

The best seats, at Ovens, in my opinion are in the Mezzanine. I got to sit in the Mezzanine. I loved those seats- I got to see everything and hear everything. They were also were part of the center.

Staging:

As this is the new production, I still love it. I love how it adds a little bit more color by using the paintings as the backdrop- those also add a bit more Victor Hugo into the set. I loved how “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” was staged- that was one of my favorite parts of the new production. The new staging really shows the vastness of Paris. My only disappointment though was that when time changed- there was no year on the backdrop- that does help explain things.

Portrayals:

Jean Valjean- I was hoping to get Nick Cartell (a standout from 2017), but ended up with an understudy. Because he was an understudy, I knew I had to respect and appreciate his Valjean. In most cases, that wouldn’t be the case. Usually, when I see Les Mis, my tears start at “I Dreamed a Dream”- but when I saw it, guess what happened- I started crying during “What have I Done”. I started to become an emotional wreck sooner than I expected. So, Valjean’s transformation started to show- I was wondering how would be tackle “Bring Him Home”, the song many Valjean’s look forward to singing the most. I loved his version of “Bring Him Home”. So, Andrew defiantly was able to bring out Valjean’s transformation.

Javert- so, Josh Davis was an actor that stayed with the tour in 2017 and was part of my cast yesterday. I was wondering if he would be better yesterday. I always struggle with Javert. It is hard to find common ground or feel sympathy. I think Josh was a little bit stronger this time around. He defiantly mastered Javert’s voice like last time, and the reason why I said he improved was because I think he had a much stronger “Stars”.

Fantine- I wanted Mary Kate Moore as Fantine. Back in 2017, she was part of my ensemble, and then in 2018, she become Fantine after being the understudy. It is hard to watch any Fantine on stage. Just like I expected- “I Dreamed a Dream” reduced me to tears. Her Fantine was amazing.

Cosette- Jillian Butler was part of my 2017 cast. She has this beautiful soprano voice. She somehow can connect to a charming and awkward Marius. It actually makes those two a more adorable and better couple. I strongly love Jillian and Joshua together as Marius and Cosette.

Marius- I am glad that I saw Joshua Grosso again. In 2017, he was one of my standouts. So seeing him again was such a delight. He was still a charming and awkward Marius- one example was during “A Heart Full of Love”- he literally treated falling in love with Cosette like he had no idea what to do. Once again, during “A Little Fall of Rain”, he focused more on comforting Eponine less than the heartbreak he was feeling. People might think he should show the heartbreak more, but do not forget in that scene, Marius is also supposed to show comfort and compassion to Eponine as well. At the end, the reaction was a bit different- that was because he was interacting with a different Eponine. I did not even know if he was going to end the song- that did tell me was heartbroken over her death. So, I saw all of the same things I loved about Joshua’s Marius in the first place.

Paige Smallwood- While Jillian and Joshua were still Marius and Cosette, I had a different Eponine. I had no idea how just one actress could impact the love triangle. She could affect it in a minor or major way only because I already saw the other two back in 2017. “On My Own”- that song actually made me cry this time around. “A Little Fall of Rain”- so believable and I could easily tell she was getting weaker and dying and that she was dying after getting shot.

Matt Shingledecker- He was a standout from 2017. It was nice getting to see him this time around. So I had two of my three standouts from last time. He still felt like a passionate leader. It can be hard to describe why I love Matt so much.

Allison Guinn/ Jimmy Smagula- I had seen Allison Guinn both in 2017 and this time around. I had no idea what she would be like with Jimmy. I knew I loved her as Madame Thenardier so it was interesting seeing her with a new Thenardier. Like many Thenardiers, they were hilarious. So Allison does work well with Jimmy.

Young Cosette/Gavroche- The children of Les Mis were Mackenzie Mercer and Robbie Crandall. Playing Young Cosette and Gavroche, they had a challenge to do. To be on stage and to be a child in a show like Les Mis is not easy. They still were incredible in their roles.

Some of my Favorite Les Mis lyrics

Well, part of why Les Mis is such a wonderful musical is because of it’s powerful songs. What are some of my favorite lyrics from its songs?

-Even the Darkest Night will End and the Sun Will Raise

-To love Another Person is to See the Face of God

– A Heart full of Love

– A Life About to Start when Tomorrow comes

-Tomorrow we’ll discover what our God in Heaven has in store

– A Little Fall of Rain can Hardly Hurt me Now

– Drink with me to days gone by. Can it be you fear to die? Will the world remember you when you fall? Could it be your death means nothing at all? Is your life just one more lie?

-Bring Him Home. Hear my Prayer.

-etc: there are a lot of beautiful lyrics in Les Mis. That is part of why it is a powerful musical

What do I love about Jean Valjean

I am talking about another principal character in Les Mis.

MAJOR SPOILERS:

In Les Mis, Jean Valjean is the protagonist. In my opinion, he is one of the best main characters in musical theatre. He has one of the best character arcs.

Jean Valjean starts out as a broken man. He ended up in prison by stealing a loaf of bread for his sister and nephews. His sentence ended up being five years, but fourteen more for trying to escape. So, just for stealing a loaf for bread, he was in prison for nineteen years. Prison hardened Valjean into this angry and bitter man. He was quite mad at society when he was released- he ended up more angry at them when he realized society was not treating him fairly just because he was an ex-convict.

Well, one of my favorite scenes in Les Mis is the bishop scene. The bishop may be a minor character, but is a truly significant one. The bishop welcomed Valjean into his home, gave him something to eat, and somewhere to sleep. Despite this kind gesture, Valjean still stole silver from the bishop. After being caught and being returned to the bishop, the bishop actually ended up telling the policemen that he gave the silver as a gift (he added the candlesticks to all the silver he stole). The bishop was able to teach Valjean mercy, grace, forgiveness, and love. The bishop forgave Valjean for stealing all of his silver.

Valjean (Hugh Jackman) and Young Cosette (Isabelle Allen)
Valjean and Young Cosette

During “What have I Done”- you begin to understand who Valjean once was and shows what the bishop taught him. He no longer wanted to be the bitter, harsh, and angry man he once was. When the time advances the first time, you realize that Valjean has defiantly changed. In 1823, he has begun to show compassion towards others. He is the owner of a factory and the mayor of the town- so he defiantly has changed.

Well, after he saw that Fantine, once of his former workers, has been sexually harassed and is about to be sent to jail. He ended up preventing Javert from allowing that to happen- Valjean realized that Fantine is now living on the streets and is now seriously ill. He has shown Fantine a lot of compassion in this particular moment: he wants to help her especially because she has a child.

“Who Am I?” is one of those scenes that has Valjean go through a major dilemma. Either he has to give up being a mayor and owner of the factor or turn himself in to prevent an innocent man from going to jail. A man was wrongly accused of being “Valjean”. In the end, Valjean actually turned himself in even though he still has a promise he has to fulfill.

A lot of compassion seen from Valjean is during “Come to Me”, which is the first death in Les Mis. It is Fantine’s death scene, which is a duet found Fantine and Valjean. Fantine is still worried about her daughter. In this number, Valjean agrees and promises to raise Cosette as his own. In the most unexpected of ways, Valjean has to become an adopted father. Valjean stays with Fantine during this entire moment. Little does Valjean know how much of an impact Cosette would have on his life.

I find it interesting that BOTH Valjean and Cosette were still broken when they found each other. After all, Cosette was currently a slave in the inn of the Thenardiers and Valjean was still broken due to this life in prison. They ended up healing each other. Ever since adopting Cosette, she was the first person fell in love with. Cosette got a better life after living the Thenardiers- Valjean was a good father to her even though it would be difficult. Valjean had to raise Cosette while being an ex-convict. While he would overprotect and shelter Cosette, it would be because he is in danger of being caught by Javert.

In act II, there is a reason why he went to the barricade. He wanted what was best for her. After finding out that she was in love with Marius, he did not want him to die. During “Bring Him Home”, it was sung as a prayer to make sure Marius comes out alive. That song truly does show Valjean’s love for God. After Marius does fall unconscious during the Final Battle, Valjean carries him through the sewers to make sure he makes it out alive. This was all done out of love for Cosette.

Bring Him Home (Nick Cartell)- Jean Valjean
Bring Him Home

At the end of Valjean, he does die: but like most characters is not alone. He does die with both Cosette and Marius (his now son-in-law).

What do I love about Eponine

Eponine is the third and final wing of the love triangle in Les Mis.

Eponine: Major Spoilers

Part of what makes you love a character connects to their backstory. Eponine and Cosette are mirrors of each other. Eponine is one of the Thenardier children. During “Castle on a Cloud”, you discover that The Thenardiers are abusive and during “Master of the House”, you realize that they are in fact pickpockets. So during those two moments, you begin to get a general idea of the environment that Eponine is going to be growing up in. When she is a child, you think she is loved by her family. She also does mistreat Cosette due to following her parent’s lead. Everything changes for Eponine once Valjean rescues Cosette. The Thenardiers begin treating Eponine in the same way they treated Cosette.

Growing up, Eponine was raised to be a thief and criminal. She was forced to be a part of her father’s schemes. She ended up living in extreme poverty. She ended up this abused, neglected, and unloved teenager. She lives a dark and tragic life. She was not shown kindness by anyone except for Marius. She fell in love with Marius because of the kindness he showed her. Where does my love for Eponine fit into any of this?

My love for Eponine comes from her bravery and strength. It also comes from how she responds to her unrequited love. It is a deep and strong love. She will do anything for Marius no matter what. She needed him in her life, or else there wouldn’t be any kind of light in her life. There is a reason why she helped find Cosette for him; why she stood up to her father; why she went to the barricade; and why she sacrificed her life for him;- it all had to do with her love for him. People might see her love for Marius a weakness, but in reality it is her greatest strength. “On My Own” shows just how strong and deep her love for Marius is and that she accepts that Marius will never be hers. Even though she does die in the end, at least Marius was there.

Eponine (Samantha Barks)- "On My Own" from the Les Mis Film
Eponine

What do I love about Marius and Cosette

One of my unpopular opinions in musicals is my love for Marius and Cosette. Not only do I love them as characters, but I also love them as a couple. They help bring hope to Les Mis. Cosette is a symbol of light and hope- which you started to see when she is a child.

MAJOR SPOILERS:

Young Cosette

  • As a child, Cosette was horribly abused by the Thenardiers, who are Eponine and Gavroche’s parents. She was treated a servant. However, she still has a strong spirit and has high hopes she will be rescued. She gets through the day by imagining fantasies that she creates. After promising to raise Cosette after her mother (Fantine) dies, Jean Valjean becomes her adopted father. She now has a loving father, but it is not easy raising Cosette because Valjean is an ex-convict. Both Young Cosette and Valjean help heal each other because they both were broken due to the lives they currently had.
Jean Valjean and Cosette- Hugh Jackman and Isabelle Allen in the 2012 movie
Valjean and Cosette

Cosette- as a teenager

  • This is where the dislike comes from. A lot of fans seem to forget about Young Cosette. The lives of Eponine and Cosette have switched places (Cosette’ life went from bad to good and Eponine’s went from good to worse). Yes, Cosette may not have been developed as many of the other characters, but she still is this symbol of hope and does connect several of the other characters. She is a curious and charitable at this time and demands to know the past of her adopted father and her mother. She has fallen in love with Marius and her love for him helps keep hope alive: there is a reason why he had to survive the rebellion.
Cosette

Marius

Well, Marius gets a lot of hate as well. He has been accused of being a jerk and wish he had ended up with Eponine instead of Cosette and accused of not liking how he treated Eponine- I disagree on all of that. He actually is more complex than he appears. He is this sweet, kind, romantic, and awkward revolutionary. Look- Marius is all Eponine has in life. He is the only person who treated her with kindness: that is why she fell in love with him.

Let’s look at two scenes in act II- at the beginning, I believe he sent Eponine away with the letter to Cosette to try to protect her from the uprising. He did not want her to get hurt or worse killed. That is why he asked why she came back when he saw that she did come back to the barricade. At first, he did not notice she was shot, but when she collapsed, he was worried. When he found her gunshot wound and saw how severe it was, he was devastated. Despite that, he still stayed with her and comforted her till she died- that is compassion and not him being a jerk.

Marius is my favorite survivor in Les Mis. If Marius didn’t survive, Cosette would not have been able to represent the hope she was supposed to. People say she never showed her love to Marius as well as Eponine did. She most certainly did. When he was recovering from the uprising, Cosette took care of him- that is her showing her love towards him. People always say they got their happily ever after- think again. Cosette had a horrible childhood and lost her adopted father. Marius lost all of his friends at the barricade leaving him with survivor’s guilt. All they have left in the end is each other.

Marius (Joshua Grosso)- 25th Anniversary Staging of Empty Chairs at Empty Tables
Marius