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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Standouts in Musicals

I never really talked about this. Standouts do exist whenever you see a musical. But what exactly makes certain actors standout more than others. That is very very hard to explain. It always has something to do with their performance: they are the ones that go above and beyond with their performance. They add something unique to their portrayal. Below I will mention some of my standouts in some of the musicals I have recently seen.

Minor and Major Spoilers:

Les Mis ( Tour 2017): Nick Cartell, Matt Shingledecker, Joshua Grosso

Nick Cartell (Jean Valjean)- I know he was one of the standouts, but that is hard to describe. I could tell he was throughout his portrayal. I had seen him previously in the ensemble of Phantom of the Opera. So I loved seeing him go from ensemble to lead. Part of why he stood out is his breathtaking and soulful performance of “Bring Him Home”. It was strong enough, but quiet enough for what the song required. It truly sounded like a prayer.

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Matt Shingledecker (Enjolrass)- Honestly don’t really know why he was a standout at all. But I could just tell he was.

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Joshua Grosso (Marius)- I like to describe his Marius as charming and awkward. I was extremely surprised of how much he stood out. I am always expecting Eponine to be the strongest actor in the love triangle, but in this situation, Joshua was the strongest actor in the love triangle. Much more my focus ended up being on Marius instead of Eponine. That sounds a bit odd in a way considering the fact that of all the characters in the love triangle, Eponine is my favorite character. But it did make me view the love triangle from a different perspective. It is important for me to get to know all three characters.

He embodied Marius perfectly while still bringing something new. I never knew Marius was awkward until Joshua. The awkwardness made me learn to love Marius even more. At “A Heart Full of Love”, he was like “I’m in love, but what on earth do I do with it”. It was really effective. As I was watching “A Little Fall of Rain”, he focused much more on comforting Eponine than showing how heartbroken he was. He showed his heartbreak at the end:  he actually acted stunned: he could not finish the song at first: he waited about 5-10 seconds: that is what I mean by stunned and then the way he said “grow” was hard for me to listen to. He really brought out all of his trauma and heartbreak during “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”. Because of what Joshua was able to do with Marius, he became my favorite Marius.

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Wicked (Tour 2016): Mary Kate Morrissey, Amanda Jane Copper, Ashley Parker Angel

About Wicked, I focus so much on Elphaba, Glinda, and Fiyero that I forget that the others so those three actors always easily standout from the others.

Mary Kate Morrissey (Elphaba): She was an excellent Elphaba. You never would suspect she was a standby. She embodied everything about Elphaba. She made appreciate a song I always hated and emotions in that song finally stuck. She was able to change her voice to match Elphaba’s. From a more innocent voice in most of act I to a more mature voice starting at “Defying Gravity”.

Amanda Jane Copper (Glinda): Here’s my rule about Elphaba and Glinda: you can’t have an excellent Elphaba without an excellent Glinda and vice versa. Amanda Jane Copper was just hilarious and every funny line of Glinda’s I laughed at. You could feel Glinda’s pain act II. You got to “For Good”, and I teared up at their very emotional song.

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Ashley Parker Angel (Fiyero): I was determined to get to the bottom of him this time around so I dug deeper. So the Lion Cub scene hit. He played that scene as if he has a crush on Elphaba, but doesn’t know it. I love how he played Fiyero in that way. He already showed weaker chemistry with Glinda and stronger chemistry with Elphaba foreshadowing the unrequited love shift in act II.

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Pippin (Tour 2015): Lisa Karlin

Lisa Karlin (Leading Player) -I was much more intrigued by the Leading Player’s portrayal than Pippin. She was able to be playful with a tad bit of evil in “Magic to Do”. Around Pippin, she was able to hide her darkness so that Pippin could trust her. So she was very crafty and very manipulative. In songs such as “Glory”, she was so much more dark and evil that you can tell that she was the antagonist of the musical. There is something very intriguing about the character. I may have been new to the show at time, but everyone I know about the character comes from just one actress. Usually I don’t know all of this information from just one actor or actress. This actress seemed to spend a lot of time getting to know her character and make it her own. She also tricked the audience.

Who are Enjolras and the Students?

One of the best sub-plots of Les Mis is the uprising.

Major Spoilers:

Enjolras is the leader of the students. He is the most passionate about the cause. He is a natural leader and is the most hopeful, which makes his death on the barricades the most heartbreaking out of all the students the most heartbreaking.

About all the students, they have this brotherly love for each other and are basically this one family. They are standing up against a weak government and are passionate no matter what. Prior to the uprising, they try to rally up support on the streets. They show their passion so strongly. They are wanted several times to just give up if they want to  live, but that doesn’t stop them. It is amazing just how passionate they are. I love how they take in Gavroche. Even when they know they are going to lose and die, they still stand up and fight. All of them, except for Marius, lose their lives at the barricade, but at least they die standing up for what they believe in.

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Who is Cosette?

Les Mis is home to several musical characters. Cosette is another one of them. I already talked about Marius and Eponine, two of the third wings of the love triangle. Cosette is the final wing of the youthful love triangle.

Cosette is the adopted daughter of Jean Valjean. What is important to note is that Cosette was horribly abused as a child by the Thenardiers. Cosette was rescued by Jean Valjean after he promised to raise Cosette as his own. Cosette finally received some love and raising Cosette was not easy on Valjean. Yes, Cosette was over-sheltered and over-protected, but do you blame him: he is an ex-convict on the run.

Where does Cosette fit into the love triangle? She falls in love with Marius. I love how she represents hope and light. By the end of Les Mis, she loses her father, but at least she still has Marius. She is an innocent teenager, but she there is more to her than it seems. I used to think she was super boring, but she really isn’t. She really wants to know more about her past and her adopted father’s past as well.

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Who is Eponine?

Back to Les Mis: One of my all-time favorite musical characters is Eponine. She is an interesting character in many ways.

Major Spoilers:

She is the daughter of Monsieur and Madame Thenardier, who appear to love her as a child. However, as a child, you already get an idea of the environment she is going to be growing up in. You see that they are abusive through how they treat Young Cosette and you see them pickpocket their customers so you already get an idea.

Later, Eponine’s life becomes even worse. She is now living in extreme poverty and is more involved in her parent’s schemes. You see just how alone she is in life. She hasn’t been shown much kindness. She is streetwise due to the crimes she has committed with her family. She is so alone in life and you realize that her parents do not love her and just use her for their advantage.  Despite all of this, she still has a spark of goodness in her, and you see this through her love for Marius.

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Eponine can see the kindness in Marius, and that shows that she still has a spark of goodness in her. All because of the kindness he shows her, she falls in love with him. He is all she has in life, and he bring her joy. The sad truth is he does not realize she loves him, and he later falls in love with Cosette. However, none of that stops her from being in love with him. Her love for him is extremely deep and strong that she will do anything for him. She agrees to find Cosette for him even though it breaks her. She stands up to her father when he is about to rob Valjean’s house and that is done out of love for Marius.

She risks her life several times for Marius even if it breaks her even if it means losing him forever. She makes the choice to go to the barricade. Her love for Marius leads her to sacrifice her life for him when he is about to get shot. Her love for Marius is her greatest strength even if it leads to her death. Her death is the happiest moment of her life because Marius is there for her in that moment holding her and comforting her despite all the pain. Even though she is a Thenardier, she still has that spark of that goodness found within her.

Who is Marius?

Next character on this series is from Les Mis.

Major Spoilers:

Marius is more complex than it appears. What people may not know is that he has a political conflict going on go on with his grandfather. He left his grandfather to live a life of poverty. He is this complex, young and awkward revolutionary, who is part of the students of the ABC. He is good friends with Eponine, but is oblivious to her love for him. He is sweet and kind and you can see that through his friendship with Eponine and his love for Cosette and his friendship with the revolutionaries.

He is part of of a youthful love triangle between Eponine and Cosette. He is in love with Cosette and asks Eponine to find Cosette for him and she does. He constantly is naive to her feelings for him, but he still is good to her. Marius and Cosette are quite an adorable couple. They bring hope to this tragic tale and they are perfect for each other in many ways. Marius is capable of a lot of bravery of compassion.

In act II, you get to see just how much bravery and compassion Marius is capable of. It is the barricade scenes. Marius decides to fight with his friends, and that takes a lot of courage. When he first notices Eponine, he sends her away with a letter to Cosette. He sent her away in hopes to protect her because he cares about her and did not want her getting hurt or worse killed.

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Unfortunately Eponine does come back to the barricade. She shields Marius from a bullet heading straight towards him. Marius does not realize at first that she got shot, but when he does, he is devastated. You see in that moment that he is quite upset, and that shows that he did care about her. He decides to show compassion by being with her and comforting till she dies. So Marius is capable of loads of compassion. Even though he was breaking, he was still brave for Eponine and never left her side in that moment.

Marius is a survivor because he almost died but was saved by Jean Valjean. He deals with survivor’s guilt wishing he had died with his friends. He does not understand why he survived and why all his friends died. He does not know who his savior is. All he has left is Cosette and it is love for Cosette that brings hope. He has to deal with a lot of trauma because all of his friends died and now all he has left is Cosette.

I feel like Marius is under-apppreciated. He is a kind, sweet, and compassionate young man. I love that about him and I also love his awkwardness. He cares about Eponine, and I can understand why he is oblivious to her love for him. He just has a lot going on because he has a political conflict going on with his grandfather, is a revolutionary, and let’s remember on essential fact: Eponine never told him she loves him until her death. I want Cosette and Marius together as they bring hope to this tragic tale. So overall Marius is a complex, awkward, sweet, kind, compassionate, romantic and brave young man.

The Talents of the Actors and Actresses I Have Seen

One thing that really impresses me is seeing the talent I have seen on stage when I have seen musicals. Some of the ones I have seen are understudies and standbys and those can really impress me. I have had understudies for characters such as Eponine, Christine, Jean Valjean, Elphaba, Leading Player and Katherine Plumber. Those actors have to work harder than anyone else. I just cannot believe how talented all of the different actors and actresses I have had over the years. I have seen more actors than actresses mainly because of Newsies. Newsies has a cast of mostly males and that is why I have seen more actors.

Les Mis was the last musical I saw and I loved that cast. You had the very powerful and passionate ensemble with some talented principals. It was lead by Nick Cartell and he was wonderful as Jean Valjean and his “Bring Him Home” was so soulful and truly sounded like a prayer and he quiet enough for what the song required and strong enough for what the song required. Another standout was Joshua Grosso as Marius, and he brought this unique nature of awkwardness to the role and of all of the actors in the love triangle, he was the strongest, and I never expect Marius to be the strongest actor because I always expect Eponnine to be the strongest actor, but this time it wasn’t the case. Jillian Butler’s Cosette somehow was able to connect to Joshua’s charming but awkward Marius. My Eponine, Talia Simone Robinson (understudy), was impressive. The fact that she was an understudy made her work harder than anybody else. She had some impressive scenes and some scenes needed some work. She was very playful around Marius and was quite strong during “A Heart Full of Love”, and she was very believable during “A Little Fall of Rain”.

Matt Shingledecker was my Enjolras, and he truly brought the passion and leader side of Enjolras. Even the ensemble was very talented. They were so epic passionate and powerful. The ensemble is very impressive when it comes to musicals and they are a huge part of a show: after all they take up most of the cast.

During Rent, I was impressed with the actors. Kaleb Wells brought out quite an emotional “One Song Glory” and showed his unwillingness to get into a relationship with Mimi. Lyndie Moe, my Maureen brought out her craziness perfectly and she made me laugh during “Over The Moon”.

Newsies was a musical I saw August 2016. It was lead by Joey Barriero, my Jack Kelly. It is hard to describe why I loved Joey. I loved how he showed his bond to Newsies especially his bond to  Crutchie. He brought out the inner conflict that Jack eventually went through. He was able to bring out the emotion felt in “Santa Fe” and the song to me was innocently sad. I don’t know if the innocence felt in the song was how Joey wanted to portray the song or if it was because this was my first time seeing the show. The actors in this show were triple threats. They were very impressive in the dance. They were flipping about two or three times in a row, dancing on newspapers among other amazing tricks and able to act and sing at the same time. The dancing was mind-blowing. The picture below is Joey Barreiro as Jack.

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Highlighting all of the talented actors will take a while. By showing some of the actors, you can tell that I have seen a lot of talented actors over the years. I still have not yet seen the same actor or actress in more than one  lead role. I am glad that each time I see a musical, I am exposed to new actors. I am always thinking how on earth have they memorized everything and they make it seem easy, but in reality it is not easy. It takes a lot of work and acting it much harder than it seems. They are doing the best they can and when you get an understudy or standby, you can get a bit nervous, but I alway regret it.

For example, Mary Kate Morrisey (standby) as Elphaba embodied everything about Elphaba, but brought something new. It felt like she was the main Elphaba. Another understudy that comes to mind is Adam Bayjou as Jean Valjean. He was my West End Jean Valjean, and he played the role so well that I forgot I was actually watching an understudy. So respect the standbys and understudies. You have no idea how much harder they have to work.