Connection Between Les Mis and Stonehenge

I find an connection to Les Mis and Stonehenge in such a special way. But why do they feel connected?

As some may know, I went on a trip to England. The choir at my church was in residence at Bristol Cathedral, which meant that they were going to be singing there. So, the church took the choir and other members on a pilgrimage to places such as Old Sarum, Chepstow Castle, Bath, Stonehenge, Berkeley Castle, and more. The year was 2015 and the pilgrimage began on July 31st. A pilgrimage is very different than a vacation. To me, a pilgrim goes to scared and spiritual places to create a deeper relationship with God and to find more meaning. A tourist on the other hand would just go to a place to explore and not so much to look for the sacredness and spirituality of a specific place.

The paintings below are pictures of Stonehenge and the Finale of Les Mis. They each played a part in that England trip and helped make that trip quite special.

But what does all of this have to do with Les Mis? Les Mis was not part of the pilgrimage, but was part of my trip to England. My parents took my sister and I to England two days early. So in those days, on July 30th, my mom took me to the Queens Theatre to see Les Misérables, a musical I dreamed of seeing in the West End. This was my first time seeing the musical professionally. Les Mis is such a special musical and it directly in a way was a great musical to see the day before a pilgrimage.

The picture below is a picture of me at the stage door with Adam Bayjou, who was my Valjean for the night and he was an understudy and was the best Jean Valjean I ever saw.  I always get nervous when I hear I have an understudy, but this Valjean was honestly so good. As a matter of fact, the entire cast was brilliant and due to finally seeing Les Mis in London, I found a bigger appreciation of a musical that changed the way I view musicals.

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Why would Les Mis be a wonderful musical to see before a pilgrimage? To start things off, Les Mis deals with spiritual themes and is a spiritual journey. Les Mis is a tale of love, hope, sacrifice, forgiveness, compassion, humanity and redemption. The protagonist, Jean Valjean, goes on a spiritual journey when given a second chance at life. Seeing Les Mis in London was the best part of my trip to England.

Due to a pilgrimage being a spiritual journey, Les Mis fits perfectly. So the day after I went on Jean Valjean’s spiritual journey, I went on my own spiritual journey. Stonehenge was a “mountain top moment”. I really felt God’s Holy Spirit at Stonehenge. There was just something about the atmosphere that made Stonehenge so special. The strong wind felt like energy was going through you and felt like it was pulling you into Stonehenge. Stonehenge happened one week after I saw Les Mis in London.

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This is a picture from Windsor Castle. Visiting Windsor Castle was the first part of the pilgrimage. I got to see the changing of the guards. The first time I saw a guard in England was the day we arrived. My original reason for wanting to go to London was just to see a guard and that idea came from a child.

The pictures below are Tintern Abbey (Pictures on the right) and Chepstow Castle (Picture on the left).  At first, I thought Tintern Abbey would be kind of boring in a way. At first, I did not see the sacredness of it, but eventually did. I noticed a white dove nestled in the corner and a dove is symbol of spirituality so I got something out of Tintern Abbey. Tintern Abbey was in Wales.

In total, this pilgrimage consisted of ten church services. We saw Evensong at Westminster, Eucharist at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Evensong at Salisbury Cathedral, and the other services, which consisted of one Eucharist and six Evensongs. Everything combined on this trip including the two extra days all provided something wonderful to this trip. There were the big memories such as Stonehenge and Les Mis and there were other memories, but those two things I did were quite special. As for the church services, my favorite ones were the ones sung by our Church Choir. As each service continued, the choir just got better and better. I actually cried twice during this trip. The first was during Les Mis and the second was at the last Evensong when the Anthem made me tear up. That reaction during that church service really showed just how transforming the England trip was.

The picture below is right in front of the Bristol Cathedral. Hidden throughout Bristol at the time, there were about seventy or so Shaun the Sheep statues as a fundraiser for a children’s hospital. Throughout my stay in Bristol, my family found about twenty one Shaun the Sheep statues.

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The best part of the pilgrimage was not any of the places that we went to, but was something that was created. Obviously Les Mis was the best part of the trip, but the best part of the pilgrimage was the fellowship created by all seventy two pilgrims. The fellowship is what made all the sacred and spiritual places we went to even more special.

Stonehenge in many ways really shows the meaning of a pilgrimage because it really is a place where you can strongly feel God’s Holy Spirit. Les Mis linked directly to the pilgrimage because of its spiritual themes and the fact that like the pilgrimage, it was also a spiritual journey. I honestly could go on and on why both Les Mis and the pilgrimage was as special as they were.

My Special Love of Wicked and Les Mis

My top two favorite musicals are Wicked and Les Mis. Each of them are two very special musicals in my life. I even cannot pick which one is better considering how severely different they are from each other. Wicked is the powerful and emotional story of friendship between Glinda and Elphaba and is filled with spectacle/dance and also a musical comedy. On the other hand, Les Mis is the powerful, heartbreaking, epic, inspirational musical tragedy.

Wicked

Favorite songs: Popular (was my favorite song from the show when I was 12), For Good, Dancing Through Life, What is This Feeling, Wizard and I, As Long as Your’e Mine, I’m Not That Girl 

Favorite character: Elphaba (due to how much I relate to her)

Favorite costume: Elphaba’s act 2 black dress

Favorite cast: January 2016 Touring US Production with Mary Kate Morrissey as Elphaba

Why it’s my favorite: The magic, the fantasy, the dance/spectacle, the vulnerable and special and emotional connection to Elphaba-relate to this character so much, the powerful story of friendship and acceptance

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Les Mis

Favorite songs: On My Own, I Dreamed a Dream, A Little Fall of Rain, Bring Him Home, Look Down (Prologue), Look Down (Paris), Drink With Me, Stars, One Day More, What Have I Done

Favorite characters: Eponine, Jean Valjean, Enjolras, Young Cosette, Gavroche, Barricade Boys, Fantine

Favorite costume: No idea

Favorite cast: Summer 2015 West End Cast with Adam Bayjou as Valjean

Why it’s my favorite: the sheer power and brilliance of the songs, the incredible depth of the storyline and characters, the emotional and strong emotional roller coaster, the way the heartbreaking and inspirational natures interlock together 

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Following your Heart

Wherever you go, take your heart with it

-Unknown

This short quote just has a lot of meaning. There is so much honest truth in this quote. What does it mean? Why it is so important? Why should you follow your dreams and desires? Why should you stay true to yourself?

This questions came to mind when I saw this quote. It is true that we need to live in the moment and just be ourself. You are unique, blessed, and loved by others. What makes you stand out from others? It is important to understand what makes you so unique. It is important to not pretend to be someone your’e not. Everyone has different dreams in life and some take longer to achieve then others. The importance of dreams is that they allow you to thrive and help lead you in the right direction. Whenever you have a dream, do whatever it takes to make that dream a reality.

I am blessed that some of my dreams already came true. My dream of attending Gardner Webb came true last year when I finally transferred. Everyday that dream is no longer a dream, but reality. I love my school and I  know that Gardner Webb does too. Everyone says that I help bring light to Gardner Webb. I have a positive outlook on life and have a strong spirituality. I use my spirituality to thrive and that allows me to survive tests along with challenging assignments. I love Gardner Webb due to the incredible community and everyone feels so lucky that I picked Gardner Webb. I feel like the Lord wanted me to be at Gardner Webb for a reason. This school has challenged me in ways that I was not expecting and taught the importance of being open-minded and doing things outside of your comfort zone. Yes, sometimes it is scary doing things outside of your comfort zone, but sometimes doing things outside of your comfort zone can lead you closer to achieving one of your dreams. I always follow my heart everyday and take my love for life with it. It is important to continue to use your special gifts, which allows you to be the best you can be.

Even my dream of seeing Les Mis in the West End came true. When I found out I was seeing in the West End in June of last year, I was in tears that I finally was able to see it in London. In fact, when we were in London, when I first saw the theatre, I could not believe that I was there. This dream did not feel real at first, but felt real once the show started. All it took was hearing the first couple of notes to know that this dream was reality and that the West End was more then I ever imagined. The cast I saw grabbed me from the beginning to the end. The entire cast was brilliant from the ensemble to the leads. I especially loved the use of the revolve and really loved how the barricades were built. I sometimes wonder why I am obsessed with this musical. I know why I love it so much and I know why it changed musicals forever. It was has one of the most brilliant and memorable scores with one of the most inspirational storylines and some of the most complex and wonderful characters. This show is a wonderful interpretation of the human condition.

If those two dreams came true, I am convinced that other dreams of mine will come true. Some of my dreams will take a really long time to achieve. One of my dreams is to be a writer, but it is not my dream job. I have wonderful story ideas such as Fairy Frogs and a Scavenger Hunt in New York City.

But my ultimate dream job is opening up a Nonprofit, which will benefit those living in poverty and homelessness. I was called to help that particular community and I figured out a way to combine my love for musicals and my love for giving back to those less fortunate then me. I began to wonder if theatre has benefited me a lot,  how much more benefit could theatre give to those living in poverty and homelessness. I began to think about creating a theatre where those living in that community can perform in musicals and plays. My ultimate dream job will be the hardest dream to achieve, but if I take my heart with that dream, then I am fully convinced that it will happen. I have had such a fortunate life and glad that I am willing to give back to the less fortunate.

Following your heart is the best way to stay true to yourself. Don’t let society or anyone else define who you are. Don’t do what society expects from you. Do what you love and do what the Lord expects from you. Just follows your passion and dreams. I have always believed in staying true to myself other then pretending to be someone I am not. Staying true to yourself will allow to thrive during dark and broken times in your life. In those times, just remember that there is hope and that you will climb out of  it and always remember that you will always be loved. It is so easy to be myself and I will never change a thing about myself. I will still grow and change, but I will stay true to what I believe in and what I love. Some of my interests are puzzling to others, but once again I will always love what I love. I will always love musicals and contemporary Christian music the most and I will always enjoy hiking and will always enjoy life. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and He will guide you for the rest of your life.

Reflection of Les Mis

Today is July 30th, which was a special date for me last year. On July 30th of last year, mom took me to the Queen’s Theatre to see Les Mis. That night “I dreamed a dream”. I still have no words to describe how special that night was. Les Mis truly changed my life and sometimes still have no idea why the show moves me as much as it does. Attached to this blog is a review of that night along with my journey of the musical.

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

https://megsdailymusings.wordpress.com/2016/01/26/my-les-mis-journey/

Admire

Tourists and Pilgrims

What is the difference between a tourist and a pilgrim?

In England, I felt like both a tourist and a pilgrim. In my opinion, a tourist is someone who is just going somewhere for fun. I was mainly in England for a pilgrimage because our church choir was in residence at the Bristol Cathedral. For most of the trip, I would be exploring places that were quite foreign to me.

The pilgrimage began on July 31st, but my family arrived two days early in order to get used to the time difference. Those two days are the days I felt much more like a tourist then a pilgrim. All we did the first day was walk around London and I was able to see some of London’s most well-known attractions. They included Big Ben, the London Eye, and WestMinster. We even got to see a guard, which is what originally made me interested in going to London in the first place.

It wasn’t until the second day I started to get something more  out of the trip. It felt like my family truly got to do something. We spent the morning at Platform 9 3/4 quarters at King’s Cross Station. After that, my family headed over to Paddington Station for some exploring.

In fact, the best part of that trip happened the night of July 30th. My mom took me to the West End to see Les Mis, which was a dream come true. That night I only had one understudy for Valjean. The moment the show began, I knew it was more then excepted. The way the opening notes affected me was how I knew that I was in for a treat. Throughout the entire show, I felt a ton of positive and negative emotions. Les Mis is just that kind of musical that gets better each time you see it. It speaks deeply in your soul and heart and there are no words to describe the emotional impact. The show is so heartbreaking, but so inspirational at the same time. The acting was brilliant from the ensemble to the leads. I even got to meet the actor who played Valjean at the Stage Door and he signed a my playbill and mom took a picture.

As far as being a pilgrim goes, they search for something deeper then a tourist. Because most of the trip was a pilgrimage, I knew that I would be going on a spiritual journey. It made perfect sense that I saw Les Mis the day before the pilgrimage began because both are spiritual journeys.

Moments that stand out in the pilgrimage are Windsor Castle, Berkeley Castle, Chepstow Castle, Tintern Abbey, 10 church services at Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral,  and ultimately Bristol Cathedral, and Stonehenge. Stonehenge was the Mountain-Top moment of the pilgrimage. The moment I got there, I could feel the sacredness of that place due to the atmosphere, which had dark clouds circling around it with lots of wind. Seeing services at Bristol Cathedral were the best because it was our church choir singing there. It wasn’t until the final Evensong that I realized just how transforming the trip was.

It was none of the things that we did that was the best part of being a pilgrim. It was the fellowship among the 72 pilgrims had for each other because it added meaning to each of the things that we did. Even today, I can still feel the same fellowship when I am church.

In your opinion, what is the difference between a pilgrim and a tourist?

Below are links that reflect this post

Spirituality of Bristol Pilgrimage

Mirror Characters of Les Mis

“I Dreamed a Dream”

Tourist

Success of Les Mis

What is it about “Les Mis” that makes it the longest running show in the West End and the world? Why do audiences just love it so much? It has been running in the West End since 1985 and it still is there. There is something about the storyline and the songs that drive you in. It is a very inspirational musical even though it is not the happiest of musicals. In order for a show to be successful, you need to have an emotional connection to the material and the songs have to sound like they are part of the same musical.

Being a massive “Les Mis” fan, I understand why it is so successful, but it is hard to explain. Musicals have an amazing ability to connect audiences to the storyline and characters through song. But with “Les Mis”, the show is entirely sung, which shows emotions in a different way. It is a show where there is always something to connect and relate to. Its themes are still relevant to society today which range from unrequited love, humanity, and injustice. There is something that you can always take away from it and it is an experience that is worth it. It sounds surprising that a tragic musical is the longest running musical in the West End, but it teaches you to go beyond tragedy and see it for what it is. “Les Mis” is more of an inspirational story than a sad one, even though it will always be tragic.

The journey of Valjean going from a hardened, harsh, angry man into a compassionate, thoughtful man is very spiritual. He shows compassion towards everyone especially towards Fantine and Cosette. He does saint-like actions such as promising to raise Cosette as his own and rescuing Marius from the barricades. Valjean’s spiritual journey would not have been successful if it was not for the kindness, compassion, and forgiveness of the bishop. The bishop gave Valjean a chance when no one else would and forgave Valjean after he stole his candlesticks. Through this actions, Valjean was redeemed and it showed Valjean how to become a better person.Throughout the show, Valjean continued to act in ways that made his redemption stronger.

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“Les Mis” has a unique ability of taking you on a highly emotional journey. The storyline is epic and extremely powerful and takes you through so many emotions in just three hours. It is filled with lots of hope, compassion, heartbreak, and death. It is special how the inspirational and the depressing world of the show come together because it helps make the experience worth it. There is compassion when there is desperation and there is hope even if the show takes place in a dark time in France. Valjean always try to do the right thing and not let his past define him. He tries not to let his bitterness return, but he knows he is making an impact on those he is helping. He learned how to love after he adopted Cosette after unexpected circumstances.

Both Valjean and Cosette were broken people, but through each other, they rose above their backgrounds. As a child, Cosette was horribly abused and Valjean had a harsh treatment in prison. They relied on each other to get through all of the trauma they had to face in their past. The storyline shows how important it is to stand up for what you believe in. Enjorlas and the students started the uprising because they were angry at the unstable government. Even though their uprising was unsuccessful, they stayed passionate no matter what even when they felt hopeless. Through the Thenardiers, the audience gets a  a much-needed laugh every so often. Through Eponine, you see her showing true love to Marius even if the love is unrequited. That is the special thing about Eponine because even though Marius will not love her back, she still wants to protect him and cares about his happiness more than her own. Through Javert, you see a man trying to do the right thing even if it may not always be right.

So many of the characters are facing a major conflict and they still manage to thrive. All of their storylines eventually come together and connect back to the main storyline. That is because Cosette is a part of all the different storylines. For starters, she is Fantine’s daughter and when Cosette was just a child, she lived with the Thenardiers. When she was eight, Valjean came and took her away from the Thenardiers and raised her as his own even if it risked his life because Javert was trying to recapture him. Cosette is part of a love triangle with Eponine and Marius. Finally, Marius is one of the student revolutionaries, which allows Cosette to connect to the story of Enjorlas and the students.

“Les Mis” taught me a lot and showed me to see beyond tragedy. Originally I pushed tragedies back and did not want them to become a part of my life. I hoped tragic musicals would never exist. But I soon realized the beauty and joy of experiencing tragedy. Through “Les Mis”, I learned from the past and realized that tragedies are more than being sad. Ever since seeing the movie, I kept on asking myself why I always feel uplifted by the end. It made me search the musical and see if I could find anything to answer that question. I soon realized that the show has many elements of spirituality. Those are elements such as compassion, forgiveness, humanity, love, hope, and redemption.

I am a strong spiritual person and that is what I relate to in the show. I relate to the spirituality of the show and that is why I have such a strong emotional connection to the material. On top of that, I have a deep connection to those living in poverty and homelessness and a lot of “Les Mis” characters connect to that such as Eponine and the Thenardiers. “Les Mis” offers you chances to laugh and cry and by the end, you become uplifted. I always knew that there was something unique about the score because I know that the kind of score is rarely seen in musical theatre. The musical is still fresh in my life and I feel fortunate to have seen the show in London in the middle of its 30th year. Seeing it in the West End made the show even more powerful and emotional because emotions I have felt before became stronger. A lot of the inspirational elements were so strong in this production because I felt them so truthfully. The West End cast I saw was very brilliant and they truly made the characters come alive and I had an understudy as Valjean.

Bristol Pilgrimage

Last year, I went on a Pilgrimage to England over the summer. This pilgrimage was the best part of the summer. Our church choir was invited to sing at the Bristol Cathedral. The trip allowed us to go to castles, multiple church services, and spiritual places such as Stonehenge and Tintern Abbey.

My family decided to go to England two days early in order to enjoy more of London. During those two days, the best part of the trip happened, which connected to the spiritual world of the pilgrimage. The best part was seeing the West End production of Les Misérables with my mom. I had seen the stage show three times already, but I had never seen it professionally. It was a dream come true and I knew it was becoming a reality once the lights went off and the music began. Just through the first couple of notes, I knew it was more than I originally excepted. The London production was the most epic powerful emotionally felt experience I ever had with the musical. The emotions were spot on that night and the cast was brilliant. Most of the leads had only been in the cast for about one month when I saw them. I also had an understudy for Jean Valjean, the protagonist of the show. During this production, I finally felt something for Javert, which I thought would never happen because I do not like the character. The show’s plot is story of compassion, forgiveness, sacrifice, humanity, hope, and redemption, which is why the show is so inspirational. I also got the chance to meet the actor who played Vajean and I got my picture taken with him and he signed my playbill. Another thing that made this experience special was that I got to fulfill my dream in the middle of the show’s 30th year.

The day after the show was when the group finally met up. The first thing the group did was visiting Windsor Castle. In all, I saw three castles and the most spiritual one was Chepstow Castle. Each castle brought something special to the pilgrimage. At Windsor, I saw the changing of the guards, which made me feel like a kid again. At Berkley Castle, I dressed up with one of the chorister students. At Chepstow Castle, I saw areas which reminded me of stained glass and I saw areas which looked like crosses.

In total, I went to ten church services. Most of them were at Bristol Cathedral and those were the most special, but it was still enjoyable when we went to services at Westminster, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and Salisbury Cathedral. The reason why seeing the services at Bristol Cathedral was the most special was because my church choir was singing and their songs were gorgeous. The best one was at the very last evensong and when the solos began, I was speechless.

I also loved visiting Tintern Abbey. At first, I did not think there would be anything interesting about the ruins of an old Abbey. But I learned to love it quickly. Exploring it was spiritual to me because at one point, I saw a dove in a corner and I associate a dove with a story in the bible. Both Tintern and Chepstow are in Wales, England.

The big “mountan-top” moment of the show was Stonehenge. I still cannot believe I actually saw that famous place. I quickly noticed how sacred it was. The place was very windy and the windy I felt made me say that the wind was God’s energy passing through me. The clouds also reflected how transforming it is. As you walk around, each view is very different.

It was also the smaller memories that made the trip matter. One of them was hunting for Shaun the Sheep in Bristol. One of the early memories was getting my picture taken at platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station. Going to Bath was not a huge favorite part of the trip, but it was more than I thought, but added to the meaning.

Overall, I think that the best part of the pilgrimage was the fellowship among everyone. That was a huge reason why everything was spiritual. The bond the group created was special. It made each memory worth it and made England the best part of the summer. Without the bond, the trip would not have been as spiritual and meaningful. This trip had make me more spiritually strong. I am so glad I got to go on this trip. In total, there were 72 people on the trip.

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/sacred/”>Sacred</a&gt;