Last night, I was able to cross something off my bucket list. It was actually the first thing on my bucket list (whether that is bad prioritizing or not is up another matter). I saw Les Miserables in London.
I love Les Miz. Ever since I was little, I’ve been exposed to and loved the music. I read the abridged (but still very lengthy) version of it for the first time in the fifth grade, and read the full length version a few years later. I learned the sheet music and memorized the 1985 Broadway soundtrack. And I waited anxiously for the day I would be able to put everything together and see the musical performed big-time professionally. So last night was basically a dream come true, and it was worth waiting for.
Those who are familiar with Les Miz (be it the music or the book or even the movie’s pretty decent) understand that it’s a powerful work. And the performance was powerful. In some ways, I think my slight obsession with it might have affected the way I watched it (i.e. since I have the soundtrack memorized, it’s slightly disorienting to hear the singers perform at a different tempo or slightly different style than what I’m accustomed to hearing), but even so, there’s something about it being live that is incredible. When it first started, and I heard the orchestra playing those opening lines I knew so well, I got chills all over, and those moments came often through the remainder of the play.
Watching it is definitely different than reading it. Some characters, who I like a lot in the book, I found myself feeling more apathetic toward in the musical. Cosette was the perfect example of this. While the book allows me, the reader, a look into her mind and heart to understand her thoughts and feelings, the character Cosette on stage falls short on depth due to the inability to know her outside of what you see her do and say to other characters. However, other characters, like the Thénardiers, who I absolutely loathe in the book, came to life in a way that made me like them a little more, in spite of the fact that they really are despicable people. And thankfully Eponine, my favorite character (closely rivaled only by Javert and then Valjean), was just as easy to love in the musical as she is in the book.
A key convention of Greek tragedy is catharsis, or a releasing of emotion. I think it’s safe to say that Les Miz would have passed the Greek’s ideals for tragedy with flying colors (or colours, here). In fact, my first thought upon leaving the theater was that the musical had done an excellent job of being cathartic (my second thought was that I must definitely be an English major if that was really the first thing I had to say). I know that, for me, seeing these characters come to life right in front of me, and actually hearing them and watching them and breathing the same air as them, was pretty incredible. It wasn’t really new and exciting–after all, I’ve been living with these characters, reading and rereading time and time again passages from their lives, getting inside their mind and soul through song and text; they cannot be new to me–but more like finally meeting an old friend. It was exciting, but also very familiar. And very fulfilling.
So tonight I am very grateful, for I have been very fortunate to be able to fulfill a twelve-or-more year long dream and it turned out to be what I had hoped it would. And now, I (much like Rapunzel in Tangled when she finally sees the floating lights) get to go off in search of a new dream. Except, I think for tonight, I’ll just stick to the kind of dreams one finds in sleep, as it’s getting late. :-)
P.S. Also, for reasons that I don’t understand, I haven’t been able to get any of the pictures I’ve uploaded to actually post, so I’ll have to look more into that this weekend. If I can’t figure out the problem, I might have to start using Facebook for the picture posting…