Anything but Misérable

Les Mis - our high school edition

Last night, Katie and I painted the town red – and black (the dark of ages past) – when we took in opening night of Les Misérables at the Boston Opera House.

For me, this was more than just a night at the theater.  It was a symbol of our friendship.  It was a reminder of that time 9 years ago (yes, I feel old when I say that) when we first saw Les Mis on stage (also through Broadway in Boston) with the music department of our high school.  The way we felt when the barricade folded and the stage started spinning.  The shock and awe of watching a musical – and this musical especially – reveal the fate of each character and rip your heart away in the process.

Then, the production we did our senior year of high school, where we built the barricade by hand, stayed up late sewing tri-color scarves, and scoured HomeGoods for the best silver candlesticks $30 could buy.

And then, a reminder of London, of the six months we spent there together, eating waffles in Hyde Park, shopping on Portobello Road, and deciding on a whim to go see the stage production there, buying tickets after class and eating ice cream in the balcony during intermission.

All that brought us here, to our sweet little Boston apartment with photos of our lives on the walls, a Big Ben shower curtain, and a roommate who knows how to finish whatever musical tune you start.

Now, ON WITH THE SHOW!  Spoilers ahead!

Overall review of the show: amazing.  Our cheap seats were quite good, and the music (instruments and singers) was incredible.  When they shine the way they did here, nothing else really matters.  But just for the record…

+ The way they started the show with Valjean on a prison boat, rowing for his life rather than digging in a dusty field.  Right from the first scene, you knew this was going to be a different Les Mis.

+ The fact that young Eponine (who also plays Little Cosette) is Valjean’s real-life daughter.  So cute!

– The disappearance of the spinning stage and all the awesome technical bits that went with it.  SO SAD!

+The retention of some classic moments: Eponine dying in Marius’s arms, marching in a pyramid with the flag waving in the background

+ The reimagining of Fantine and Eponine as giant belty singing roles instead of operatic parts

– The fact that we didn’t get to see Gavroche die – because the set didn’t spin, they just showed the barricade from the back and sounded gunshots and a voice over.  Not the same kind of powerful, and a shame to lose.

+ The set!!  It was second to none, better even than Wicked.  This is what you get when you have a stationary stage, I suppose.

– The lack of turning in… “Turning.”  At least pretend!

– The 15 minute break after “On My Own” for “technical difficulties” – I still think they were making plans in case the big fire down the street caused our theater to lose power

+ The way that Les Mis resembles the Occupy movement … more on this later, probably.

+ The special effects in the background, especially in the sewer scene.  I think I was pinching Katie this whole time – sorry!

+++ The way that all the way home, we sang snippets of songs – and are still singing them today (and tomorrow, and the day after that…)

Bottom line: incredible show, as usual, and theater makes the rest of life better (always).

Do you hear the people sing, say do you hear the distant drums?
It is the future that they bring when tomorrow comes.

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