As we make our way to our seats, I take notice of how breathtaking the chandeliers and the side balconies are.
Jean Valjean and the other prisoners are rowing a massive boat as part of their punishment. But, there wasn't actually a boat. The prisoners only used oars to give the impression that there was one. Don't get me wrong - this absolutely did not affect the intensity of the scene for me. Smoke surrounds the prisoners, it makes me feel as if they are actually at sea. Jean Valjean sings "Look Down" and I can see on his face the hardships that he has faced from having been in prison for twenty years. Isn't the prisoner in a story supposed to be the villain? But this story couldn't have made a better mistake. Instead, watching Jean Valjean gives me the chance to follow his transformation.
The production used so many clever techniques to making me feel as if I was actually there, over a hundred years ago. This is one of my favorite parts about watching plays. They made me believe that there was actually a French army attacking the rebels behind the barricade with just lights and the sound. During the scene where Jean Valjean was carrying the wounded Marius through the sewers, a video segmented projector changed the location of the sewer on a screen to the pace of how they were walking. So cool.
I was baffled by the number of times the stage crew was able to change the set for the different scenes. At one point, the prisoners were rowing the boat on stage and by the next scene Jean Valjean was trying to steal from a church.
Also, the makeup and the hair styles for the characters. The story brushes through so many different time periods of the characters' lives. I believed that Ramin Karmiloo, who played Jean Valjean, looked fifteen years older. It actually took me a while to realize that he was the same character and actor because everyone addressed him "Monsieur La Mayor" and he looked so different. I only found out he was Jean Valjean when Inspector Javier made the same discovery that the "Monsieur La Mayor" was the same runaway prisoner that escaped his parole from the past.
Even though I would more associate Les Miserables with the words serious and gloomy, I did genuinely laugh many times - like when the inn keeper and his wife sang "Master of the House" and subtly treated their guests in a rude manner. During the wedding of Marius and Cozette, they even came uninvited to the wedding and broke all the rules of etiquette, much to the surprise of all the guests (and me).
And by the end of the play, Jean Valjean fully convinced me that people have the possibility of becoming better. We can't let the past dictate who we are, even if not everyone agrees with that idea (such as Inspector Javier).
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