What's it about?
Les Miserables follows the story of Jean Valjean, an ex convict who after spending nineteen years in prison is given a chance at redemption. As events unroll he is given custody of a young girl Cosette, all while the French Revolution is brewing and Valjean's past begins to haunt him as he is relentlessly chased by the inspector Javert.
What'd I experience?
It wasn't even ten seconds into the opening song before I was completely mesmerized by how powerful and emotional Les Miserables was. I had seen it once before a long time ago, and had seen the movie that came out in 2012, but I could already tell that this experience was going to be nothing like the others.
The show was at the Imperial Theater on West 45th Street, and when I received my ticket I was nervous when I saw that my seat was row A seat 5. Most of the time when I've been to theaters, the row all the way in the back has been A for some reason. But, when I got inside and saw that the back row was labeled "V" and the usher told me to go all the way to the front of the audience, I started freaking out. My seat was all the way in front and on the left, so close to the stage that my foot was touching it the entire time and I could rest my arm on it if I wanted. Normally a seat all the way on the left would kind of ruin the magic of everything because you can see behind a lot of the set and how things are running, but almost all of the action ended up happening literally right in front of me. A lot of the singing would make it's way over to me and the spotlight would actually end up on me along with the actors, which was kind of embarrassing because it gave them a clear look at the big dumb smile I had on the entire time because I was just so enthralled. A few people near me complained that we were able to see that the punches the actors were throwing at each other weren't coming close to connecting, but that didn't really bother me because I wasn't expecting them to actually start hitting one another.
The thing I love the most about Les Miserables is that it's completely void of regular dialogue. The entire show is essentially a song, and all dialogue is sung to a rhythm. On top of that there's really only about 5 or 6 different melodies throughout the entire show, and moments that share a common theme (like Valjean's "Soliloquy" and Javert's "Soliloquy" or "Who Am I?" and "One Day More") have the same melodies but with different characters singing and different lyrics. For me, it really gives the show a feeling that although the story spans many years - it is all connected. The powerful songs during turning points and times of conflict are so loud and explosive and the sadder and softer songs are smooth and solemn. It definitely got me in the mood to start a revolution despite the fact that all but one of the revolution's brigades end up dying.
One thing that took me by surprise was how awesome a lot of the scenes looked. And not just the insanely high quality scenes provided by the projected back of the stage but the physical pieces as well. During the battle scenes at the blockade, the set piece was this monstrous blockade that really looked like it was built out of various pieces of wood and furniture. It genuinely looked like they were climbing it and finding footing amongst the overturned chairs, barrels, and other pieces of wreckage. then when the firing began gunshots exploded throughout the theater and the rifles that the actors were using were actually firing blanks and the smell of gunpowder lingered. All of this coupled with the scarce lighting and the flashing of spotlights made me feel an almost real sense of urgency.
Of course I had to try not to cry when characters started dying because people were watching, but besides that I felt like I was actually part of the fight. From the obviously amazing main characters like Valjean and Javert, to the ensemble, everyone looked so beautiful. And I do mean their appearance, that was the most beautiful cast I had ever seen, and that's saying something because most of the time they were dressed as prostitutes, drunks, or homeless and poor people. The children in the cast, even. Those kids were so adorable.
Aside from the fact that I had to spend $15 on a small water bottle and 2 packs of M&Ms and that I was actually kind of blinded by the lights at one point in the show because of where I was sitting, I was into every moment and aspect of the show.
Want to see it?
:( Sorry. This show is not currently showing.