Les Miserables. Do you have a relationship with a musical?
My Les Miz journey begins with my incredible Aunt Karen. My Aunt Karen is a Les Miz fanatic. When it first came out, she ushered my entire family to the theater to see it. Soon after, as an eleven year old, I would practice “On My Own” with my voice teacher quite regularly, without any knowledge of what it meant to feel unrequited love. Without a movie to help me understand the complex plot, I would listen to the anthems as though they were pop songs on the radio. Then, I was a sophomore in high school. The national tour comes to Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey and my aunt and I drive out to see it. I am floored by the world that opens up to me. What I end up loving about Les Miz is what had confused me as a little kid – the presence of ten or so complicated characters, with the most French names I’ve ever heard, that each have something vivid to say.
Then I’m in a summer production of Les Miz and get as close as possible with this music and the revolution.
And then, I am at the Imperial Theater to see the see the 25th Anniversary production on a Broadway stage. It’s Aunt Karen’s seventh time seeing the show. It’s my second time seeing the show. I can’t believe that I am so eager to see it, but honestly I am already tearing up before the show thinking of the line “To love another person is to see the face of God.”
As the show begins, I am having mini-flashbacks of my own experience in the show last summer. No matter how exhausted I was at the end of each matinee and evening show of Les Miz, I looked forward to that affirmation.
“To love another person is to see the face of God.”
It just feels right to me, like sunrise. Though my heart breaks continually for the fighting schoolboys, a demented other half of me is cracking up thinking of when one of my friends playing a schoolboy fell asleep onstage.
At the top of Act 1, I am watching Ramin Karimloo portray the young Jean Val Jean. He is a scorned prisoner and a rugged individualist. I hear a voice that is humongous, unleashed, and as strong as I imagine val Jean’s physical strength might be. As you can see, I definitely agree that this man is extraordinary. I am reminded of why I loved Jean val Jean's story so much - because it begins with him seeing himself as a victim of a hateful world.