Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Miserably Good Musical

Sometime back in another era, I read Victor Hugo's Les Miserables but only because my parents sided with a teacher who insisted I follow the reading curriculum. That teacher had a whipping board that she called the "Board of Education". (This is back when school officials were allowed to beat the crap out of disobeying students in preparation for the ass whipping we were going to get later on at home. True story.)

Of course, I refused to enjoy Mr. Hugo's masterpiece. In rebellion for having to read it the first time, I refused to ever attempt it again - for around 30 years, because I can hold a grudge like nobody's bizness, sister. I think I read the novel during a trip to visit my father when he was dying. I can't remember if I read it to him or not, but I remember he was pleased I was reading it. He believed before I did that I would be a great novelist someday.

When I fell ill with sarcoidosis, I lost a lot of memories about my younger years. I remember things I did, but I can't recall much about why or when or how the hell I survived to celebrate my fiftieth birthday. One thing I do know is that I loved Les Miserables, but I don't remember why. I'm in the middle of writing a novel right now so I refuse to read other works. I have a mimicking habit that bleeds into hearing the voices other writers use. Still, I wanted to enjoy the Hugo's story again. I did what every lazy person does: I rented the video of the musical.

I'm glad I watched this recording. This was my first experience seeing the stage play. I love the music, even though my heart was breaking and I caught myself sniffling through several parts. I will re-watch this video again, but, trust me, it won't be when I'm too sad already.

Remember that I've mentioned before how other people hate watching any kind of entertainment with me? One reason is that I'm easily distracted, the other is that I get distracted by things that I want to discuss. In detail. Right when the thought hits me. I wear the absolute hell out of a Pause button.

If anyone reading this has never watched Les Miz before, I want to encourage them to do so. Netflix had the 28th anniversary edition. The story is as relevant as if it were written today. Anyone who has lived any kind of real life will find themselves tripping through about ten different emotions while watching the musical. It's really just a story about hopelessness and hope; life and death; cowardice and courage.

Since no one watched this production with me, I'm going to burden you guys with the Pause-and-discuss moments I had with my imaginary friend. Her name is Tate:

  • The play is based on a French novel, but the characters all spoke with British accents. Was this intentional? It must have been. The first time I heard any of the Bee Gees speak I almost fell off my chair. After that, of course, I heard the accents in their songs. 
  • When the priest offered Valjean bread and a place to rest, I wondered where that free bread and bed had been when the poor guy was busted for stealing?
  • How hot is the bad guy? And why is it that the bad guys are always so hot. Maybe that's just my inner teenager coming out. I didn't get into "nice" guys until after I'd actually gotten a bad guy. Huh.
  • Why is the girl who gets the guy blonde while the girl who only gets some death-bed love a brunette. (I have this white hat/black hat thing that I need to get over.)
  • That Valjean guy can sing his ass off! The other singers were good (I especially liked Cossette), but I broke down in tears when Valjean began "Hear My Cry" with that beautiful high note. Oh! I had goosebumps.
  • During one of the musical interludes, I fell out laughing at the look of the harpist. It's like she didn't realize the camera was going to catch her in such a moment. Priceless.
  • I kind of like how when people die, there aren't all the special effects movies use that make me look away or want to puke. I'm not familiar with lots of theater works so I was didn't realize one of the characters had died by walking off into the mist. Skip subtle and just hit my dumbass over the head. 
Yeah, so I had a good time. I liked that the DVD had a separate section of just the songs. I'm going to get the soundtrack fast as I can.

Hope you get a chance to watch it. Hope I didn't ruin it for you.