What are we talking about today?

Some days have themes. I don't necessarily post something in each of these topic areas every week.

Sunday: Church-related or spiritual things.
Monday: Running.
Tuesday: Books.
Friday: Green living.

29 August 2016

No Doubt in Our Hearts

I have about five pics
of this phrase as a
result of (unsuccessfully)
trying to get a pic of
John Owen-Jones
on the marquee. FINE.
Les Misérables post #2! (Here's #1, aka "things you can see/hear from the front row.") I was in full-on hey-look-there-goes-my-adrenaline-without-me mode even more so than usual when I arrived at the Imperial Theatre, especially since I'd just gotten tweets back from some of the cast in response to my queries about whether they would be doing stage door that night. It's kind of amazing I was even able to walk in a straightish line.

The first usher I met inside looked at my ticket, sighed with happiness, and said, "That is a very good seat." It's a good sign when the ushers are happy just seeing where you'll be sitting. All the folks sitting around me were grinning as much as I was, because we were IN THE FRONT ROW AT LES MISÉRABLES, Y'ALL.

There have been a bunch of cast changes since the last time I saw the show, and all of the principal cast members apart from Marius were ones I hadn't seen before. They've also tweaked a few things here and there in the staging, and some of the actors have changed up how they deliver some lines. So it was kind of like seeing old friends who'd redecorated the living room since I last visited.

The curtain over the stage before the show starts. 
A few highlights (not nearly all of them, because OMG this show):

John Owen-Jones (Jean Valjean): I knew he was going to be amazing, having seen him on my TV often enough, but it's always extra-special to see someone in person after having been a fan from a distance.

Hayden Tee (Javert): I have a Twitter friend who's worked with him in Australia and speaks of him quite highly, so I had serious expectations going in. Y'all, I may have a new favourite Javert. First time I've ever listened to "Stars" without wanting the actor to hurry it up a bit.

Alison Luff (Fantine): I gotta say, they do get through the Fantines at Les Mis. But when they're all this spectacular, well, who's complaining? Her "I Dreamed a Dream" is gorgeous, of course, but watching her downward spiral during "Lovely Ladies" was what tore me apart. Hearts lying on the floor in pieces just shouldn't be allowed that early in any show.

Rachel Izen (Madame Thénardier): I loathe the Thénardiers. A lot. Every time I see the show or read the book, I hate the Thénardiers a bit more, comic relief or not. However! Rachel Izen is absolutely perfect, and so delightful to watch, so I was totally giggling through my hate. A confusing combination of emotions, to be sure, but that's basically my life now anyway.

Mark Uhre (Enjolras): Every time I see a new-to-me person as Enjolras, I think, "This one. This one is the best." Enjolras is my favourite Les Mis character, and that's unlikely to change anytime soon, and certainly not as long as such talented gents keep playing him. Loved, loved, loved Mr. Uhre's "Do You Hear the People Sing?" (I follow him on Instagram, and you should too, because his illustrations are fantastic.)

The Entire Freaking Ensemble: This visit to Les Misérables was all about the ensemble for me, because most of my favourite folks in the show are in the ensemble rather than the principal cast, so that's who I was really watching. Y'all, I tried counting their costume changes. I tried counting how many different characters a couple of them played. Could not do it. I don't know how long it is from the start of the show to the Paris scenes--an hour, maybe?--but for that entire early part of the show, ensemble members are onstage for about two minutes, leave, change clothes in about 30 seconds, come back on stage for another two minutes, rinse and repeat. It's a huge cast, but it seems even huger when the wings practically have revolving doors installed. No wonder they're all always so tired once the show is over.

And speaking of some of my favourites:

The playbill before these lovely
people signed it. Stage door pics
did not come out well at all, alas,
so those photos are buried
in a folder labeled "bitter regret."
Beth Kirkpatrick: I've now seen her twice, because she was on the 25th anniversary tour that came through Austin, but of course my seats in Austin are so far from the stage that the actors may as well not have faces. It would be more fair to say that I'm a Twitter fan of Ms. Kirkpatrick, but since I do follow her, she was one of the few ladies in the ensemble who I recognized on sight. And she's fantastic. Can't wait to see her in whatever she does next.

Joe Spieldenner: I did a ton of gushing about his Grantaire last week and basically every other time I've mentioned Grantaire in the past year, but I would be remiss not to say that his Major Domo is fantastically hilarious and I wish he had more than about five minutes on stage. Major Domo also hates the Thénardiers, which here in Su-Land is just a bonus. I've now seen Mr. Spieldenner as Major Domo three times and didn't even realise it the first two times. Front row FTW!

Jason Forbach: I was totally counting how many times he came on stage carrying a torch in the first 30 minutes. I would tell you, except that I eventually lost count and had to let it go. Maybe there's a different torch for every costume. Anyway, his Factory Foreman is so excellent that he fills me with a deep loathing. It's slightly terrifying that someone who is otherwise so engaging on stage incites these feelings of rage and murder so early in the show.

Joshua Morgan: Another person I'm technically a Twitter fan of, but he had me giggling through the whole show. He plays Joly, for whom I have a considerable soft spot in my heart (thank you, fanfiction!), but Mr. Morgan is also one of the ones I was watching in awe as he went from one character to the next at what is surely superhuman speed. Unbelievable, and yet totally believable every time he came on stage.

Two trips to NYC, three attempts to
get a decent pic of these billboards
in Times Square. I'm REALLY not so
great with the picture-taking.
"One Day More": Why on earth they can't sing this song more than once I'll never understand. One thing I love about this song is that it's great for listening to, but about 24601% better when you see it performed. It wasn't my favourite Les Mis song until the first time I saw the whole show live, and I'm not exaggerating when I say my mouth was hanging open the entire time (this was back in the days of the turntable, which I admit I miss a lot when this song comes up). When the lights went up for intermission that first time, I turned to Chadwick and asked, "Did you see that?? It was incredible!" and he of course said something like, "Yeah, honey, I was sitting right here." It just gets better every time I see it, although I'd swear it also gets shorter every time. Love, love, love.

Okay, okay, I'll stop! For today. But one more thing before I go: I really want to see a genderbent Les Mis someday just so I have more gushing to do about the women in the cast, who are harder to remember since they mostly don't have character names. That's the thing I really dislike about this show.

Post title is one of Enjolras' lines, just before "Do You Hear the People Sing?" begins. Because Enjolras.

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