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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.
Wednesday: Transportation.
Friday: Green living.

25 August 2016

The Music of Angels, the Light of the Sun

Y'all, in the final week of July I went to the theatre three times in 24 hours. Here's a little #protip: That is a terrible, terrible idea. In this era of bingewatching everything on Netflix, it may not sound so bad, but theatre done well is emotionally exhausting for the audience. It's happening right in front of you, it's raw, it's extraordinary, it carries you away with it, and may well leave you in pieces. Paying someone to do that to you three times in one day sounds fun (and it was!), but eventually your mind and heart will present the bill.

So if you're going to do it, make sure it's worth it. With a combination of Something Rotten, Fiddler on the Roof, and Les Misérables, it was so worth it I'd happily do it again and again, despite the hours I spent crying in a public library a few days later. Because when it comes to screwing with one's emotions, no one is a slower learner than I am.

The curtain over the stage after the show. (Before the show, it's the same
background but minus the title and plus Victor Hugo's name in
the lower right-hand corner.)
I've written about Les Mis so many times you'd think I'd left myself with nothing to say. Hahaha! No, this is going to be at least three blog posts before I'm done. I'm kind of in love with this current cast (thank you, Twitter!), so when I went to get the ticket and saw there was one lonely seat on the front row still available, I put in my credit card number so fast my keyboard started smoking.

Y'all. I can never not sit on the front row ever again. I am ruined for life. First of all, I made so much eye contact with the actors (possibly because I was wearing my big scary grin the whole time and they were just checking to see if that was really a human down there) and I got an extra jolt of happiness every time it was an actor who I recognized--which, due to my stalking intense research, is most of them. Pretty sure Will Ray is the one I made eye contact with most. He's at the front of the stage a lot.

Basically this is exactly how it looked from my seat. Not all of them are
the same folks I saw; this is a pic from early in the revival. I was a bit
distracted during this scene trying to identify who among them I recognized.
Secondly, and even more fun: the actors talk to each other, in character, throughout the show but in the barricade scenes especially, but unless you're very close to the stage you can't hear them since their mics are off. Naturally, local drunkard and part-time comic relief Grantaire (Joe Spieldenner) says some of the funniest stuff, and I told him at stage door that he had me laughing so hard at such inappropriate moments. I've forgotten most of them (I waited way too long to blog about this!) and may have heard them wrong to begin with, so this is one of those times I really hope they don't all have Google alerts on their names.

The company of Les Misérables.
Enjolras (Mark Uhre): "Don't like the wine go to your brains!"
Grantaire: "It's going to my stomach."
Feuilly (Jason Forbach): *to Grantaire* "I told you so."

Enjolras: "We need a sign, to rally the people... ."
Grantaire: "Why don't we just make some signs?"

During "Drink With Me," Joly (Joshua Morgan) cozies up a bit with the woman next to him on the bench during his line "Here's to pretty girls who went to our beds." She shoves him to get him away (unfortunately, I don't recognize most of the women in costume, so I don't know who she was), which knocks him into I think Devin Ilaw, who nearly falls off the bench. She says to him, "Are you okay? (to Joly) Not you. Nobody cares about you. (to the other guy) Are you okay?" I was laughing so hard at this exchange that I missed Grantaire's first "Drink With Me" line, but all the good stuff comes after the first line anyway.

For those of us who enjoy sadness: When Enjolras realizes their situation is hopeless and says "Let the women and fathers of children go from here!" Grantaire tells Gavroche to go and they argue about it before Gavroche pretends to leave, only to come right back once Grantaire's back is turned and be killed before the battle even begins. I can't even describe how heartbreaking that scene is, as Grantaire takes Gavroche's body from the barricade, screams in agony, and then lays Gavroche down so he can go die beside Enjolras. I didn't take my eyes off Grantaire for the entire scene. (Not that that's anything new. I'm quite a fan, in case you hadn't guessed.)

And finally, "Valjean's Confession." Marius' (Chris McCarrell) facial expressions are fantastic through this song-- he starts off looking very "uh-oh, I'm in trouble," then kind of relaxes as he realizes that he's in the clear, and then the moment when it dawns on him what Valjean is saying shows so clearly on his face. It's perfect. Better than Eddie Redmayne.

What I tried to see but didn't: When Fantine bites Bambatabois' face. A previous Fantine described biting into a capsule of red stuff & spitting it onto his face in an interview once. I was on the front row and watching for it and still didn't see it. They cover it really well.

What I saw happen but still didn't believe my eyes: During "Bring Him Home," everyone finds a place to sleep. Apparently the nooks and crannies on the barricade are huge, because hardly any actors were actually visible onstage, only for them to come tumbling out from all directions when dawn breaks and Enjolras starts speaking again.

What I saw but pretended not to notice: Two of the barricade boys breathing when they were dead. Can't blame them for having trouble keeping it hidden--they're racing around the stage fighting for the whole scene leading up to them laying there dead, and it has to be nearly impossible to keep your breaths small enough to not be seen, especially for the guys who are sprawled right there on the barricade in full view of the audience. One of them was trying so hard to control his breathing that I started to worry that he was going to pass out, but the barricade rolled off the stage and carried away the dead guys before that could happen. (You know who didn't show any signs of breathing? Enjolras. Maybe he practices holding his breath for long stretches of time.)

If that's not enough glorious detail about Les Misérables for you, don't worry; I have more ready for next week.

Post title is a line from the song "In My Life." Not my favourite song in Les Mis, but a good descriptor for the show as a whole.


J E Oneil said...

It's so cute to see you geek out over theatre so much. And I guess seeing the actors breathing is what happens when you're in the front row. That must have been such a treat!

Su Wilcox said...

I geek out so much that people are always asking me if I'm an actor. Erm, definitely not--I'm much better with a credit card than stage presence, thanks!