Saturday, June 12, 2010

In which Les Miserables is reviewed...

Before I start my review, I must explain why, in all my excitement and joy about having seen this wonderful show last night, I did not blog about it immediately. It is because, when I came home after Les Miserables, I was really exhausted. Why? Because the upstairs neighbours felt it was necessary to try and rechoreography the musical STOMP. I am not kidding: it sounded like they had hired a marching band to walk back and forth over our heads at TWO in the freakin' morning!! Needless to say I barely slept. Michael believes they were having a fight up there. I do not care: I was so tired after Les Miserables due to this, that I was forced to stay away from my beloved blog! *sad face*

And now, on to the review.

Les Miserables, originally a book by Victor Hugo, was adapted into a musical (in 1980) composed by Claude-Michel Schönberg with Alain Boublil, and lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer

Les Miserables

* warning, spoilers ahead for those who do not know the story of Les Miserables... and it is a shame if you do not know it... so google it NOW!!*

Presented for the Festival des Francofolies de Montreal (in other words, the Festival of French Language of Montreal), Les Miserables has come to Place-des-Arts from June 8th to June 19th. The fabulous production is, for the most part, the same cast as the cast that presented the show in Quebec City, for the 400th anniversary of the city.

This means that many talented singers were on stage, notably Gino Quilico, famous Canadian Baritone. He starred in the role of Jean Val-Jean and sang beautifully. That man has a fabulous stage presence.
Other performers were not quite as well known, as this is a very Quebecan (I do not know if that is the proper word...) cast. However, all singers were very gifted and talented. Notably, the young boy (Emilien Neron) featured in the role of Gavroche was very impressive (and super cute! he had the knobbliest knees!): he is presently attending Felix Leclerc school, but is very gifted in theater as well as music.

As I had already seen this production of Les Miserables once before (when it was featured in Quebec City), I wish to first mention the differences that I spotted between the newer production and the old one. In all truth, as good as the first one was, I believe I preferred this newer version. They have emphasized the drama fabulously with a few minor changes to the staging.

What were the changes? The major changes could be found in the many death scenes of the show. Yes, for those who like musical theater because it is mostly happy, you are mistaken if you do not think Les Miserables is a total tragedy. In fact, I believe it to be the saddest musical in the history of mankind (only very few characters survive).
So the death scenes were changed and made (although it seemed impossible) even more dramatic than when I saw it in Quebec. Eponine had refined her death scene to make it frighteningly realistic... she collapsed much earlier and maintained a steady tremble of agony through her last song (I cried... A LOT!). The young actor in the role of Gavroche flabbergasted me in his death scene, being just as realistic as Eponine and absolutely heart-wrenching in his performance.
But the really dramatic deaths were the students at the barricade and Javert's suicide. The students all got shot, but, instead of immediately falling to the stage floor, as they did in Quebec city, all the shot men came and stood, injured, in a line at the front of the stage. When their leader, the student Enjolras, waved the flag at the soldiers and got shot in turn, then they all fell at once and the light faded to red and then to black... that had quite a grim effect, but the dramatic impact was AMAZING!!!
As for Javert's suicide, the backdrop of Paris had one of the many bridges crossing the Seine. As Javert advanced on stage, singing his suicide song, another Javert appeared at the top of the bridge. They moved together like two shadows until the end of the song, at which point the Javert at the front of the stage disappeared in the wings and there was a moment of silence. During that silence, the Javert on the bridge turned his back to the audience and jumped. It was amazing and had a great effect on the audience, who were not too sure whether they should clap at this point or just be shocked.

As always, the music was beautiful. The stage was fabulously set and the choreographies were amazing (notably "Master of the House" with the Thenardiers had a fabulous choreography and great acting). The costumes were amazing and the performers great. The only unfortunate thing was the use of microphones. It is understandable, as the crowd was huge, and the orchestra small... but the person managing the sound sometimes forgot to turn on the mics, which took away from the show a little.

But otherwise it was a stunning feast for the eyes and, especially, the ears. It was also a total tear-jerker and a beautifully heart-wrenching production. I believe it had a very cathartic effect on me, and I always enjoy when a show does that.

Unfortunately, the whole musical was in French, which sucked for Michael, as his understanding of French is fairly minimal as of yet. However, even he shed a tear for Eponine and Gavroche, so the music and the visual were THAT good. Even he was moved. It was awesome... but sad.

*sigh* Now I REALLY want to sing Eponine on stage someday. Michael believes I would honestly be a fabulous Eponine. I wonder if he is just saying that because we are dating... or if he really believes I have it in me to die one of the most tragic stage deaths known to musicals... (oh, and I LOVE her songs!!!)

Anyways... Les Miserables made me SUPER DUPER HAPPY (after many tears, obviously). I had a wonderful evening last night, first going to a super fancy restaurant at Place-des-Arts, which has beautiful Opera costumes standing on display outside it. It is called the Seingalt, after Casanova, who was the Lord of Seingalt... Anyways, the food was AMAZING and the restaurant wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed dinner with Michael and my mum and it was really fun. I could do this every night!

In other news... I have a pretty french manicure. Yes, you all had to know that! XD

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