Les Miz!

I had the rare and wonderful opportunity to see the London performance of Les Miserables in the early 90s. We were living in the UK when my husband was active duty Air Force and we had three glorious years to soak in British culture. Trips to London to see plays were high on my To Do list. When I saw Les Miz I was smitten to my core with the story, the music, the characters – everything about it. I immediately bought the soundtrack and have now listened to it so many times I can sing the bawdy “Master of the House” in my sleep and I really don’t want to. I bought the piano score so that I could play “I Dreamed a Dream” all I wanted and whenever I hear the phrase “Who am I?” I want to shout out “2 4 6 0 1!!!”

I compare every performance of Les Miz with that London performance and I’ve not come across one I love as much. When a film version came out a few years back with Liam Neeson as Jean Valjean I had serious doubts Hollywood could pull off Victor Hugo’s masterpiece the way the London cast did. I came away from that screening more assured than ever that no one can touch the London cast’s version. Ever.

But now I am not so sure. I think maybe the upcoming newest film version is going to knock my snooty socks off. I saw the trailer last night for the soon-to-be-released film version starring Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, Anne Hathaway as Fantine, and Russell Crowe as Javert (Oh, Javert, you tortured, tortured soul!) and Oh. My. Goodness. The trailer is already tugging at my socks.  The cast sings all the takes live. The musical numbers aren’t voiceovers of studio work the actors did months before they starting filming. They are singing live takes with all the emotional pathos that the real scene brings: Watch for yourself:

Is that amazing or what?? Are you a fan of Les Miz? Where were you the first time you saw it? What was your favorite moment or line? You tell me yours and I will tell you mine!

Author: Susan

This post has 13 Comments

  1. Michael Ehret on October 5, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    Tingles. I swear. Tingles. I have never seen this show, am only familiar with the one song (I Dreamed A Dream), but when I saw the trailer in the theatre the other day I was immediately gripped. Added it to my mental Must See list at that moment.

    I'm a huge fan of musicals, but somehow missed ever seeing this one. But I cannot wait. Singing those songs live … genius.

  2. Wendy Paine Miller on October 5, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    I cannot wait for this movie. Even the trailer brings me to tears!

    ~ Wendy

  3. Courtney Walsh on October 5, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    Oh shoot. I just bawled watching this. Again.

  4. Susan Meissner on October 5, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    I have seen the trailer four times this morning and have cried every time. I really think this one is going to eclipse my beloved London version…

  5. Anne Mateer on October 5, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    I am SO excited–especially after I saw this trailer for the first time and realized they were actually singing instead of studio singing! I've seen the stage production at least half a dozen times, including 2X in NYC and listened to the soundtrack countless times. Oh–and both anniversary concert specials, too! I love, love, love Les Mis. The music. The story. The characters. The hardest part now is not singing along with every part at the top of my lungs, at least in public. 🙂

  6. Clair on October 5, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    I didn't know they were coming out with the movie, but I will have to be sure to see it.

  7. Cherry Odelberg on October 6, 2012 at 3:13 am

    Can hardly wait! But, at the same time, I don't know if I can bear to see the trailer again, much let alone the entire movie.

  8. Anonymous on October 6, 2012 at 7:21 am

    Agreed, Susan. Saw the trailer this week and told my husband, “I believe we'll have to go to the movies more than our usual 1 time per year.” He agreed.

    I have actually avoided it (not on purpose, mind you) all my life. Early this year I read Chris Fabry's June Bug, cried myself into a headache, and decided I should check out the real thing. Shortly, the 25 year anniversary at the O2 (I think) in London, with Alfie Boe as Jean Valjean played on PBS. Cried myself nearly blind, and watched it again the next day. I have since watched it again (a few times–okay, I was bedridden for months earlier in the year so I wasn't just being indulgent.) read the book, and listened to some of the music dozens and dozens of times. Even tried to win a trip to go see it in London. Notice I said “tried.” 🙁

    My favorite scenes are when the priest tells Jean he has been saved for a purpose and Jean tells Fantine he will care for Cosette. But the best was watching/listening to Alfie Boe get lost in the plea when he sang “Bring Him Home.” He clearly was surprised to open his eyes and be on stage in front of an audience. Spectacular.

    And yours?

    Thanks, Susan, for sharing.

  9. Andrea on October 6, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    Susan, thank you for posting the clip about the filming of Les Mis. I can't wait to see the movie in December!

    I first saw the full production in Sacramento about five years ago. But before that, I had borrowed the 10th Anniversary video from the library, and ended up playing it over and over to learn the words. My daughter was eight, and started asking me about the story, so I ran back to the library and borrowed Lee Fahnestock's 1987 translation. A few years later, our local high school managed to put on an excellent production of the high school version. My daughter's class saw it on a field trip, and she told me that she was the only one who understood the story, and had to keep explaining what was going on to her friends.

    My question for you is this: which translation have you read? I recently purchased the new 2008 translation by Julie Rose, and I love the fact that it reads more smoothly and is easier to understand than the 1987 translation. But there are certain parts that are SO different, especially a favorite passage near the beginning of the Petit-Gsvroche chapter, which somehow completely lost its sheen in the 2008 translation.

    BTW, I personally think it is OK to skip the Waterloo chapter, and just go back and read the last five pages of it later when you are trying to figure out why Marius's father believed that Thenardier had saved his life at Waterloo. What do you think?

  10. Susan Meissner on October 7, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    I have to confess, Andrea, that I haven't read Hugo's entire book, just parts. Do you still like me? And I don't whose translation I have on my Kindle because my Kindle is home right now and I am not.

    I have probably come down a whole bunch of notches in your eyes…

  11. Susan Meissner on October 7, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    My favorite part of the musical is at the very end when Jean Valjean is dying and the people that have taught him what love is are singing to the tune of On My Own. And they sing this: “To love another person is to see the face of God.”

    I cry every time I hear that,even if I am just humming it in my head

  12. Andrea on October 8, 2012 at 4:56 am

    Susan, I will always like you A LOT. I'm the one who should go down a few notches for obsessing about the book to the point of not bothering to prepare family dinners and probably neglecting my kids.

    My favorite part of the musical is right after Fantine dies, when Valjean and Javert are arguing in duet, during which Valjean sings to Fantine “And I swear to you tonight, your child will live within my keeping, and I will guide her to the light” and then Valjean and Javert both sing “I swear to you, I will be there,” (with Javert meaning he will put Valjean in jail.)

    No! My favorite part is when the Bishop sings “But remember this my brother: see in this some higher plan. You must use this precious silver to become an honest man.”

    No! My favorite part is when Eponine singing about the trees being full of starlight.

    Or maybe . . . Nevermind!!!!!

  13. Mocha with Linda on October 11, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    I just saw it for the first time in June with Broadway Across America. Can't wait to see the movie. And my girl is a fanatic.

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