Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I Have Succumbed To Peer Pressure...

Yes, I'm afraid it's very true! But it's "peer presure" of the best kind. :)

For several months now I've encountered the "ravings" of fellow bloggers about Les Miserables - the classic book and the musical and put it down to just being the ramblings of half crazed fangirls. I mean, I had watched the Les Miserables (1998) dramatised adaptation of Victor Hugo's classic (starring Liam Neason as Valjean, it was nothings to write home about and sadly a few scenes were bad) and I didn't really see what the big deal was. (Yes, that's sadly true!)
But as the months passed and I continued reading accounts from dear blogging friends, such as Amy and Alexandra, of conquering the massive novel and really falling in love with the story as well as the musical I started to wonder if there was something in this mania.

Alun Armstrong as Thenardier
Then not too long ago I was putting together a post about Alun Armstrong (a favorite period drama actor) and discovered to my great surprise that he too was part of this great "conspirecy"! My interest was definitely piqued after that as I began to listen to clips of his songs and read up on the story a bit and (oh horrors!) even began to understand some of the inside jokes!

And then the weirdest thing happened. A few weeks ago I was just innocently browsing through some used books at a local Goodwill store when I found a large paperback copy of Les Miserables at an outrageously low price ($1.99 people! doesn't it almost seem a crime for classic books to be brought so low? ha). Well what was I to do? Leave the poor book there to gather dust or fall into unscrupulous hands? I began thinking of W.W.A.D.? (What Would Amy Do? and What Would Alexandra Do?) and before I knew it the money had been paid over and the poor dear had followed me home where I nestled it next to Great Expectations and The Scarlet Pimpernel (other classic books on my reading list)!

10th Anniversary Concert
Then two weeks ago I had free time in the morning before work and was looking for something to watch when I found Part One of the generally beloved Les Miz 10th Anniversary Concert on YouTube and jumped head-long in! From the first song my attention was captured and I couldn't stop watching until I'd seen all 15 parts!
I must confess to getting a bit confused with the story for the last half of the concert, but the music was still so gorgeous. A few days later I watched the 25th Anniversary Concert and that time understood the story better, subtitles also helped me to catch more of what they were singing.

25th Anniversary Concert
So by now you must be wondering "okay Miss Laurie watched the Les Miz concerts, but did she like it?" Well, my first reaction to seeing Les Miz for the first (and second) times was: "Wow! Just wow! This is good stuff!" hehe :)
I didn't expect to like Les Miz because although I like musicals I don't usually like "newer" ones (like from 1980's to present day) because they often seem to add questionable themes or music and dance styles that just aren't to my taste - Cats? Rent? really??). But I liked Phantom of the Opera pretty well so I knew I had to at least give Les Miz a try. Am I glad I did? Yes!


Les Miz has a wonderful story about redemption, friendship, courage, bravery, undying love, honorable heroes, self-sacrifice and the fight for freedom. The characters are interesting, well developed (especially for a musical!) and very endearing. The music is fantastic and the the lyrics are often very touching. At various times it made me smile, shed tears and cheer (huzzah!).


Favorite Characters: Valjean (a worthy hero), Javert (a worthy foe of sorts), Enjolras (a natural leader and wearer of "the red vest of power and awesomeness"!), Eponine (a true friend) and Gavroche (a little charmer). There's others but those are my favorite-est favorites.

Favorite Songs: Who Am I? (always gives me chills and brings tears to my eyes!), The Confrontation (amazing when sung well), Do You Hear The People Sing? (and the ending Reprise), One Day More (just wow!), On My Own (poor Eponine!), Bring Him Home (so touching!), Turning (love the tune and the words are interesting) and Beggars at the Feast (I like "Master of the House" too but probably like this better). And both concerts have the most fantastic cast reunions at the ends that give me goosebumps too!

Now, all that being said I do like Les Miz a lot and hope to read my large volume one day (probably as soon as I unpack it after moving), but...yes, but! But, I am by no means a die hard fan. I can just hear the wails "What do you mean you're not a die hard fan?!?!" I mean that I enjoyed it a lot, I watched the 10th and 25th Anniversary Concerts each twice (plue clips of my favorite songs) in the past few weeks, I'd love to see a live stage version one day, I am looking forward to the new movie version, and I'll discuss the story and characters till the cows come home (moo!!!) but it's not first in my affections. Les Miz is something I'm enjoying right now, my lasted "obsession" or "fandom" if you will. The songs are in my head right now, I sing them at the oddest times and my poor sister thinks I've definitely lost it when I randomly belt out "I'm Jean Valjean", "2-4-6-0-1!!!" or "Go away, Thenardier".

But after awhile this "obession" or "fandom" will cool slightly (yes m'dear Melody, this will probably be one of just a few Les Miserables related posts, :P) and I'll be off to "fangirling" about something else. Why? because as much as I like Les Miserables I like other things even better, Jane Austen's works and characters being my one true "literary love". It may sound sad but it's very true. So yes my fellow Les Miz fangirls, you have a convert, but I won't be the first to recommend the story to others ("Lovely Ladies" even if life gets tough...I'm sure you get it) or rave about it like I rave about other literary things. Is this making sense? Feels like I've killed the mood and maybe you might want to sing "Go away, Thenardier" to me right now. haha :)

Russell Crowe as Javert & Hugh Jackman as Valjean
But since I am "obsessed" right now I am finding that this is a very exciting time to be a new Les Miz fan. New photos and the first trailer from Les Miserables (2012) came out last week leaving fans is a frenzy of discussion over the actors and their voices.

Yet Another Period Drama Blog

Also Amy Dashwood and Payton Wilson are hosting a Les Miz event this very week! If you're a fan or just interested in learning more I encourage you to check out Will You Join In Our Crusade? - Les Miserables Concert Comparisons at Yet Another Period Drama Blog and Dirt and Dickens. If you also want to know which characters and concert I prefer read the comments on their blogs. :)

Are you a Les Miserables fan?
Have you read the book? Which concert versions have you seen?
What are your favorite Les Miz songs and characters?


Anonymous said...

Ahhh, Miss Laurie, I am so glad you succumbed! Even though you're not a die-hard fan like *cough* others like myself are, I'm delighted you experienced the wonder of Les Miz!!!

And thanks so much for promoting our blog series! Much appreciated. =)

I'm actually reading the book right now for the THIRD time, and loving it of course! I have seen both versions of the concert numerous times.

My favorite characters are Valjean, Javert, Enjolras, and Eponine, And Gavroche. =)

Favorite songs? Yikes. I can't narrow it down, so I won't even try!!! I love Who Am I, Confrontation, One Day More, Little Fall of Rain, Empty Chairs at Empty Tables, Come to Me, Do You Hear the People Sing, Red and Black, Every Day, Javert's Suicide, On My Own, and Bring Him Home.... basically all of them except Lovely Ladies. =) Haha!

And of course, who can forget the Epilogue. Colm Wilkinson from the 10th owns this song. When he sings "Your mother gave her life for you and gave you to my keeping" and "Forgive me all my trespasses and take me to your glory," I literally weep. Every time. *SHIVERS!!!*

Miss Dashwood said...

First off-- SO SO SO happy that you've succumbed to Ally's and my bad influence. Muwahahahahaha.

Ahem. And the WWAD MMG right merrily!
It's a shame that the 10th concert isn't more clear about the story in the last half (the 25th does do that better...) but I'm so glad you enjoyed it-- and that you watched 25th as well! Ah, and I'm so glad you appreciate the importance of the Red Vest of Power and Awesomeness. Heeheehee. :D

And I completely understand that Les Miz doesn't trump Jane Austen-- it's the same way for me! Jane Austen has the number one spot in my literary heart (with Les Miserables, Dickens and the Scarlet Pimpernel all following close behind, heehee) and will forevermore. Melody and I just had a discussion about this, in point of fact. :)

However, I do have to say that for me, Les Miz isn't an obsession or fandom that will cool slightly--because I'm even more avid a fan now than I was six months ago when I first discovered it! :D It's just not quite as well-beloved as my P&P or Emmer. ;)

So I'm not going to sing "go away, Thenardier" to you, but instead belt out, "My place is here! I fight with you!" because that's much more inspirational. :)

Thanks so much for advertising Petie's and my Les Miz comparisons, by the way!

Alexandra said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed it! You did better than me - I'm STILL trying to get through the whole book. :)

I've seen both concert versions, but I'm writing a post on them this week...so I'll save my opinion for that. :)

Anyway! So glad you liked it! :)

Elisa said...

I own a hardback, unabridged version of the novel. (Can't remember who was the publisher) It was a huge tome!
I saw the musical in Boston as an undergrad.
Film wise--there's a number of versions made. I've seen two including the one with Claire Danes.
The 25th anniversary concert has been on our local PBS station a number times--check local listings!
For those who watched "Downton Abbey" on PBS, Alfie Boe who appears in the 25th Les Miz concert, sings 2 songs on the "Downton Abbey" soundtrack!

Christine said...

Yes, I consider myself a Les Misérables fan, even though I have never watched a film/musical version of Victor Hugo's masterpiece. I would have to say that Les Misérables has been one of the most influential books in my life. It is one of the few books I have taken the time to read twice.

My favorite characters, which I liked about equally were: Cosette Fauchelevent, Marius Pontmercy, Jean Valjean, and Gavroche. I also liked Fantine, but she was in such a small portion of the book, that I thought her character got overshadowed rather quickly.

I can never understand why people like Éponine Thénardier; I have read the book twice, my sister and brother have each read it once, and we all considered her a villianess.

I hope you enjoy reading Les Misérables, Miss Laurie; and I hope you don't mind my getting a little worked up about my favorite book.

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