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|
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|
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|
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|
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?