I Love Les Mis

I’m not a professional singer. I have never studied voice. I have never performed in a musical or opera or recital. I actually am a sports-obsessed father of four who works with singers.
But I am a huge, huge fan of Les Miserables. And last night I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the musical at San Francisco’s Orpheam Theatre.
Wow. Wow. WOW!!!!

My wife and I at Les Miserable in San Francisco at the Orpheam Theatre.

I can’t comment on the technicalities of the performance, but I can tell you I loved it. Absolutely loved it.
Of course, part of my love of Les Mis is nostalgia—I have a lot of memories stemming from Les Mis. My parents raised me and my four sisters on musicals and show tunes, and Les Mis was a staple in our house. In fact, I was fortunate to see the play with my Dad and my sister when I was 12 years old in London. Ironically enough my other sports-obsessed friends all loved two musicals: Les Mis and Newsies. On road trips in high school and college it wasn’t rare to pop in the CD of Les Mis and have 5 or 6 teenaged boys booming out “One Day More”. One of my friends and I were roommates in college in Hawaii and every Sunday afternoon we’d listen to Les Mis as we wrote letters home. So I have many memories attached to this great musical.
But beyond nostalgia, the power of the story and the overarching themes of the play has always moved me, and last night was no different.
Kindness. Jean Valjean’s life is changed forever by the kindness of the Bishop Myriel. And once his life is changed, he influences countless others with the simple act of kindness. His life, in fact, is a lesson on how to treat others and how to live selflessly.
Love. “To love another person is to see the face of God.” Powerful words at the end of the play as Jean Valjean is met by Fantine and Eponine at the end of his life. Everything Jean Valjean does is motivated by love. He devoted his life to Cosette. He was willing to sacrifice everything to Marius.
Redemption. No matter where we find ourselves in life, there is hope. We can change. Life can get better. Valjean was at the depths of despair. Life was unfair and he was treated poorly. But he found hope. He didn’t give up. He fought through adversity, changed, and made a difference in the world. And while Fantine died tragically, she, too, found redemption through the love and kindness of Valjean caring for Cosette.
Agency. While there are so many things in life and in the world that are beyond our control, our attitude and our reaction is one thing we can and must control. Look at the stark contrast of how Valjean reacted to the benevolent kindness of the Bishop and how Inspector Javert reacted when Valjean spared his life behind the barricade. One chose to turn his life around; the other chose to end his.
Those are just a few of themes that struck me. With such a deep and touching story, though, I’m sure dozens of other topics would jump out at me.
Beyond the story, however, the music is powerful, moving, and emotional. Valjean was simply amazing in “Bring Him Home.” Javert was powerful with “Star”. And the entire cast was electric with “One Day More.”
Wow. Wow. WOW!!!
The night did not disappoint.
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Written by Alex Stoddard. Alex is the is the General Manager of Classical Singer & Auditions Plus. He has worked with singers and teachers for more than 8 years managing Classical Singer magazine, running the High School & University Vocal Competition, and developing Auditions Plus.


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