Journey with Les Mis- the Best Way

Well, so many people on this blog know I am obsessed with Les Mis. I actually know an incredible way to show that journey. I actually experienced the musical twice in cinemas- film and 2019 London staged concert. Well, the difference has nothing to do with cast. It has more to do with what I thought about the musical. That probably makes more sense once I explain.

The Film- First Experience

It was December 2012. I actually came into Les Mis unsure what to think of it. I only knew one song (“I Dreamed a Dream”, and was aware of two actresses- Amanda Seyfried and Anne Hathaway (here’s what I didn’t know- I actually knew about a third- I was raised on Harry Potter films, so Helena Bonham Carter was the third, but didn’t know it).

There were certain things I was blind to. This first experience was the most negative experience I ever had with the musical. My parents initially kept me blind that Les Mis was a tragedy. If I had known, I probably wouldn’t have gone. But once I figured that out, I did not know to react, feel or even respond. I wasn’t even close to being an emotional wreck. Due to that, I did completely forget about what I what I thought of the actors, actresses, and characters.

I came away from the film saying TOO DEPRESSING, but still had “Do You the People Sing” stuck in my head. So I couldn’t figure out if I loved Les Mis or not. What was weird was that soon after, I started researching the musical.

2019 London Stage Concert- In Cinemas

By this point, already saw the film so many times I had to buy a 2nd copy, seen the 25th concert maybe more than twenty times, and saw the stage show six times. I think that does say something about my love for that musical. Les Mis is why I am passionate about musicals. It actually was after the 2013 Central Piedmont Community College where I formed a dream for seeing it in the West End. That came true July 30th, 2015 with understudy (Adam Bayjou) as Valjean. Went to stage door and met the actor who played Valjean.

Let me actually compare and contrast the two experiences with the film and this particular concert. The first time, negative experience, not emotional wreck, and did not quite interpret Les Mis the right way. Something tells me I must have been connected somehow to at least one character- now that I think of it, most likely it was Fantine and the students. I say that because I knew about “I Dreamed a Dream” and was stuck with “Do You the People Sing” in my head. I subconsciously was most likely attached to even more. Giving the film a 2nd chance was key—I do know that was when I formed an emotional connection to Eponine.

As for the 2019 concert, I had no choice but to see it in Cinemas due to living in the US. This time was not a negative experience, but positive. I already became a massive fan of the musical and massive fan of musicals. There are a lot of memories in between- the times seeing the stage show. This concert was my first experience of seeing a concert of Les Mis in cinemas. What was interesting is that the concert had actors/actresses I had seen once before-part were my West End cast, and the other repeats the 25th concert.

Just like expected- the staged concert made me an emotional wreck, and just like usual “I Dreamed a Dream” was the first moment where I literally was in tears- no actress had failed at that. After, still continued to feel that that way. Here is what is incredible- my mom and I had three Les Mis dates: West End, US Tour 2019, and Staged Concert. So how did I go from this not liking Les Mis to developing a strong and massive love for Les Mis? My emotional response was built up over time- eventually becoming an emotional wreck.

Simply put, I had a lot of repeats in 2019: it was not just the staged concert where that happened, but the US Tour as well.

So…..

Look at my 1st experience with the film- negative and not really becoming a fan of Les Mis. By being confused and not knowing how to feel or react. I did not even know from that I would eventually see it again. That very first time-no where close to being an emotional wreck. It was a 2nd chance- if that didn’t happen Les Mis wouldn’t be a part of my life and would have no idea The West End existed.

Then, by the time the 2019 Concert in cinemas happened, I already had a lot of experiences with Les Mis. At Central Piedmont Community College, West End, and the US Tour. Had seen the film so many times that I had to buy a 2nd copy and seen the 25th more than 20 (I think). So, from not really a fan to being obsessed with it was something I NEVER expected. I really believed I would not be a fan of tragedies, but Les Mis decided to prove me wrong. There are times when I feel like Les Mis was supposed to enter my life- even the timing worked.

5 thoughts on “Journey with Les Mis- the Best Way

  1. Falling in love with Les Miz was a journey for me as well. I didn’t really care for it very much at first, but some parts of it really stuck with me and I eventually really fell in love with it. Now, it’s easily one of my favorite musicals ever and I can’t imagine not loving it!

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    • I really can’t imagine my life without Les Mis. Crazy how it takes a 2nd chance to change everything and rest ends up being history

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  2. I had a similar journey with Les Mis, just maybe a little faster. When the movie came out, my Mom really wanted to see it but I dragged my feet because I was convinced that it would be too depressing and I’d hate it. She eventually dragged me to the movie theatre anyway, and I became immediately OBSESSED. Within a month or so I’d watched both the 1oth and 25th anniversary concerts and listened to as many other cast recordings I could find (I specifically remember hearing the OBC and the Symphonic Recording). Within six months, I’d read the unabridged (but translated) novel and fell in love with that, too. I actually ended up writing one of my big college research papers on Victor Hugo and Les Mis. Seeing Les Mis live was literally the only specific item I had on my bucket list, and now I’ve done that (I saw the touring production last year, and it was fantastic). I think part of the reason I love it so much is that it’s sad, but it’s a hopeful sad instead of a downtrodden sad.

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    • Well, will go more in detail about my journey with Les Mis.

      For whatever reason, right after seeing Les Mis the film, a day or a few weeks later just started researching the musical. Eventually, I decided to give the movie a 2nd chance- that is when I began to have an emotional connection and truly fell in love with Les Mis.

      Being curious about why I felt uplifted: more researching. Listening to the songs on Pandora. Then Summer 2013 hit, and was officially obsessed. I don’t know what part of the year this was, but one day we were in target near the electronics and movies: my mom said “will you find it”. I did not quite understand, but once she said “you know”, I knew it was Les Mis.

      Then in November of that same year, the community college I was at did a production of Les Mis- I went both with my family and as an usher. That production was the motor for developing my dream of seeing Les Mis in London. It was December of 2013 when I first watched the 25th concert.

      Well, what do you know: 2015 comes along and my family was going on a Bristol Pilgrimage with my church. First read the unabridged book. That Pilgrimage began in London. So my family went up two days early: it was July 30th when I saw the West End Production (with understudy Valjean).

      Then this happened: in September of 2017, the US Tour was launched. Had to decide between seeing Les Mis in Greenville with my university or in Charlotte with my mom. Went with Gardner Webb- so Greenville and it was nice being back at Peace Center. Understudy for Eponine.

      Well, 2019 was when the US Tour decided to come back to Charlotte. Went with my mom (2nd date to Les Mis: we did go the London production together). Can’t believe this happened: but just like 2017, Josh Davis (Javert), Jillian Butler (Cosette,) Joshua Grosso (Marius), Matt Shingledecker (Enjolras), and Allison Guinn were still part of my cast. Understudy for Valjean.

      Saw the stage show every other year. Still hard to describe in full why I love Les Mis. Love how despite being heartbreaking, still is uplifting and inspiring

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