Placement and Staging of Musical Songs

One of the best parts found in musical are the emotions found in the songs. They are felt strongest in the songs- the songs are the first step that makes me fall in love with a musical. I think there is something about placement and the staging of the songs that can affect the emotion. I will explain below.

Placement

The perfect example of placement is found in Les Mis. “I Dreamed a Dream” is Fantine’s solo, and I have seen this particular song found in two different times of her story. Due to seeing the movie and the stage show, I know how placement can affect the songs. In the stage show, “I Dreamed a Dream” is sung before “Lovely Ladies”. With that placement, you will feel the heartbreak, but at the same time feel this kind of hope. By this moment, all that has happened to Fantine is that she got fired. So there is a little amount of hope.

Well, look what the movie decided to do: they decided to place “I Dreamed a Dream after “Lovely Ladies”. Out of all the Les Mis scenes-“Lovely Ladies” is the hardest scene to watch. By that point, Fantine has been fired, sold her locket, her hair, and turned to prostitution. That allows “I Dreamed a Dream” to be more heartbreaking. The most devastating version I saw of this song was found in the film. With that change, it allows the actress to go more in depth about the emotional nature of the song.

No matter who I get as Fantine- it is always “I Dreamed a Dream” where I really start becoming an emotional wreck.

Staging

This is another Les Mis example. “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” is about survivor’s guilt and belongs to Marius. I have seen various ways of this song staged. I think the best example given to this song belongs to the 25th anniversary production. There is just something about the candles that brings out more emotion. Literally, for the entire number, Marius is holding a lighted candle. Eventually all the students come out with a lighted candle as well, but eventually those get blown out leaving Marius all alone in the dark. I actually saw this type of staging done with two actors- Erik D’Esterre and Joshua Grosso.

While I may not exactly remember the portrayals of the Les Mis characters during the community college production, there is some staging I remember. Such as the candle example- I almost feel as if CPCC took some of their inspiration from the 25th anniversary production.

5 thoughts on “Placement and Staging of Musical Songs

  1. The decision to move “I Dreamed a Dream” for the movie was brilliant, and I was not a huge fan of the film in general (Javert is my favorite character, and I was not pleased with some of Russell Crowe’s choices). I also just saw a version of the show on tour and they did “Empty Chairs and Empty Tables” with the candles. I agree that it really added to the scene, and I actually enjoyed that show version better than the West End version!

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    • In my case for Les Mis, I loved the film. Meaning- I fell in love with the musical due to the film. For stage show, I saw the West End and the new staging- loved them both. “Empty Chairs” is much better in the 25th

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  2. There is definitely a lot of importance in how songs are staged, and when a song comes into the plot. I loved that the movie put “I Dreamed a Dream” in after “Lovely Ladies”; it packs more of an emotional punch that way. I agree about the “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” staging, too. The candles were a phenomenal touch. I think that there are a lot of ways to make “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” a hugely emotional song–in its essence, it is one already–but the use of the candles was one of the best I’ve seen!

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    • That decision to move “I Dreamed a Dream” was one of the best decisions the movie made.

      The candles so add a lot to “Empty Tables”- makes it more emotional, I think. In my opinion, I think this particular solo is probably the most devastating out of all of them

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      • I felt that the candles tied “Turning” and “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” together really well; the flow was seamless!

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