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.
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.