Finale (Les Mis) Analysis

The Finale of Les Mis is one of the strongest finales in musical theatre. In my opinion, it is actually one of my favorite finales found in musical theatre. If you want to PROCEED, SPOILERS. It is the final death scene in Les Mis- it is actually when Valjean dies. The Finale is full of both heartbreak and hope. This song is a reprise of “Do You Hear the People Sing”, and this time, I believe it represents heaven. Through lyrics like “Even the Darkest Night will End and the Sun will Rise” and Tomorrow Comes”, there is a lot of hope found in this song.

And remember
The truth that once was spoken
To love another person
Is to see the face of God.

Do you hear the people sing
Lost in the valley of the night?
It is the music of a people
Who are climbing to the light.

For the wretched of the earth
There is a flame that never dies.
Even the darkest night will end
And the sun will rise.

They will live again in freedom
In the garden of the Lord.
We will walk behind the ploughshare;
We will put away the sword.
The chain will be broken
And all men will have their reward.

Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?
Do you hear the people sing?
Say, do you hear the distant drums?
It is the future that they bring
When tomorrow comes!

Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?
Do you hear the people sing?
Say, do you hear the distant drums?
It is the future that they bring
When tomorrow comes!

Tomorrow comes!

The picture below is something I painted, but it does show the finale from Les Mis.

Even though Valjean does die, he is still happy at the moment. That is because he got to see Cosette one last time. It is actually on the night of Cosette’s wedding, and the same night Marius discovered that Valjean saved him from the barricade. So, Marius was able to thank Valjean for saving his life. Valjean’s redemption is so strong at this moment- Fantine’s spirit escorts Valjean to heaven and is welcomed by the Bishop, who played a huge part in Valjean’s journey.

To Love Another Person is to see the Face of God

The lyrics above are the most famous lyrics from Les Mis. Look how many people showed love in Les Mis who did die. Valjean’s love for God and Cosette; Fantine’s love for Cosette, Eponine’s love for Marius despite it being unrequited; and The Friends of the ABC’s love for each other and the country. Even though Marius and Cosette lived, they have love for each other despite losing everyone that meant something to them.

Come to Me Analysis

This is another SPOILER duet in musicals. As a matter of fact, this is the first death scene in Les Mis. You also need to understand Fantine to understand this song. Fantine has an unconditional love for her daughter, Cosette. Prior to “Come to Me”, Fantine has had a LOT of things happening to her- gotten fired, sold her locket, hair, turned to prostitution, and almost got sent to jail. Good thing Valjean intervened and helped her.

[Fantine]
Cosette, it’s turned so cold
Cosette, it’s past your bedtime
You’ve played the day away
And soon it will be night.

Come to me, Cosette, the light is fading
Don’t you see the evening star appearing?
Come to me, and rest against my shoulder
How fast the minutes fly away and every minute colder.

Hurry near, another day is dying
Don’t you hear, the winter wind is crying?
There’s a darkness which comes without a warning
But I will sing you lullabies and wake you in the morning.

[Valjean]
Oh, Fantine, our time is running out
But Fantine, I swear this on my life

[Fantine]
Look, M’sieur, where all the children play

[Valjean]
Be at peace, be at peace evermore.

[Fantine]
My Cosette…

[Valjean]
Shall live in my protection

[Fantine]
Take her now

[Valjean]
Your child will want for nothing

[Fantine]
Good M’sieur, you come from God in Heaven.

[Valjean]
And none shall ever harm Cosette
As long as I am living.

[Fantine]
Take my hand. The night grows ever colder.

[Valjean]
Then I will keep you warm.

[Fantine]
Take my child. I give her to your keeping.

[Valjean]
Take shelter from the storm

[Fantine]
For God’s sake, please stay till I am sleeping
And tell Cosette I love her
And I’ll see her when I wake…

Come to Me, Les Mis

All because of the mercy bishop gave Valjean, her learned how to show compassion to others. After hearing about what happened to Fantine, one of his former coworkers, he decided to show compassion to her. For starters, he decided to be her while he died. Second, he decided to raise Cosette as well= due to that, it gave Fantine peace and comfort for once. Valjean had to unexpectedly become a father- little did he know the impact Cosette would have on his life.

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.

CPCC- The In Between

After graduating from Fletcher, I did not want to go to Central Piedmont Community College. I really wanted to be at Gardner Webb- I knew I was meant to be there. However, I spent two years at community college, where there was actually some highlights.

Musicals

Godspell

Well, the very first musical I fell in love with during the college years was Godspell. CPCC did that production in my first semester- little did I know I would see some of those actors in future CPCC productions. What I remember about Godspell was some of the costumes: from hippie to a lady in a pink dress holding a star. My favorite song is “We Beseech Thee”. Godspell is one of two biblical musicals I love. I was recommended to watch Godspell because of my love for Stephen Schwartz.

Les Mis

Before Les Mis, I actually signed up to be an usher for CPCC. Due to that, I ended up seeing Les Mis three times (once with family and twice as an usher). I fell in love with Les Mis during my 1st year of college. CPCC did their production in November of 2013. Ryan Deal, my Valjean, was also Jesus in Godspell. Yes, this was a community college production, but I called it phenomenal. Halton Theater has both an orchestra and balcony- the orchestra is deep (I was sitting in row Q near the center when I saw Les Mis with my family). CPCC’S production of Les Mis was truly the motor for wanting to see the musical in London. Because of CPCC, I was able to start doing more in theater than just being in the audience.

For an extra credit assignment for my communication class, I ended up critiquing the actress, who played Eponine. That was because I really was still puzzled on why I love the character in the first place. Les Mis did start this pattern of seeing Les Mis every other year- each year was seen in different theaters (from Halton to Queen’s to Peace Center to Ovens). The reason why I saw the stage show six times was due to ushering.

Some Enchanted Evening

Once again, I was an usher. It is basically a concert that showcases songs from Rodgers and Hammerstein. My 2nd show I saw at Halton. This wouldn’t be the last time I saw some musical theatre production at CPCC. Those other musicals would happen after Gardner Webb.

Volunteering

I did end up volunteering. I was part of a service club, participated in Martin Luther King Day, and went on Alternative Spring Break. Martin Luther King Day means you literally show up at CPCC, and you are randomly assigned a service project- so you have to show up prepared for anything. Alternative Spring Break happened in Atlanta, Georgia: that was a mission trip. We did some things outside of volunteering: like visiting the Georgia Aquarium.

Classes

Why would I put down classes as one of the highlights? Well, there are some classes I am so glad I took at CPCC. My first round of history was one of them- I had to take my 2nd history class with Gardner Webb: their Western Civilization classes are much harder than CPCC’s. So at least I got one out of the way. I don’t know what made me take this class- psychology (that would eventually lead to taking Sociology at Gardner Webb).

In some ways, I learned more about acting in my Communications class: they did offer some extra credit assignments. One of which was to critique a sermon: I literally had to ask “can I critique an actor instead of a sermon”. Well, guess what- I did critique an actor: during Les Mis. The reason why I choose the actress, who played Eponine (Kayla Ferguson), was because I still could not quite understand why I even loved that character.

Musicals- the 2nd Round

Oklahoma

By this point, I already graduated from Gardner Webb. But, I still decided to see musicals at CPCC. After all, their musicals are always well-done. They combine students with professionals with the community. Oklahoma was a theater date with mom: we got seats in the balcony. Actors/actresses did move sets, which went smoothly. Two actors I had seen in Godspell were Laurey and Will Parker. People think Oklahoma is just about this dance social: but it actually is truly a love story between Curly and Laurey. Like any Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, there was a 2nd romance. Both of the couples were part of a love triangle. In addition, it is also about Oklahoma becoming a state.

Fun fact: Ashton Guthrie, who played Curly, would end up in another summer CPCC musical.

Grease

This time around, I went to see Grease with my sister and one of our friends. Once again, actors moved set pieces, which did flow smoothly. CPCC did get permission to use songs that were originally not part of the stage show. I just knew how different the stage show was when I heard the first song. There were a couple of new songs I never knew existed in Grease.

Newsies

Well, I had already seen Newsies by this point, but not with CPCC. I really wanted to see Newsies at CPCC, but as it got closer to when Newsies was playing at CPCC, It did feel like I wouldn’t see it. There was no sign of my parents getting tickets. When the last day of the production happened, I literally believed I wouldn’t be seeing the CPCC production.

However, things would come unexpected. One of my best friends from Gardner Webb just shown up at my house. I thought we were just going to go shopping. On the drive, she did ask what do you want to today: “I really wanted to see Newsies”. Guess what happened- the two of us ended up in the Will Call Line to pick up Newsies tickets. As a matter of fact, my friend hadn’t seen a stage show in years- so at intermission when the lights got on, she thought the show was over. I had to say, that is what happens at intermission: the lights go up.

Ashton Guthrie was Jack Kelly- I already saw him as Curly. Here is what I really loved about the casting of Crutchie: he was an actor of color. Jack and Crutchie are my favorite Newsies because of the intimate and deep bond those two have. The towers were still there, but had to be moved by actors/actresses: still flowed smoothly. While Joey Barreiro still remains my favorite Jack Kelly, Ashton was able to add a since of maturity in Jack. Jack is the Newsies leader so the mature nature I saw from Ashton worked for the character. I still felt innocence coming from the character- which did not show up until “Something to Believe In”. Like any CPCC musical, well-done. This was actually her graduation present to me: the best I had.

Due to seeing three CPCC productions over the summer, I was able to see five musicals in 2018: the other two were with Blumenthal.

Five Years Ago- A Dream

Well, what is hard to believe is that I was in England five years ago. My family arrived on July 29th. When we landed in London, I did not even believe I was actually in London. It took until seeing West End fliers that I actually knew for a fact we were there. One of the first things we did was get some coffee at Costa Coffee. We ended up being the same Costa my family would be meeting the rest of the 72 pilgrims: just so we would know where that was.

However, what is exactly the significance about July 30th, 2015. That was the day when it actually felt like my family was doing something. It all began on Platform 9 and 3/4 and getting Harry Potter souvenirs. After getting some lunch and visiting Paddington Station, we had to go back to our hotel. For the 29th and the 30th, my family stayed at a nicer hotel.

We had to go back kind of early to the hotel. That was really important for my mom and I. That summer, my mom and I already had one theater date: to Pippin at Blumenthal’s Belk Theater. But on July 30th, my mom and I had a 2nd theater date. This time, I was seeing a musical in The West End, but it was Les Mis. I think things came full circle from the time I saw Wicked on Broadway to the time when I saw Les Mis in the West End. My family had to get back to the hotel kinda of early afternoon to get dressed and to figure out how to get to The West End from our hotel.

There are multiple things I loved about that night. I am glad that my sister and dad got their own date. My sister is not into musical theater like I am. My mom loved musicals growing up- that is why we have been to as many theater dates we do. For another- this actually happened one day before the actual Bristol Pilgrimage. Still, how did this production end up being in 2015, two years after seeing the stage show for the first time. Well, I didn’t start convincing my parents to take me to Les Mis in 2013- there was no sign yet of going up early. But I was told it would be two days early November of 2014, but it was December of 2014 when I was told I would see a show in The West End: but which was it. I had to wait until June 2015 to figure that out: my mom texted me French Flag and Musical note Emojis, and I was confused. I then was told to check my email, and the moment I read Les Misérables, I ran up to my mom crying.

Well, the moment I saw the Queen’s Theater, it felt surreal. From that to buying souvenirs to noticing how close I was to seeing the set, nothing felt real. But the moment I saw that I heard the the first notes of the orchestra- I knew for a fact that this dream was becoming reality. Those first notes also told me that this production will be more than expected. I had one cultural shock in the West End: buying the playbill- I am so used to being handed the playbill at the door: not buying it.

“I Dreamed a Dream”

Since I am so used to the US Terms, I barely use the word Stalls to describe where I was seating. My mom and I were in the 9th row from the stage. I actually had an understudy this night= for Valjean. Little did I know I would see some of those actors again- just not in person.

My West End Cast:

Valjean-Adam Bayjou (understudy)

Javert- Jeremy Secomb

Fantine-Rachelle Ann Go

Cosete- Zoe Doano

Marius- Rob Houchen

Eponine- Carrie Hope Fletcher

Enjolras- Bradley Jaden

Thenardiers- Phil Daniels and Katy Secombe

My thoughts on the Cast:

This cast was brilliant. They literally were more than expected: that ranges from the ensemble to the principal actors. I might have had an understudy as Valjean, but it never felt that way. This cast will always be special to me due to living a dream with them. At curtain call, I never stand up until a lead comes, but this time, I stood up right away. This cast was actually my 2nd stage show- but 4th cast all together: that is if you include the film and 25th concert. Les Mis means a lot- Wicked might have sparked a love, but Les Mis transformed that love into a passion. Growing up I did not know the West End existed- it actually was Central Piedmont Community College’s production that ended up being the motor for wanting to see Les Mis in London. I never really get to see Big Name actors/actresses- usually I see actors that are not Big Names, but have the potential to become one.

There was something that was really new about this production. In the past, I NEVER found common ground or sympathy for Javert. But when I saw Jeremy Secomb as Javert, I finally could feel that sympathy that was missing. That is a huge reason why Adam Bayjou/Jeremy Secomb was my strongest Valjean/Javert dynamic so far. Well, my strongest love triangle dynamic was found in London as well: I find it interesting that your strongest dynamic for a subplot may not individually consist of your favorite actors/actresses for a character. That was the case for my West End love triangle.

Before this production, I already knew who these characters were. After all, I spent a lot of time watching the film, reading the book, and researching the musical. I already knew who I had an emotional connection with: Valjean, Fantine, Eponine, and Enjolras and the students- those are my core favorite characters. I started being an emotional wreck right after Valjean was released- and that lasted till the end. There were emotions I felt in characters that was never felt before. I think I know why: it wasn’t just because of the actors, but due to reading the unabridged book the same summer and living a dream were huge reasons why.

Here is what I did after seeing the West End Production. I made the decision to not compare future casts to these actors. That would be unfair especially if you have an understudy. In addition, you wouldn’t be able to see the casts for who they are. The US Tour followed after- in 2017 and 2019. I originally thought it was in the West End where I was the most taken off guard, but it wasn’t. It actually was found within the US Tour. Here is what is fascinating about three of my stage casts- my 2015/2017/2019 casts all had an understudy: Adam Bayjou as Valjean, Talia Simone Robinson as Eponine, and Andrew Maughan as Valjean.

The love triangle sure took things for a turn in 2017/2019: usually, Eponine is the strongest actor or ends up being just as good as Marius, but not in the US Tour. Due to who I had as Marius and Cosette- Joshua Grosso and Jillian Butler, I was able to explore Marius and Cosette at a much deeper level. Especially who I had as Marius: Joshua actually made that character almost a core favorite. I saw these two paired with two Eponine actresses- it was interesting seeing how the love triangle could change with just one character.

How many Les Mis casts do I have? I have eight Les Mis casts- the film, 25th concert, community college, West End, US Tour- 2017/2019, 2019 Concert in Cinemas, and 10th concert. Who the Les Mis characters became is a combo of book/musical/my actors/actresses. It is kinda of odd bringing up the film and the 2019 concert- I experienced both in cinemas, but my opinion of Les Mis was different. When I first saw the film, I literally did not know how to respond, react, or feel: I wasn’t told Les Mis was a tragedy so that why I would go- I was no where close to being an emotional wreck. By the time I saw the 2019 concert in cinemas- I already was an emotional wreck and already obsessed with Les Mis. In some ways, I might have a 9th cast- if I decide to include the PBS Masterpiece Series.

Let me just say who my favorite actor for these characters are:

Valjean- can’t decide

Javert- Jeremy Secomb

Fantine- hard decision

Cosette- Jillian Butler

Marius- Joshua Grosso

Eponine- Samantha Barks (has the advantage of being first)

Enjolras- literally, like ALL Enjolras actors are fantastic

Thenardiers- Katy Secombe and Phil Daniels

Conclusion

Still can’t believe I was in London five years ago. As souvenirs I got the playbill (that was a cultural shock), poster, and a t-shirt. It actually was fitting that I saw Les Mis in London- the next day, the Bristol Pilgrimage would begin. So went from Valjean’s spiritual journey to my own. So, some of my favorite actors for these characters might seem puzzling, but you still have to keep in mind I live in the US.