Posts Tagged ‘Les Miserables’

New Adventures

This week has started off with two new new opportunities.  First, the casting results of the Village Players’ production of The Sound of Music.  I will be playing the role of Franz, the butler.  At first I was unsure of how I felt about that… Dejected, miscast?  I told me voice coach that I was really unsure.  Of course, this is knowing the film as well as I do.  It seemed that I would have very limited stage time.  However this morning, I researched the stage role and learned that Franz is in significantly more of the original stage version.  And I am determined to create yet another memorable role.

Although I have no idea of much of the cast I do know that Mare has been cast as the Mother Superior.  Anyone who knows her and the role would think that they two were tailor-made.  A very formidable presence on-stage with a  crazy powerful voice.  I am also happy to welcome Jessica and her daughter, Melody to the group.  Jessica played Gretl in high school and will be playing one of  the nuns this time.  Melody has been cast as Louisa.  CONGRATS ladies!

This morning, I was asked to begin contributing to a new blog which my pal has initiated as part of the group he began over the past year.  I will be providing my own personal views on the Catholic faith I was born into and have chosen to follow over my 39 years.  While C is still diligently searching for a new congregation to lead, he has started Disciple Day, a group initiated to help spread the good news.  It began back in September with the inaugural Famine Games and moved onto the adventurous “Slip ‘n’ Slide into the New Year” and just finished a makeover night given by a group of wild and crazy cool young ladies.

All this, plus, I am plowing my way through the 1463 page complete and unabridged Les Miserables.  I bought my copy back in the Spring of 1994 right before I went on tour with the BGSU Men’s Chorus where I first saw the stage version on Broadway.  Over that time, I have tried to make my way through it at least twice.  I think this time, I have been pacing myself and for whatever reason I am enjoying it more (although some of the long passages exploring Paris…. Napoleon, etc…. at the time can be a bit dry).

Check out the new site and come and check out The Sound of Music March 1-3!  And SEE the best stage to screen musical adaptation ever!

Les Misérables Remastered

SO GLAD Megan could get tickets!  Back in June, I learned that the 25 Anniversary of Les Misérables was making its way to the Stranahan.  I did not forget but with all the eventful events surrounding my family the past few months, it kind of took a back seat.  However, Megan was able to score us a trio of seats for tonight’s show.  I was willing to drive which at times met with some rather humorous moments from young Miss Clark (“OMG WE ARE GOING TO DIE!”).  Even walking to the theatre parking lot after the show.  MWHAHAHAHAHA!

We made excellent time even with my capable driving.  We got a bit of dinner with an hour to spare before curtain.  The show was even more spectacular than I remember. I last saw a high school production about 3-4 years ago and saw a professional production (it had to be) about 10 years ago at the Stranahan.  There were several changes made in the staging, scenery, and lyrics which all combined to enhance what was already one of my favorite shows.

Immediately noticeable was the changing of the backdrop pre-show.  It had previously been a drawing of the young Cosette with her broom.  It has been replaced by a Victor Hugo painting.  I did not know that the author of the original novel as well as The Hunchback of Notre Dame was also an artist.  Gone also were the captions indicating the time and location of the story.  These were not needed as the action just moved at a steady clip.

The revolving platform that had previously been used in productions was also noticeably absent.  Instead, different levels of perspective were used to heighten the drama.  Marius sang the beginning of “A Heart Full of Love” to the mature Cosette from the ground while his love stood on her balcony (think Tony and Maria or Romeo and Juliet).  Later, the audience could “see” Valjean carry the wounded Marius through the different sections of the sewers.  Finally, Javert falls back and is enveloped by the water as he falls to his death.  A brilliant re-imagining of a classic theatrical event!

After the show, the three of us had our picture taken with M. and Mme. Thénardier (who as usual stole the show).  We lined up and (also as Usual) I was relegated to the back but go right between the charming couple.  As you may recall, I performed “Master of the House” with Carol at a recital last spring.  How I would relish the opportunity to play the role in a full scale production.  I will post the picture as soon as Carol makes a copy.

The drive home was fun as well.  After stopping at a gas station before getting on the turnpike for a drink (again after Megan made her patented quip about dying), we popped in the new LIVE anniversary recording.  As we approached our drop off point  I heard “TURN LEFT! TURN LEFT! NO, KEEP GOING!  KEEP GOING!”  HAHHAH!  Sorry…at least I did not mention how many times the lovely ladies had to visit the powder room 😉  (oops)

I also learned for future reference that a high school classmate of mine live a short distance away from the theatre.  A handy tidbit for those times when we have to go dashing through the snow like a few years ago on Good Friday.

Thanks Megan and Carol! 😀

Now that I know how to put accents above letters in words like Misérables and Thénardier, I cannot stop myself.  Such a fantastic show!  A silver screen version of the musical Les Misérables is soon to start filming with Hugh Jackman as Valjean, Russell Crowe as Javert, Anne Hathaway as Fantine, Geoffrey Rush as Thénardier, and Helena Bonham Carter as Mme. Thénardier.  Set for a 2012 release.  If they ruin the show with the translation to the screen, I will not be happy!

About Time

NOTHING beats the sheer spectacle of a live theatrical performance.  However, when those of us do not live within reasonable driving distance to take in a professional show less than occasionally and scraping the $100+ for a single ticket… WELL…. Fifty years ago or so many of the bigger shows would be given the big screen treatment at “Affordable prices.”  However, the popularity of the movie musical has all but gone by the wayside.  There is the occasional offering… Chicago (good), Evita (ok, I suppose), and The Phantom of the Opera (not so ok).

It was announced today that a cinematic treatment of Schoenberg and Boublil’s Les Miserables (really, is there any other?) is finally in the works.  “In the works” insofar as the announcement that Hugh Jackman is attached to the project and a screenplay is being written. Wolverine as the “pup” Gavroche… I can see it now… with an Australian accent.   Of course, I have heard that the musical has been in development for ten years or more and we got nothing more than a Liam Neeson starring flick that “is not the musical” and I have not seen. So, we will see if this comes to fruition.

Until then, the musical itself is coming to the area in November!

Sharing the Stage with a Monkey

Tonight was my first recital EVER and the first time I have been on a stage since I graced the halls of Baskerville Hall WAAAAAAAAY back in October.  Last Thursday, K was not sure where in the program of 12 students she wanted to put CC and I.  When I arrived at the Little Theatre, I found out that we would be last!  “Who would want to follow you?” she asked.  WOW!

I have always, ALWAYS, ALWAYS wanted to perform the showstopping “Master of the House” from Les Miserables and I am so glad that it was the piece I chose to do.  Not to worry, plenty of other things I want to do, too. In the context of a recital, the song lends itself beautifully to a bit of audience participation.  I needed two “Monsieurs” to come in at various times during the song.   One was a fellow student (named Davy Jones) who was more than willing to fill the bill.  The other was a little (or more so) hesitant about the bit since he had no advance knowledge.  But happily, he played along.  Thanks justj!  I do think the guillotine in my old age would be the way to go.

If I had one critique, it is the size of the stage we performed on.  The other 11 participants were all seated upstage and all the equipment limited the amount of movement I could do.  I could always do more with the song no matter the size of the stage… so not really complaining!

The end result was EXTRAORDINARY! An audience member said that I was “the best Thenardier” she had ever seen.  I’m not sure how the other 11 did but they sounded good.  CC and I were in the green room until it was our turn.  Kind of a grand introduction if you will.  Either that or she did not want a slovenly innkeeper and his wife slopping up the stage the entire time 😉

Thank you CC, justj, Monkeyman, and K for making my first recital super!  And in all the excitement prior to heading for the theatre, I forgot to take my rat poison but did take it before typing the post.

Many Mumbling Mice Were Making Midnight Music In The Moonlight Mighty Nice.

Today was my third voice lesson (last week’s session was cancelled).  I can see that these weekly meetings are going to be very fun and extremely rewarding.  The first few moments are devoted to warming up the instrument.  Quite similar to an athlete stretching his muscles in order to prevent injury.  Went through two exercises which I am very accustomed to but the third was nothing short of a tongue-twister.  I asked my coach to write that one down.

I did a bit of sight-singing to begin.  I believe that I have mentioned my desire to one day have the chance to play M. Thenardier the sleazy innkeeper of Les Miserables.  I can see why I have not until today taken a look at “Master of the House.”  The music is quite the road map.  I will have to listen to the recording and figure out where it leads, but it will be quite fun when it is figured out.  Anyone who would like to take on the role of the equally sleazy Madame Thenardier… the song is a two person study in character hilarity.  Could even stand a small chorus of inn lodgers.

I then returned to “If I Can’t Love Her” from Beauty and the Beast.  I looked through the Miss Saigon selections for “Thuy’s Death” piece but it must not be included in the book.  I will have to continue listening to some of the Conductor’s pieces.  And go through my other books for some good character work.

All too quickly, the half-hour came to an end.  However, before leaving I learned that a five-year-old lad is a Buckeye fan much to the “delight” of his mother.  He is going to go to OSU when he gets bigger.  This delighted the fan of the Place Up North since she would have to pay out of state tuition.

And Remember The Truth That Once Was Spoken

To Love Another Person

Is to See the Face of God

This morning, the family lost another member to the most hateful word in the English lexicon: cancer.  Aunt Carol has been valiantly battling the disease for a number of years until the last few months when she was house-ridden and given home health care.  This morning between 11 and 12, the phone rang once and then quit.  However it was enough time for the ID to display the caller.  It was enough for me to realize that it could not be good news and they forgot that Mom was on her Kindergarten bus route.  Shortly after noon, Alicia and Stacy came to the house and the tears began.   She passed around 9.30 with both of the girls by her side.

It finally hit home for me at work tonight.  I was in the back by myself and I just realized how soon following Emily’s passing that Aunt Carol succumbed.  One week exactly from 16 months.  Two extraordinary women who passed away much too soon.  Carol was 53.  Emily was exactly one month from her 60th birthday.

Thoughts and prayers to Carol’s family.

The World’s Most Popular Musical

And for very good reason.  Who would have though that a high school in small, rural Northwest Ohio could stage a production of Les Miserables and for a lot of it make you forget that you were indeed watching a high school production in small, rural Northwest Ohio.  I have previously seen two professional productions of the show  and I can say with certainty that the young men and women involved in this did not miss the mark by much.  I cannot even begin to state who was the best performer on stage.

At the end of Val Jean’s signature piece (“Bring Him Home”), the actor was positively shaking from the emotion of the song.  Megan and I were in the back of the balcony and I could see his hands trembling as he knelt beside Marius in prayer.  GOOD STUFF!

Poor Eponine playing the part of the best friend who longs to be with the handsome Marius.  I always thought that she got a raw deal.  Her duet with Marius (“A Little Fall of Rain”) always sends chills down my spine.  Cosette (the character) is not all that much… kind of plain Jane and boring if you ask me.

I always find it difficult who to root for in this show.  I can see and understand the frustration Inspector Javert goes through as he tries again and again over 27 years to capture Jean Val Jean and bring him to justice.  Another amazing performance.

Fantine’s on stage time may be brief but her role within the show as a whole is vital.  One could see the anguish she felt as she struck out at her would-be “customer” and sold her locket and hair to make money for her daughter.

BUT… the real stars of the show… the reason I told Megan that I would sit through another performance… THE THENARDIER’S…WHOOO HOOOO. Forget Val Jean.  Javert take a hike.  Cosette, Marius, and Eponine…eh.  The owners of the inn are comedic villains at their finest and the high school students who gave life to them were remarkable.  “Master of the House” is bar none the best all-out, give it everything you got number in any musical I can think of.  Les Miserables with all its high drama, teary eye moments would fall flat if these characters were not performed well.  The accent of M. Thenardier was sleaze from the first line.  His sneaky, weasly, movements across the stage were stupendous.  The couple’s waltz at the end of the show  also was a highlight.

As I said, I could not put a finger on any one performance in the show.  There were different levels of brilliance displayed by all of the young stars on the stage tonight.  It really took the concept of a “high school musical” to a whole new dimension.

On This Night Of A Thousand Stars

Last night was the theatre’s (check out the new and improved website) annual awards night and it was filled with comedy, excitement, and a few tears.  The group lost a great asset this year and there was a fine tribute given in her honor by the interim president… very few dry eyes remained after that.  Conveniently, our fantastic host chose this moment to have an intermission. I think it was a fantastic touch to honor a lady who along with her husband have added so much to our group.

One of the highlights of the evening was a skit showcasing some of the characters from the past season as well as inserting themes from a 2002 production of A Christmas Carol which I was not a part of but have heard a great deal about.  This was also written by the talented MC who also provided a series of Jib-Jab videos on the projection screen for even more hilarity.

Another bit of humor was provided by the adorable couple who entertained with a parody of the song “One Day More” from the musical Les Miserables.

Overall, each of the awards were very well received.  However, I must say that i am biased when it comes to the special awards given out.  Justj and Carol each continue to go totally above and beyond.  J has been our unofficial videographer for several productions and single-handedly repaired the large, leaky roof which was so prominent during our summer production.

I would say that Carol is one of several ladies who act as honorary mothers to the group.  I had the profound honor of working with her backstage during The Nerd in September.  She was a great help in bringing the food used on stage, cleaning up cottage cheese, and helping keep a certain young boy under control backstage.  Both of these honorees exemplify the hard work and dedication necessary to keep a small community theatre afloat.

This brings me to daughter of one of these award winners (and she knows this is coming).  The director of the upcoming production of Over the Tavern is looking for someone to fill the role of the 16 year-old daughter, Annie.  Megan is about to turn 21; however, those around her and especially myself (as she will attest) feel that she would be wonderfully cast.  She agreed to read the script but made sure to voice her concern that she has at least one evening class during the week.  I proceeded to remind her that she bailed on our trip to Florida in October but the play is right in town and I’m sure the director would work around her if she fit the part.  Megan has constantly said that she has wanted to get back on stage and this would be a fine opportunity 😉  Ok… i think that is enough prodding.  Anyone else care to join in?  Maybe this will encourage her to comment.

Finally, the evening wrapped up after a group of us again congregated at the host’s home.  I have not laughed and had such a good time in awhile.  i also got to see many friends I have not seen in quite a while including a former co-worker whom I have not seen since last New Years.

It Was The Best Of Times…

Recently while reading an email from playbill.com, I discovered that Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities has been made into a new musical. This is not the first time one of the at least seventeen novels has been musically staged. The Pickwick Papers was staged in London as Pickwick in 1965 and was most notable for the song, “If I Ruled the World.” A Christmas Carol has had several incarnations over the years. Dickens’ unfinished novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, also enjoyed success on Broadway in the 1980s. Drood is interesting because, like the novel, it was left unfinished leaving the audience to cast their votes upon whom the murderer is (another possibility for audience participation in theatre productions). Of course, the most popular musical based on a Dickens’ novel is Oliver!

It has been sometime since I have read A Tale of Two Cities. I do remember the character of Madame DeFarge (by name alone but she must be a memorable character). But, like Les Miserables, it is set during the time of the French Revolution. Reading some of the reviews from premiere stagings at the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota, Florida it sounds like it could enjoy a decent run in New York (if not it will be “the worst of times” for those involved). You can read a synopsis of the show and listen to songs from the show at the website.

You can get tickets to see the new musical or other shows at TicketsNow Homepage

A Few Of MY Favorite Things

My introduction to musical theatre was in the first grade as I sat in the high school gymnasium watching a performance of a Rodgers and Hammerstein show that I will come to later. Let me just say I was forever changed at that early age. I have to say that I enjoy a musical even more than a regular play because not only do they tell a story through dialog and action but also through music. The best musicals use that music to progress the rest of the action on stage… becoming a character all its own. Some of the greatest musicals also have a third component that I shudder to mention: d-d-d-d-ance (?) or as I prefer to call it stylized movement.

The following is a list of musicals that have found a permanent place within me. I would not necessarily say they were my “favorite.”

I just know I am forgetting at least one.

Broadways Best at Amazon.com