Les Mes… need I say more?

Box Office Betty: Post 2

            If you read this blog regularly, you will quickly learn that I have an obsessive personality, especially when it comes to fictional people and stories. There are several plays, musicals, books, movie, and tv shows that I love with every fiber of my being, because I empathize with the characters. Now when I say empathize, I mean that their sorrow is my devastation, their joy my jubilation. It drives my friends and family a little crazy. You don’t know how many times I’ve heard, “They’re fictional characters; they’re not real!” But it doesn’t matter to me. I care what happens to them anyways.

            Musicals, with their heart-rending ballads, are one of my biggest weaknesses, and my favorite musical, Les Misérables, is no exception. I have been known to claim that Les Misérables gives my soul meaning. Dramatic? Perhaps, but this is a theater blog, so you really can’t judge me.

Anyways, once a month, I will be reviewing a Broadway musical or play, and I’ve decided to start with the best:

(photo: London, December 2009)

            It’s hard to know where to start when discussing this show. I’ve seen it multiple times, and each time the overture starts to play, I tear up. It never fails. It’s not the sadness of the story or anything; I’m just always so excited to be seeing it. With a plot spanning decades and a huge cast of characters, Les Misérables is nothing short of epic. Although the characters often face death and despair (I mean, what else would you expect from a show title that translates to “The Miserable Ones”?), the show’s message is ultimately one of hope and beauty. The three most exalted characters, in my opinion, are Fantine, Eponine, and Jean Valjean – the ones who love unselfishly, in that they will sacrifice themselves for those they care about. Even though the plot features a bloody revolution gone awry, the choral finale reflects hope for the future:

“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.”

Amazing. After all the tragic events of the show, it ends with those lyrics. Call me a sentimental sap, but I think that’s beautiful.

            Now as you may have heard, a movie adaptation of Les Misérables is coming out this December. I, for one, am absurdly excited. Sometimes movie adaptations are unkind to the original, but in this case, I’m not worried. I mean, check out this teaser trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TRU1vt8o7o&feature=player_embedded

How gorgeous and haunting are those images? I’m going to be honest: I’ve probably watched this trailer upwards of thirty times. It looks like everything I would ever want in a movie adaptation of my favorite musical, and I’m thrilled with the cast!

I know some people have complained about Anne Hathaway’s voice on that iconic song, “I Dreamed a Dream,” but she’s playing [SPOILER ALERT] a dying prostitute. I think it’s a perfectly reasonable acting choice to sing a softer portrayal of devastation – there’s raw emotion in her performance.

            But that’s just my opinion. What do you guys think? Are you excited for the movie? Anxious about casting decisions? Weigh in with a comment below!

And don’t forget to tune in next month for a review of Titanic,the musical! (No, it has nothing to do with the movie…well, other than that whole ship sinking business.)