May’s Musical of the Month: Les Misérables

Julia Stanski, Editor

les mis barricade.jpg

As anyone will tell you, Les Mis is an absolute classic of the musical theatre canon. Known for being dramatic, French, three hours long and very very sad, it also contains some of the most gorgeous music ever written. The (extremely complex) plot follows redeemed ex-convict Jean Valjean in his quest to do good, raise an orphaned child, avoid his relentless pursuer Inspector Javert and save as many lives as possible in the failed Student Revolution of 1832. This epic tale of love, grace, justice and mercy is almost entire sung-through, and is guaranteed to tug some heartstrings.

The score is full of unforgettable songs like “Do You Hear the People Sing”, which will make you want to start your own revolution, and “On My Own”, the classic ballad of unrequited love. “Stars”, the vow of policeman Javert, is absolutely gorgeous, and “Bring Him Home” will bring you to tears.  There are lots of good recordings of Les Mis, notably the original London cast album featuring Colm Wilkinson, and the 10th anniversary cast with Phillip Quast and Lea Salonga. Be careful when watching the 2012 movie version; it take some liberties with plot and music, and not all actors are the strongest singers.  Probably your best bet is to watch the 25th anniversary concert starring Alfie Boe, Ramin Karimloo and Norm Lewis. Les Mis has converted many a skeptic to a musical theatre lover; its grandeur and melodrama are irresistibly escapist, but beautifully relevant.

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