Crumbs of Humble Piety
Written by: Matt
It's no secret amongst my closest buddies that I'm a bit of a musical theatre fan and, despite being captain of the Rugby team, I still can't shake off the stigma of the stereotype. Still, for the oppurtunity to go and see shows of the highest quality, I accept it.
Recently, I was lucky enough to go and see a production of Les Miserables, the longest running West End show. The West End is the equivalent of Broadway in New York, and just as spectuacular, with enough there to occupy you on a day out and then an outstanding trip to see a brilliant show in the evening. It's an excellent, though admittedly expensive, day out.
Les Miserables follows the story of the French Revolution. Idealistic students fight a way against the monarchists in the middle of a French street. The story begins as a prisoner gains his parole but struggles to find a job, so resorts to stealing silver from the bishop who puts him up. He realises how dirty his life has been up to now, so vows to turn over a new leaf. This cryptic opening leads us into the start of the main story: Paris, and the poverty within the bawdy factories where we gain the slightest glimpse of revolution.
In the very first article I wrote for the Pink Ink, I said that Blood Brothers is by far my favourite musical, and if there was any one that came close, it would be this. The music in it is just so moving. During the big numbers such as One Day More and Do You Hear the People Sing at the end of the first act, you just feel inspired and as though you want this new world. However, at the same time, more tender songs make you feel just as involved in the action. The second act takes you on an emotional rollercoaster, filling you with sorrow at the deaths of some of the major characters, with disgust for war, and almost a sense of resolution at the end.
Of course, without a good cast the songs are nothing, and every member of the cast was a strong singer when I was lucky enough to go and see it. From the traitor, Javert, to the leading man, Val Jean, I can feel that every emotion is brought up in their faces and voices. I particularly loved the youngest member of the ensemble, Gavroche. Being about 12 years old is hard enough at the best of times, but being able to command an entire audience is just marvellous. His final scene is so moving, and he pulls it off perfectly. It would have been so difficult to over-act, but the young actor who played it when I went fit the role of the 'cheeky chappy revolutionist' to a tee.
I always try to find something slightly negative to say at the end of each of my columns, and I think this time it would probably be the over-reliance on music. Some stages you feel that music is just there because they can do it, especially when Fantine sells herself. That would work just as well, if not better, as a spoken number and the weak music just trivialises the saga she's going through. Still, when this is the worst part of a musical, it's pretty good.
I don't get to go to the theatre enough living in such a remote part of the country, so each time I do it is something special, and Les Miserables is certainly that. You come out of it moved, empassioned and intrigued; as well as singing along to the catchy lyrics.
Why can't they make them like this any more.
Matt is the kind of person you don't want to bump into in a dark alley.