Friday, March 29, 2013

Les Miserables: From Book, To Musical, To Movie

In 1985, I moved from Atlanta, Georgia to Anchorage, Alaska.  Around that time, I saw a segment on the news show "20/20" about a new musical which had come out and was gaining popularity called "Les Miserables."  Based on Victor Hugo's 1862 novel involving post-revolutionary France  I became immediately fascinated with the story, and knew I had to see it.

Several years later (around 1988), a new performance hall had been built in downtown Anchorage.  Musicals that had only been available to those visiting large cities such as New York or London were frequenting various theaters (sorry Isabelle - theatres). Touring groups were now making these musicals available to the masses.  "Cats" was the first musical to visit the performance hall.    I and my girlfriend took our trip to this music hall to see our first "Broadway" musical.  At some point prior to "Cats" beginning, I glanced at the playbill and saw an advertisement of an upcoming presentation of "Les Miserables."  My decision was made.  I was already mentally making plans for my girlfriend and I to attend.

Within a couple months of  "Les Miserables" opening in Anchorage, I and the previously mentioned girlfriend were no more (which shouldn't be too surprising - I was only in high school).  At this point, I had two tickets, but only one to attend.  If I had to go by myself, I would have.  I mentioned to a  friend of mine to 'keep an eye out' for somebody that would like to see it - I didn't want to take someone just because it was a free ticket.  Not long after mentioning this, he and his wife had a visit from someone who had just moved up from the lower-48 (the 48 states below Canada to Alaskans).   While visiting, she saw an advertisement on television for "Les Miserables" and exclaimed, "Awww.  I really want to see that!"  That's all my friend had to hear.  I had the same opinion.  I didn't care about anything else except the simple fact that she really wanted to see it.  The fact that she was absolutely gorgeous was just a bonus.

There we were, about to see the musical I had so been looking forward to.   I found it necessary to purchase the souvenir program - the playbill just was not enough.  Browsing through this program, I found a mock version of Cosette holding movie tickets with the statement, "In 1992 she will be going to the cinema."  I absorbed this with great anticipation.  The rotating stage drew my mind in.  The musical began and finished leaving me completely astonished.  

My "blind" date (merely a figure of speech, as she could see very well) came and went - leaving Alaska due to her brother's upcoming involvement in "Desert Storm."  Just a bit later, I left Alaska myself, having purchased and totally memorized "Les Miserables - The Complete Symphonic Recording."  I was still awaiting the movie release which never came.  Soon I assumed it would never be released and moved on attending several more musicals including another visit to "Les Miserables."  By this time, I had seen "Cats" come to DVD (which is not a good sign for "Les Miserables" should the movie ever come to fruition.  "Cats" need remain a stage production).

Several years later, "Phantom of the Opera" showed up on film.  This was done very well, and left me with a much more positive impression should the musical of "Les Miserables" become a movie.  Around 2009/2010 I began to see and hear more rumors of  "Les Miserables" making it to the cinema.  My only thought was, "I'll believe it when I see it."  The rumors became more solid when my research on revealed a presumed cast. When I saw this list, my only concern was the actors being 'too recognizable.'  I was pleasantly surprised to find that, although very recognizable, Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway and Russell Crowe among others performed so well as to soon forget their other manifestations.  The introduction of Isabelle Allen as the young Cosette was a treat.  Considering my physical problems due to MS, I very rarely go out, but on December 25, 2012, I made it to the movie theater for "Les Miserables'" very first showing.  I was not disappointed.  The movie version of this musical was every bit a work of art.  I 'rolled' out of the theater with the feeling, "This masterpiece is my 'castle on a cloud'."

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