Sunday, January 6, 2013

Les Miz

Okay, for those who know me,  I am a huge lover of Les Miserables.  Not only did I love the show, hook, line, and sinker, it has a significant place in my heart for all the incredible people I was honored to meet.  My memories as an audience member are vivid.  I saw the show 17 times.  Grant you, I didn't pay all those times and I was seeing clients go on in different roles, but I love the show.  Cried like a baby every single time. 

When the Broadway revival happened a few years ago, I was so excited to take my kids.  It was sorely disappointing.  The woman playing the role of Fantine couldn't sing.  That was a huge gaping hole.  So, you can only imagine my joy when one of my favorite actors was announced to play Jean Valjean in the movie version.  I couldn't think of anyone better in today's market than Hugh Jackman to helm such an epic musical.  When they announced Russell Crowe as Javert, it did give me pause, but still excited.  When Anne Hathaway was cast as Fantine, felt like things were going in the right direction. The movie studio announced that Les Miserables would be released Christmas Day.  I couldn't imagine a better Christmas present to me. Thought I'd be the first one on my block to see it, but as time got closer, more and more people saw screenings and gave their opinions everywhere.  I saw one person on Facebook who vehemently hated it and he wasn't even a friend of mine, but his opinions popped up on my newsfeed.  I started to lose my bearings. I felt wobbly.  

I started reading in the newspapers about the "changes."  I hate change.  I was feeling a bit more shaken and uncertain that this dream of this grand theatrical experience could be realized on the silver screen. I began to feel uncertain of the joys of going with my family or anyone else for that matter.  This show, so dear to my heart....I just wasn't sure anymore what was the best way to see it.  Christmas came and went.  I didn't go.  New Year's 2013 rang in and still hadn't made it to the theatre.  Finally, today, I woke up and walked to the last movie house in Manhattan, The Ziegfeld.  The Ziegfeld Theatre was a great movie theatre, struggling to survive in these days of multiplexes.  To see a movie on a huge screen is a great reminder of what movies are supposed to be like.  Anyway, I digress.

I sat down in a perfect seat in the balcony with no head or body blocking my vision.  I was thrilled to be there after so many years ( I think the last time was opening of the movie Chicago). Eighteen minutes of previews later, I heard the downbeat that I recognize so well.  I was fascinated by the choices of the director, Tom Hooper.  I couldn't even tell you if the prison scenes were accurate because on the stage it was just grueling work.  It never occurred to me what the work actually was. Hundreds of men and then the camera lands on Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean.  The camera pans to Russell Crowe as Javert.  If I am to be fair about the movie, the scenes that killed me on stage every time, destroyed me still.  Sobbed in parts. But, I didn't like the new songs.  I had flashes of Funny Girl devotees going to see the movie for the first time.  Don't mess with it.  The new songs didn't add and felt like cinematic manipulations that were unnecessary. I noted a few cuts.  One that really annoyed me.  It would only bother someone who really knows the show, but they cut "LeMarque is dead." Tom Hooper thankfully cut much of the wedding scene and song.  Never one of my favorites.  I did think that Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter (must have three names to play these parts, I guess) as Monsieur and Madame Thenadier were very enjoyable.  Anne Hathaway soared as Fantine. Russell Crowe was okay.  I think it may have been better to hire an unknown actor to play opposite Hugh Jackman.  Someone who vocally can hold their own. Russell couldn't. I love Hugh Jackman, so though I may not think it rose to the perfection of Colm Wilkinson's performance on Broadway, he was great.  How fitting that they gave Colm Wilkinson the role of "God."  

I could go on and on, really, but don't want to spoil it for anyone that still hasn't taken the time to see it.  Even with it's imperfections, I think it is well worth seeing.  

Sidebars:  Can I complain about Sunday nights again?  Why, oh why, do the programmers put all good things on the same night?  Tonight, the long awaited season 3 of Downton Abbey begins.  Also, there are new episodes of The Good Wife and The Mentalist after weeks of reruns tonight.  And The Biggest Loser with Jillian Michaels return also starts tonight.  I'm sure there are football games, too.  There's no doubt that Downton Abbey will get my initial attention and everything else will have to wait.  To all you fellow D.A. people, enjoy tonight's first episode!  Can't wait!  

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