Daily Archives: March 6, 2011

Les Mis

When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!

~Herbert Kretzmer in Les Miserables

I watched this evening the 25th anniversary production of Les Mis.

And I was once again moved and awed by this extraordinary musical.

Let the detractors detract.  The show has been dissected and parsed and flogged.  Yes, it’s repetitive.  Of course it’s man v. machinery on stage.

But this show has power, grandeur, pathos, greatness, and an emotional core that continues to move me every time I see it, either on the screen or on stage.

I saw Les Mis in Kansas City on its first national tour.  I had listened over and over to the LP recording I owned.  But I didn’t know the story, and I had no reference point for the visual. My seat in the 4th row at the Midland was close enough to see the sweat.  And to see the belief on the faces of those actors.  When that red flag came out at the end of Act One, I was a goner.  I sat and cried through intermission.  I sniffled all the through Act Two, every death seeming to affect me even more deeply.  Eponine, Gavroche, Enjolras, Javert – I became weepier and weepier.  And then came “Empty Chairs,” the brief respite of the wedding scene, and that stunning final scene with white light carrying Valjean off to heaven, followed by “Do You Hear the People Sing.”

I sobbed for an hour.  Literally.  I couldn’t speak in the car on the way home.

Much of this emotion came back tonight, in spite of the stunt casting of Nick Jonas, who was totally overwhelmed by the pros with more vocal range, power, and breath.  He’s pretty to look at, but the kid can’t act, and the singing was limited and to my ears and eyes ineffective.  He was the only weak link tonight.

And those extras at the end of the show?  Colm Wilkinson, Michael Ball, the original Thernardiers, Cameron Mackintosh….  Mon Dieu!

I’ve seen this show in KC, in NYC, in Chicago, and in London.  I’ll go see it again now, if I have the chance.

And don’t even get me started about Miss Saigon, a show for which I feel even deeper affection.

Random musings

No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.


Ray Martin popped back into my life on Friday.  Out of the blue, this kid (who is now 33) phoned me to catch up.  Ray was in my choirs at KU.  KU Men’s Glee premiered one of his choral compositions in 1999 on my final concert at Kansas.  Ray roomed with me for a summer as he was in transition as an undergrad.  He married shortly after graduating college, and with his wife has several children.  Now divorced, he decided it was time for a catch-up.  I’m immensely grateful he did.

“God’s plan is better than my plan.  But the problem is that God doesn’t always reveal his cards at the time I’d like.”  That was Ray’s most profound statement this week.

Also this week: Hannah.  Our visit Friday was another moment of grace last week.

And then Dom, with whom I shared a salvation story this week.   More grace, and more blessing beyond measure – this is what I gain by living in the moment and spending time with my students, present and former.

I spent time on Friday evening with some GMC guys at a fund-raiser for our new CD project, and then at dinner at Chava’s in Soulard.  The views of tugboats working the Mississippi after dark were wonderful and incredibly atmospheric.

My trip to the Bug Store today landed me several objets d’art for the back yard, including a little bird bath, a glass butterfly, and several other decorables.    Green things are popping up out back.  Daffodils are sending up their leaves, as are the irises in the front yard.  Spring is not far away.  I am ready for the new season.

Gateway Men’s Chorus commences our Lighten Your Loafers weight-loss challenge in six day’s time.  I have decided to pack on the food this week, so that I can lead my team to victory by losing all of it and then some.  By my 50th birthday in four month’s time, I’ll be at fighting weight.  Just wait and see.

I’m lunching a while with D, and then attending later today a concert at Christ Church Cathedral.

Spring Break is here, but I’m working every day of it, alas, save for next Sunday.

Samson has been incredibly loving recently.  Here’s a shot of him on Thursday night, sleeping under the throw I had on my legs as I lounged on the sofa:

Samson sleeps.