Les Miserables (2012)

When people ask me if Les Miserables is a musical, I tell them no. Instead, I call it an experience. It’s an experience to be loved, to be lived, and to be sung. And sing I did, as I walked out of the theaters after watching the new movie by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech).

Top-notch ensemble cast, legendary producer, innovative director, unparalleled music. What more could you ask for? It was every bit worth the wait and more. The favorite tunes were all there, and they even added some new bits and pieces here and there. Including, if I might spoil it, a brand new piece written just for the movie (Suddenly).

I’m no film critic, so I won’t do such a thing as to give a score or a rating. But the movie truly moved me. Although there were moments that I wish the singing was done better or differently, those moments paled in comparison to the grandeur of the experience as a whole.

Please, go see it this holiday season. Do yourself this favor: you won’t regret it.

Les Miserables

Or, if you prefer,

Personally I’m more drawn to the 25th anniversary, mostly because I am more familiar with the cast: Lea Salonga, Ramin Karimloo, etc. But whatever your preference is, if you’re a Les Mis fan (who isn’t?), you’re probably just as excited as I am for the new ensemble cast movie that’s coming out Christmas day. As if Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman weren’t exciting enough, the movie’s directed by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) and produced by Cameron Mackintosh (Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera). And little known to many, Colm Wilkinson, the original Jean Valjean, makes an appearance in the movie as the priest.

Needless to say, I am super psyched for the movie.

Oh, and a great side effect of preparing for the release of the Les Mis movie during this time of year: instead of christmas carols, Les Mis music is stuck in my head 24/7. So much better.

Oklahoma!

I trudged in through my front door and dragged my tired limbs to my room. I propped open my laptop for a routine check of my email as I do after every game. Expecting nothing but the usual wash of unimportant emails, I was all but ready to jump into the shower. But one email had been prioritized by my inbox as important and came from a name I was not familiar with. Hm.
To my delight, this email was an invitation to play with the pit orchestra of the local theater company called Running to Places. They needed a bassoonist for their production of Oklahoma! Needless to say, I was stoked. Anything to keep me playing rigorously through the summer.

This was last Friday, and today is Monday. From Sunday to Sunday there were five rehearsals and three shows (the first rehearsal was eight hours long!). The week was a lot of fun; I got to play with some old friends and makes some new ones. The conductor/pianist was absolutely delightful and it was nothing but fantastic to work with him. Although by the last performance I had started getting bored of watching the same show over and over again, the music was challenging enough to keep me occupied. For a week’s worth of rehearsals, I’d have to say the performances went quite well.

Props to all the cast and crew that were involved in the production, and hats off to the members of the pit orchestra, who never get enough attention for what they do in theater. 

The Phantom of the Opera

The longest running show on Broadway to date. Second-longest on West End. It is the highest grossing musical theater production of all time. I speak of none other than… Yes, I realize there’s no point being dramatic when the title already says it all, but come on! It’s the Phantom of the Opera! This is the masterful creation of Andrew Lloyd Webber that has grasped the hearts of millions of people worldwide. Its haunting yet beautiful music connects with your heart no matter who you are.

Personally, I fell in love with the story after watching the film version for the first time. Since then I have seen the movie countless times and have seen the production in Broadway. If you have not, go see it on Broadway. It is definitely one experience you will never regret.

The music itself is so well crafted that it pulls at my emotions no matter how many times I listen to the songs. Perhaps it is because I have a personal story entwined with each and every one of them, or perhaps it is because the story of the Phantom is simply so memorable. Whatever the reason, I know I will never get tired of listening to these songs.

And for the fellow Phans out there who don’t know about it yet, there is a sequel by Andrew Lloyd Webber currently on West End called Love Never Dies. The soundtrack is just as haunting, but I have heard the plot has received bad reviews. Perhaps the composer’s major revisions that took place not too long ago changed the opinions, but nonetheless I plan to go see it on Broadway.