I blub. I cry, sob, weep, I snivel and leak. At Tiffany adverts, You Tube marriage proposals, black and white films where they hug each other cheek to cheek, soldiers surprising their family at baseball games, the odd Disney film (!) and Les Misérables. It can be embarassing.
Let’s focus on yesterday’s musical tears. For everything else there is therapy.
Regardless of the having seen it 20 years ago and coming out of the film wearing sunglasses to hide the evidence of very puffy eyes, I still could not help but succumb to the emotional overload yet again. I mean, I know the story and the score. People die. OK, a lot of people die. Children get shot. Injustice and heartache vied for the attention of my tearducts. We root for love and the common man and want the baddies to jump off bridges (oops, sorry – spoiler alert). So what is it about this experience that still gets to me?
It is beautiful. Visually beautiful. The lighting was extraordinary and very imaginative. When Valjean carries Marius through the sewers, a single changing spotlight illuminates him as he struggles along, combined with the revolving stage, it very cleverly transports us into the dark sewers with only the occasional light source from the grates above.
The use of the colour red, perfectly placed in composition with other subdued colours, then the big red flag and the occasional flash of red on a frock coat. Reminded me of the film The Sixth Sense. The layers created on stage with smoke, lighting, screens and colour, made me smile (and yes, cry) because it was a visual feast.
And the music? It is not a typical ‘musical’ score. I cannot abide the songs in Wicked, for example. I suppose this is much more grown up. It has a definite operatic feel to it, with some of the songs, especially Javert’s part, requiring an impressive vocal range and power. And lungs. Again the use of layering, canon singing, and weaving different songs together gave this so much more depth and substance than so many other productions I have had to sit through for the benefit of relatives and children. No tears of joy were shed there. This is genius.
It was slammed by most of the critics when it first opened in 1985, but the public voted with their feet and it went on to break all the records and I like that too. Fits in very nicely with the content. And it got another standing ovation. Apparently this happens at nearly every performance. I love a good standing ovation. Makes me cry.
This thing has soul. Go and see it.