Obvious Authoress Note: This post has nothing to do with dance whatsoever 🙂 I looked on IMBD on some specific names, but the musical history itself is mostly out of my head. It is my favorite musical after all.
If you’ve seen my newest page, you know I’m not the biggest fan of movie theaters. There are sticky floors, potentially rowdy kids (or as lovingly call them “liabilities on legs”), bad movie quality, etc. (For the record, I don’t hate kids. I was a kid once, a huge liability at that, with all my mischief. I’m just incredibly conditional in my love for them. *sweet smile*). Once, a movie even stopped about three-quarters of the way through. They couldn’t get it to play again, so everyone had to leave. That was when I saw Toy Story 2, by the way.
This particular subject of movie adaptations has been nagging at me of late, so I find the compulsion to write about it very strong. This is a dancing blog. If you want to read about dancing I suggest you skip this post, and read some of my older posts because there is that overwhelming need to write about something completely different that occasionally pops up. Rest assured, it doesn’t happen often, but I don’t stifle it when it does.
Ahem, to the real subject, it has come to my attention that my favorite musical (and one of my favorite books), Les Misérables, will be in theaters as an adaptation December 14, 2012. The cast stars Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, and Anne Hathaway. Though I could give you my thoughts on this casting, I won’t. It’s already been decided, and complaining won’t change a thing. My reaction to this news when I found out a couple months ago was as follows…
Some history, both musical and personal, is in order. Les Misérables is a musical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s novel of the same name. It was directed by Cameron Mackintosh. The two composers were Claude-Michel Shönberg and Alan Boubil. In production, they collaborated with the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company). The musical was panned by the critics who called it a “commercial play” for the RSC. (Really?) They also criticized it for being depressing, as the novel is tragic. Musicals should be happy productions where people leave the theater humming the tunes. But, the next morning after receiving such scathing reviews from the critics, the rightfully nervous producers left their lodgings to see a huge line of people wrapping around the corner waiting to see the production. Take that, critics! Les Misérables is now one of the most, if not the most, widely played musicals in the world.
Personally, I discovered this musical in 10th grade at the hearty recommendation of fellow theater nerds. I listened to it, and fell madly in love with it (still am in love with it, but it’s more latent). I saw the musical on stage first on the West End during a school trip to London and again about a year later at a local production. As to why I like it, I’ll make it short. The musical bespeaks of the universal human journey, which we all must take. Specifically, it deals with conversion and the road to redemption. The music is profound in its lyrics as well. I listened to the original London cast recording for a while, but then I found another recording done by a cast of characters on the musical’s 10th Anniversary. This is the only time you’ll see me recommend another cast over the original. If you want to see the 10th anniversary concert, click here. The album is available on iTunes. I read the complete, unabridged version of the novel a couple of months later. I loved it with notable exception of when Mr. Hugo seems to take up mountains of pages on one topic. (Over seventy pages on the sewers of Paris?! Really?!) If you want to read it, I’d recommend the abridged version. If you’re brave enough to read the complete version, be prepared to skim.
So, what do I think about this new adaptation? I am slightly fearful. It’s an adaptation, not a musical. Therefore, I shouldn’t set my expectations too high. There is actually an earlier adaptation, though the date and cast allude me. I actually saw that before the musical, and thinking back, it’s decent enough. Will I see it in theaters? My intention is to see it in theaters. There is no way I’m going to see it during opening week. I’m going to wait for the crowds to thin down, then go. Of course, if someone spoils it for me, like a meathead in my Bio lecture class did for the last movie in the Batman trilogy, it’s DVD for me.