Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Record a Week: Les Miserables


















SIDE 1.
AT THE END OF THE DAY
I DREAMED A DREAM
LOVELY LADIES
WHO AM I?
COME TO ME (FANTINE'S DEATH)
CONFRONTATION

SIDE 2.
CASTLE ON A CLOUD
MASTER OF THE HOUSE
THE TH√ČNARDIER WALTZ OF TREACHERY
LOOK DOWN
STARS
RED AND BLACK
DO YOU HEAR THE PEOPLE SING?

SIDE 3.
IN MY LIFE
A HEART FULL OF LOVE
PLUMET ATTACK
ONE DAY MORE
ON MY OWN
JAVERT AT THE BARRACADE/LITTLE PEOPLE
THE FIRST ATTACK
A LITTLE FALL OF RAIN

SIDE 4.
DRINK WITH ME
BRING HIM HOME
DOG EATS DOG
JAVERT'S SUICIDE
TURNING
EMPTY CHAIRS AT EMPTY TABLES
WEDDING CHORALE/BEGGARS AT THE FEAST
FINALE

I've been waiting for this record to come up, the soundtrack to my favourite musical. Ever since I was a little kid, when my mother listened to the soundtrack all the time, I was roped in by the powerful songs and performances. That was followed up by seeing it 3rd row orchestra centre while Michael Burgess was performing in it. I know, I know, Colm Wilkinson is the one to be seen, but he was doing it before I was born, so I have to settle for seeing him in anniversary performances online. Also, he was the Phantom the time I saw Phantom of the Opera.

But I digress. This album, as does any musical, contains a number of misses. When you have to tell a story through song, the boring parts of the story can show through in the musical retelling. However, the power in the songs Look Down, At The End of the Day and One Day More as well as the emotion in I Dreamed a Dream, On My Own and Bring Him Home paint a beautiful story of redemption and love in the time of the French Revolution. Those songs are broken up by the playful Lovely Ladies and Master of the House. Each song is important to the telling of the story in a musical and this one does an excellent job.

When the movie came out last year, there was so much public hype behind it, in addition to my own longstanding love of it, that there was almost no chance of it working out for me. Despite my hatred for Anne Hathaway, I actually thought she did a good job in the movie. However, her character dies SO EARLY in the movie, I can't see how it is Oscar-worthy. It is all for one song, a song that had way more sadness and less anger than any version I had heard before it. Alright, I get that things change and it's nice to get a fresh perspective on things, but this character was so entrenched in my (and many others, I'd imagine) memory a certain way that it just bothers me. The live singing thing just didn't work out for many of the characters and poor Russel Crowe just came out flat. The movie itself has enough character to not need big names to make it a must-see.

Anyhow, in my opinion, the play IS a must-see. See it on Broadway, see it off Broadway, see it in a good theatre town or your local high school. It's just a moving piece of theatre and it gets two thumbs up from this guy.

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